One of the big ticket news items on Monday was the release of the 2011 BC football schedule. The schedule features just six home games, including a Thursday night contest between the Eagles and Seminoles, and six road trips -- Orlando, Clemson, Blacksburg, College Park, South Bend and Miami Gardens. Let's analyze next year's schedule with a game of Over / Under.
Over / Under - 3.5 wins in the month of September
Jeff: I have to go over here. Northwestern is a good team but the game is in Chestnut Hill so that gives the Eagles the edge. After that, anything less than 3-0 in the next three would be a disaster. UCF is literally maybe half the team they were last year and have no business beating a decent ACC in 2011 regardless of where the game is played. Then we get Duke at home and a I-AA school. Need I say more?
Brian: I am going to go under here. I think it's 3-1 to start the season, with the most likely culprit being an opening game loss to Northwestern. And no, I'm not saying this because I want my other alma mater to beat BC. I think that Northwestern is a program headed in the right direction under Pat Fitzgerald, and with QB Dan Persa back, I think the 'Cats have a pretty good chance of knocking off a BC squad that will be proving out a new offensive system and rebuilding the offensive line.
The other factor that I think could lead to an opening season loss is the fact that classes won't have started for BC's first game. A lot of students and families will likely use the weekend to help students move in, and my guess is this game won't be heavily attended by Superfans. That's not to say the game won't be well attended by alumni and other fans, but I think this will detract from any sort of home-field advantage that BC will have in this one. I could be wrong about the attendance, and could be wrong about losing to Northwestern, but I still think 3-1 is a safe bet. Under.
Over / Under - 1.5 wins in the month of October
Brian: I will go slightly over here and say the Eagles go 2-2 in the month of October. Wake Forest will be better next year, but the Deacons have to travel to Chestnut Hill and that game is about as sure of a win as the Eagles have on the 2011 schedule. After the Wake game, the schedule takes a pretty turn for the worse. Three straight road games -- Clemson, an open date, Virginia Tech and then Maryland. I can't remember another time where the Eagles have had three straight road ACC games on the schedule, and winning on the road in conference is no easy task.
Like last year, the Eagles benefit from having the week off before preparing to play the Hokies. Hopefully they use the week to improve and, you know, score some points against Virginia Tech. BC could easily go 0-3 in these three road games, but I think they will get a win in at least one of these games. BC beat Clemson this year and played Maryland close. The Terps have a lot of talent, but will likely be going through some growing pains under first year coach Randy Edsall. The Hokies will look very different in 2011, too, but I'm not ready to predict that BC can somehow knock off Virginia Tech. Especially not with the way the programs has struggled against Tech the last two years. So let's say 2-2, with wins over Wake Forest and Maryland.
Jeff: Absolutely over here. 2-2 in the month of October wouldn't really be an accomplishment either. Beating Wake Forest at home is as close to a lock as we have on our ACC schedule, then we only need to get one win out of three away games. We went 1-2 against Clemson, VT and Maryland last year but it is entirely possible that all three teams are worse next year than they were this year while the Eagles should be as good or hopefully improve.
Over / Under - 1.5 wins in the month of November
Jeff: Fortunately, I predict us to be bowl eligible going into November with a 6-2 record. Depending on who the losses come against and if we can we some games in dominating fashion maybe even ranked? November has the potential to be bad. N.C. State is a big question mark in my mind but all those questions will be answered by the time we play them. N.C. State is really the only team we have a chance of being favored against in November. We've been ranked higher than Florida State before and been underdogs at home so I would imagine we will be underdogs in 2011 and then we will certainly be underdogs in our road games. However, with all that said, I am going over. My early early prediction for 2011 is 8-4 in the regular season and since I have us 6-2 going into November, I'm going over.
Brian: I'll also go over here. Between the Florida State and N.C. State games, I think there is a win in one of those two games. As you said, N.C. State is a big question mark next season, but Spaz gets up for that game like no other. BC also always plays Florida State close at home. I also think that Miami will struggle more than people think in Al Golden's first season. The 'Canes have a ton of talent, but next season is as good a chance as any for the Eagles to win their first game at Miami since Flutie-to-Phelan. I don't think 2-2 is an unreasonable expectation, though I wouldn't be surprised if we go just 1-3. For now, though, I'll go over.
Over / Under - A third place finish in the ACC Atlantic Division
Brian: BC will finish higher than Wake Forest, but I'm struggling to come up with other teams that the Eagles will surpass in the standings. Florida State has to be considered the favorite to repeat in the Division, especially with the same favorable Coastal Division matchup that Maryland got this past year -- Duke, Virginia and Miami. The 'Noles benefit from not facing the defending ACC champs, Paul Johnson's triple option offense or Butch Davis and the Tar Heels. Clemson has a much tougher road, avoiding the same Coastal teams that FSU plays and road trips at Virginia Tech, Maryland, Georgia Tech and N.C. State. Like this year, the Tigers could once again finish middle-of-the-pack in the Division this season. Maryland won't have as easy a time navigating next year's schedule, finishing on the road for its final three games. Still, the sched isn't all that difficult, and if the Terps get past Miami in the Thursday night opener, they could start the season 3-0 in conference before road trippin' to Tallahassee and hosting the Eagles. N.C. State is the real wild card in the Division, and the program with the most favorable schedule of the six. The Pack miss both Miami and Virginia Tech, and could easily start the season 7-0 before playing at Florida State.
Overall, third place sounds about right to me. But because pushing isn't manly, I'm going to go under here. Way too early 2011 ACC Atlantic Division standings: 1) Florida State, 2) N.C. State, 3) Maryland, 4) Boston College, 5) Clemson, 6) Wake Forest.
Jeff: I too have us finishing ahead of Clemson and Wake. I also have us finishing ahead of Maryland though. I am simply not going to predict BC finishes behind Maryland until Maryland shows some serious improvement. BC had Maryland beat last year despite only showing up for half the game. If our players believed in themselves a little more and had experienced an ACC win prior to that game, BC would have beaten the Terps for sure. So I guess I'm pushing.
Last one, Over / Under - 2.5 wins on the road
Jeff: UCF, Clemson, Maryland. That's three. OVER!!!!! You can't rule out the possibility of winning at Notre Dame or at Miami. Actually, you can't even rule out winning at Virginia Tech. No ACC road games are locks but with six road games this season, I certainly see getting three wins.
Brian: Agreed, over. Only slightly. BC will be fortunate to win three of six on the road next season. BC gets the bye week before the game against Virginia Tech, which will help. I would have liked to have seen the Hurricanes on the schedule earlier in the year, but I think the Miami road game is also winnable. In terms of difficulty, I'd say, from easiest to hardest, 1) Central Florida 2) Maryland 3) Clemson 4) Miami 5) Virginia Tech 6) Notre Dame.