The Comeback Kids
This post is sponsored by EA Sports NCAA Football 2011.
Well, it looks like I jumped the gun a little bit. I've already waxed poetic about how Matt Ryan and the 2007 Boston College Eagles football team converted just another Superfan into a lifer/blogger. Clearly the 2007 team that won 11 games for the first time since 1940 is my favorite Eagles' team. But because that season was nearly complete by the time we started BC Interruption, let's recap the high points of the season and reasons why that year was the best of my short time as a Superfan.
If 2007 was going to be a special year, you wouldn't have guessed it less than 7 minutes into the season opener against Wake Forest. Matt Ryan was intercepted by Alphonso Smith who returned the ball 21 yards for a touchdown on the very first play from scrimmage. On Wake's next drive, Riley Skinner hooked up with Kenneth Moore to put the Deacs up 14-0. Matt Ryan would battle back and drive the Eagles down the field for a pair of touchdowns that knotted the game at 14. A pair of third quarter touchdown passes put the Eagles up for good, with BC holding on for a 38-28 victory. After his initial mistake, Matt Ryan had a career day in what would be the start of a Heisman-calibre season. His final stat line read 32-of-52, 408 yards, 5 TD, 2 INT.
The second win of the season was especially gratifying given that it was the Eagles first win over their former head coach. BC capitalized on seven Wolfpack turnovers, including 5 interceptions from quarterback Harrison Beck. BC actually trailed after the first quarter 10-7, but scored 10 unanswered points in the second quarter and never looked back. Two games and two wins against Atlantic Division competition and the Eagles started off the 2007 season on a high note.
The Eagles kept rolling, knocking off Georgia Tech on a Saturday night to move to 3-0, and sweeping their non-conference schedule of Army, UMass, Bowling Green and Notre Dame to move to 7-0. The following Monday, entering a bye week before they would travel to Blacksburg on the following Thursday, BC was ranked #3 in the AP poll and #2 in the Coaches' Poll. A 30-27 loss by USF to Rutgers (of all teams) bumped the Eagles a spot up to hold the #2 spot in both major polls.
Just yesterday I discussed the sheer awesomeness of BC's 14-10 comeback win over the #8 ranked Hokies, so I'll save some words here. Put simply, this game was the greatest college football game I've ever attended and the one that most stands out to me from the 2007 season. What seems almost appropriate is that back in Boston, this victory was overshadowed by Game 2 of the 2007 World Series between the Red Sox and Rockies. Here are my pictures from the trip, and here is the last drive in all its glory.
Then the bottom fell out, in the form of two heart-wrenching losses to Florida State (27-17) and Maryland in College Park (42-35), both of which I attended. After falling to 8-2 and from #2 to #17/#18 in the two polls, BC traveled to Death Valley with a chance to win their first outright ACC Atlantic Division title and a spot in the 2007 ACC Championship Game. Trailing 10-3 heading into the fourth quarter, the Eagles' first Atlantic Division title seemed to be out of reach. That is, until a third and seven from the Clemson 43, when Matt Ryan connected with a wide open Rich Gunnell with 1:46 to play to put BC up 20-17.
For one of the few times all season, it was the defense, not Matt Ryan and the offense, that preserved the victory for the Eagles. Clemson QB Cullen Harper drove the Tigers from their own 28 yard line to the BC 30 in just under 90 seconds. The Eagles dodged a major bullet when earlier in that drive, Aaron Kelly dropped what would have surely been a game-winning TD pass on the 2 yard line. With just six seconds to play, BC sacked Harper for a loss of 7 yards, pushing the Tigers offense back to the BC 37. Mark Buchholtz's 54 yard, game-tying field goal attempt was well short, and BC escaped Death Valley with a 20-17 victory and our first ACC Atlantic Division title.
The 2007 team reset the bar of success for the Boston College program. It was a team that broke the mold of success established by Tom O'Brien's 8-9 win teams of the past decade. The combination of a stifling, run-stuffing defense and the high-powered theatrics of Matt Ryan and the BC offense make this easily my favorite Eagles' team. Well, that and thrilling come-from-behind victories against Virginia Tech and Clemson, a win over a Miami team that BC hadn't beaten since Flutie's Hail Mary, and ending the season on a winning note against Michigan State in the Champs Sports Bowl.
What's your favorite BC team of all time? Like me, is it the 2007 team? The 1984 team and its Heisman Trophy quarterback? Or maybe a team from the past that younger fans like me don't know much about?