Brian: Last week's quality discussion on the ideal 2011 Boston College football schedule is proof positive that it's never too early to start thinking about the 2011 BC football season. Along with that, it's also never too early to discuss the best road trip of the 2011 season.
Looking at next year's schedule, it's clear that not all BC road trips are created equal. In conference play, the Eagles have road trips to Miami Gardens, Blacksburg, Clemson and College Park, while in non-conference play, BC has trips to Orlando and South Bend. There isn't really a bad trip among BC's six road games. If pressed to break down the road trips in terms of overal quality, I would probably say:
Must-gos: Virginia Tech, Notre Dame, Clemson
So-sos: Orlando, Miami
In terms of quality opponent, Virginia Tech and Notre Dame seem to rise above the others. Miami will be in a transition year under first year coach Al Golden, while Clemson is likely to be just as good if not a little worse than last year.
Under the category of best in-stadium experience, I'd lean Virginia Tech and Clemson, with an honorable mention to Notre Dame. UCF's new Bright House Networks Stadium also looks like a great facility. It's a pretty big upgrade from the Citrus Bowl, anyhow.
In terms of BC victory, Maryland, UCF and Clemson seem to be more winnable games than Virginia Tech and Notre Dame, considering Spaz is 0-2 against both those programs. Miami? Who knows? The game against the Hurricanes probably falls somewhere in between.
Finally, in terms of vacation-ability, Miami and Orlando seem to top the list here. I can think of worse places to spend a fall weekend than South Beach or the Magic Kingdom.
So which upcoming road game do you think is the choicest destination in 2011? Your thoughts?
Jeff: You are right in that there really isn't a terrible road game this season. Maryland is by far the worst destination but that will be the shortest drive for most of the BC fan base and might get a good number of New York area people to make the trip if Maryland continues to play a little better as they did last season. If I could go to any one, and only one game I'd look at Notre Dame, Miami and UCF as possibilities. UCF gets consideration because it will be your only opportunity to go to Orlando and watch BC play outside of a Champs Sports Bowl bid which might not come again for a while. And if you have kids, taking them out of school for a long weekend might not be the worst time to go to the Magic Kingdom considering it's much busier there in the summer and swamped around Christmas which is when the bowl game would be. Also, UCF provides one of our best opportunities to see a W. They finished last season in the top 25 but lost some players and coaches.
Then, I'd look at Miami since we now play at Miami only once every five seasons. For me, I have not yet traveled to Miami while I have been to Virginia Tech, Clemson and Notre Dame so this is an attractive possibility but it would really depend on when the game falls as to whether heading south for warmer whether will be worth it or not. We know Miami plays in an NFL stadium so it won't provide a lot of the fun that's involved with going to say Clemson where its a small college town and they have passionate fans and tailgaters.
But where most fans will end up is Notre Dame. Notre Dame had a better season last year and will probably be the attention of lots of national media and it is the only destination where BC will fill all of its allotted seats and then some. It will be a cold game for sure with it falling so late in the season and there's a good chance our ACC Championship Game fate will have been sealed by then, leaving it as the latest game in the season that we know everyone will really care about. Of the three games I'm considering, Notre Dame will be the largest favorites over BC.
All things considered, with the Clemson game being very unlikely to decide who goes to the ACC Championship Game like 2007, I think I'd be heading to Miami. It provides a decent chance to see a very rare BC victory there and since BC and Miami play in different divisions, this game will have just as much meaning this year as other years aside from if Miami gets back to being a national title contender. I'll save a trip to Notre Dame for a future season when Notre Dame is almost guaranteed to be ranked and has a chance of being a top ten team.