November 25, 2007

10 win season

You learn a lot when you sit in a hotel room and watch a day of college football.

For one thing, did you know BC hadn't beaten Miami since 1984? And that it was a miracle Doug Flutie pass that beat the Hurricanes in the Orange Bowl? And that Miami had won the 15 games between the two schools since?

All three points were hammered home, again and again during the game, which turned out to be a special one for BC. In case you didn't know, it was the first win for the Eagles since Flutie threw that pass at the Orange Bowl in 1984 - and it ended a 15-game losing streak for BC against Miami.

But this was so much more than that. Yeah, it was nice that the win was against Miami, and the streak talk can now finally stop, but it was the victory itself that mattered most -- what it meant to this season, a special one at The Heights.

Forget the two losses that followed the eight straight wins, two losses followed by two more wins. The bottom line is this: if someone would have asked you folks, going into the season, if you would have played the entire year without Brian Toal and B.J. Raji and with all kinds of other injuries on defense and you'd go 10-2 and head to the ACC title game, the guess here is you would have signed up for that.

A 10-win regular season? Matt Ryan breaking Flutie's season TD pass record (Flutie, by the way, threw the pass that beat Miami in 1984)? A Boston College team winning with a passing attack instead of via the run?

And PLEASE don't forget - it's a 10-2 with a new coach.

The old coach said the best you could hope for at BC was nine or 10 (that the "sky's the limit" in Raleigh); but this team has a chance for 12. There was no stumble in the transition, no getting used to the new coach. Tom O'Brien left behind a veteran group and said this team would have been his best at BC. He was right; but it was still Jeff Jagodzinski who made sure it happened, who went 10-2 in his first regular season as a head coach.

Hey, check my math - isn't this the first time BC ever won six conference games in a season? Another first.

It's all pretty neat - and I think it would have somehow been even neater had it not been for all the stuff you rail at me about. In other words, had the wins kept piling up and BC wound up 7, 8 or 9 in the country after being 8-0, the expectations wouldn't have become unrealistic. I don't know where the Eagles will be when the new polls come out, but it's a realistic neighborhood - and a pretty darn good one. That was my point all along. This is a very good football team that has won 10 games (so far) in the craziest season of all time.

After winning Saturday, Jags said, "What Doug did … and all that, that was great. Now they're going to talk about what Ryan did and what Silva did and what Nick Larkin did. We've got something special up to this point and it's a good thing to keep building on the tradition."

He's right. These seniors you saw play their final home game Saturday happen to be 38-11 over the last four years, with a shot at 40-11. They went out in style, probably keeping things closer than their coach would have liked (he said at halftime the Eagles could have already had the 28 points they wound up with), but making the plays when they had to make them - even as guys kept limping off the field.

Talk of the final game would NOT be complete without a salute to Andre Callender - the true unsung hero of this football team.

Senior Day meant another 147 yards of total offense for him and he has been a rock from the start. He has 885 yards rushing and 613 receiving this season - and the year will somehow be more special if he gets 115 yards on the ground the next two games to reach 1,000. Jagodzinski said before the season he couldn't recall not having a thousand-yard rusher but for Callender to reach that plateau in this year of the pass, that just might be the greatest stat recorded by this team this year.

Ryan had a great point after the game, re:BC wanting to win this game, he said, "We knew the other team (next week) was going to come in with a win and we wanted to match their momentum."

That makes great sense. The Eagles knew they were going to have a play a team in Jacksonville that had celebrated a big win the previous week. As it turns out, that team is Virginia Tech, which you KNOW is hell bent of paying the Eagles back for what happened in Blacksburg. BC coming in off a second straight win is a big deal.

While Senior Day turned out to be special for the seniors, it also gave you a glimpse at the future without them - the big plays turned in by Mark Herzlich, Rich Gunnell, DeLeon Gause (he's fun), Ron Brace, Ryan Purvis, Brady Smith, etc., mean good things for next year - when the Eagles should also get Toal and Raji back.

Building on the tradition.

Now let's see how healthy the Eagles can get by next Saturday. They're playing a pretty good team.

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