Brian: On Saturday, you asked me if there was any chance we could watch this BC team and feel good about things going forward. After cruising to a 45-17 victory over I-AA UMass, should we feel good about things? Or should we curb any enthusiasm we might have after beating a I-AA opponent by 28 points? Your thoughts?
Jeff: If you looked at BC's performance so far this season irrationally previously, then yes, you should feel better about things after Saturday's game. The fact of the matter is though that BC did not play all that much better, if at all then they did the week before. BC scored two defensive touchdowns which generally doesn't happen against an ACC team even when BC has had it's best defenses. Also, the touchdowns to Larmond, Jr. might not have been completed passes against a bigger corner. That's suddenly four touchdowns taken away and maybe BC does still score on one of those offensive possessions but in general the team did not dominate as much as the score indicated. We should feel good that BC did what it should've done against UMass, but nothing happened to really light up my eyes and increase my expectations for the rest of the season.
Brian: The Boston College defense finally put points on the board for the first time this season, coming up with two huge plays in this game. First was Nick Clancy returning a Jonathan Hernandez fumble 18 yards for a touchdown. Not to be outdone, with the Minutemen threatening in the red zone, Kevin Pierre-Louis caught a UMass fumble caused by a Max Holloway sack and returned the ball 96 yards for a touchdown. These are the types of plays that the BC D is going to need to create if the Eagles have any hopes of turning things around and having a successful season. Do you expect to see more big plays from the Eagles D in the coming weeks? Or was the Eagles' defense simply opportunistic on the day, playing against an inferior opponent?
Jeff: I absolutely expect the D to produce some points the rest of the season. The defense is not the best it has been over the last few seasons, but it is still good enough that if our opponents don't dominate time of possession BC will make some big defensive plays that result in points in several games the rest of the season.
Brian: You can't help but feel just a little better about BC's chances the rest of the way after giving the week four box scores a once over. Tom O'Brien and N.C. State got smacked around by a middle-of-the-road Cincinnati team, while Maryland got absolutely smoked at home against Temple. Miami was upset 28-24 by Kansas State. Notre Dame hasn't looked all that impressive in either of its two victories. Two Coastal teams that are playing some of the better football across the conference -- Georgia Tech and North Carolina -- aren't on this year's Eagles schedule. With just 2/3 of the season left, what's the win ceiling for this Eagles team? Is there any chance BC can win five of eight to extend its bowl streak to a program-best 13th straight season?
Jeff: Absolutely. There are two ways we could feel good about BC's chances down the stretch after Saturday. One was for Montel Harris to play, look 100 percent and score 3+ touchdowns on 10 carries. That didn't happen.
But what did happen is the ACC looked terrible in all its non-conference games except for Duke beating Tulane (but Duke is now in our rear view mirror). Virginia Tech didn't do anything special on the road at Marshall. The big news was N.C. State and Maryland getting waxed by teams that I would still expect BC to beat tomorrow if they played in Cincinnati and Temple. Suddenly, BC will probably be favored against Wake Forest, N.C. State and Maryland if lines for all games came out tomorrow.
If BC can hold serve on those three and then win 2 of their other five games -- at Clemson, at Virginia Tech, Florida State, at Notre Dame, at Miami -- we are headed to a bowl game. If BC can get healthy, while maybe some of our opponents are a little banged up, winning six or more is not at all out of the question. I don't know where you'd set an absolute best case scenario for BC's season right now but I would argue that every game left on the schedule is winnable for the Eagles. Many would say we have no chance at Clemson in two weeks but you never know since the Tigers will be coming off playing 3 straight ranked teams.
But remember, if BC loses to Wake Forest this Saturday, all bowl talk is done for the rest of the season and it will only be October 1.