[Ed. note -- Front Page'd]
I saw that BCI will be running a contest looking at a tournament style ranking of the best BC football games since 2000. Being slightly older than that and getting ready for my 43rd season of mostly great memories, I thought it would be fun to put in an old timers edition of the same game, going back to my first year as season ticket holder with my Dad in 1970. Also I needed a break from all negativity that surrounds the program now, although Phil Steele's College Football preview issue (the best in the business for my money), picks the 2012 Eagles to qualify for a trip to the Military Bowl and a rematch against Army (get your tickets today!).
Interesting how many of the games I selected even in qualifying the top 16 were road games as opposed to home games. The home games, while offering some selection, are more the heartache loss variety. 1991 Miami, 1993 West Virginia and 2001 Miami are great examples.
I am going on the same idea as the BCI current version, but only ranking 16 games, all of which were wins except for 1 tie (guys good luck finding 32 games in the past 12 years..seeing how you have to take out the entire Spaz error..era). Consideration of games were given to not only those which were exciting, but also had meaning to the program. For instance the 2008 Notre Dame game, a 17-0 shutout of Charlie Weiss and company, while fun for all of us, didn't mean a whole lot in a historical contest. ND was unranked and BC entered the game just 5-3.
The games are ranked from 1-16 and some color was added to those I chose. Let's start though with a handful of games that didn't get into the top 16...the honorable mention picks, by date.
1970 - at BC 21 Army 13
Who ever figured a win over Army would make the list, but this one was special as it was the first BC victory in the series. The Eagles had been 0-9 to that point vs the Cadets going back to 1919. BC lead by QB Frank "Red" Harris and RB Fred Willis, two Boston area products.
1973 - BC 32 at Texas A&M 24
No these aren't the Aggies who were the kings of the Southwest Conference in the 90s or even as good as the ones now entering the SEC, but the win did mark BCs first victory against a team now in a BCS conference since 1962.
1983 - BC 20 Alabama 13 at Sullivan Stadium
A year after the Bear retires, Ray Perkins brings his team into weather conditions most Tide players had never seen, much less played in. Rain, sleet, snow causes a power outage in the 3rd quarter, leaving both the stadium and those at home watching on CBS in darkness. Five Alabama turnovers doom the Tide as Bob Biestek scores two 4th quarter touchdowns to rally BC from a 13-6 deficit.
1999 - #25 BC 31 at Notre Dame 29
BCs first game as a ranked team since 1995. Win eliminates Irish from bowl contention as Pedro Cirino interception seals the game late in 4th quarter.
Now the seeds, starting with #16, one revealed each day. Feel free to comment along.
#16 - 1982 - Boston College 38 at Texas A&M 16
No one was totally sure what to expect from Doug Flutie as he opens his sophomore season, but he doesn't disappoint as the Eagles ruin Jackie Sherrill's debut as A&M coach and rout the Aggies at Kyle Field.
Flutie throws for 356 and 3 TDs, two of them to SE Jon Schoen of 45 and 16 yards.
A&M did pull to within 24-16 on a Gary Kubiak (yup, the Houston Texans head coach) TD pass, only to have Flutie lead an 80 yard march capped by a 32 yard TD to WR Brian Brennan.
How long ago was this? The game was only available on close circuit TV inside McElroy Commons which not coincidentally is where I watched from.
#15 - 1987 - at Boston College 20 #13 Tennessee 18
Believe it or not, an SEC opponent playing inside what was then 32,000 seat Alumni Stadium. Vols lose only to BC and Alabama in '87 as Eagles ride Mike Power and Jim Bell (177 yards on 39 carries, the team rushed for 344 on 70 carries!) to what would be Jack Bicknell's last top 20 victory.
Leading 6-3 at the half, the Eagles jump out to 20-3 lead in 3rd quarter on TD runs by Tim Frager and Willie Hislop and hold off two late UT scores for the win.
I can vividly remember the entire Tennessee marching band, all 300+ showing up and the scantily clad majorettes waiting until the last second to remove their coats on a frigid Halloween afternoon.
Tennessee becomes the last SEC school to play in Chestnut Hill.
#14 - 1994 - Boston College 12 #8 Kansas State 7 (Aloha Bowl)
BC defense dominates in a game most thought the K State defense would control. Game MVP Mike Mamula contributes 4 sacks, including a 2nd quarter safety which turned out to be the game winning points. The BC defense 'allows' minus 61 yards rushing, only seven first downs and rings up eight sacks total in the upset.
The Eagles wouldn't generate a lot of offense, but were sharp on their first drive behind the running of Justice Smith and David Green (28-127). Smith would finish it off with a 2 yard TD run to put BC up 7-0.
The 1994 season would wind up being the only winning season in Dan Henning's three years as head coach.
#13 - 1993 - Boston College 33 at #13 Syracuse 29
Glenn Foley opens the 2nd quarter with a flea flicker bomb to Clarence Cannon as the Eagles capture their first ever victory in the Carrier Dome, upsetting Marvin Graves and the Orangemen.
BC rolls up 558 yards of total offense, including 423 yards and three touchdowns on 22-29 passing by Foley. Penalties are about the only thing that keeps SU in the game as the Orangemen defense is shredded, allowing BC an astonishing 27 yards of offense per minute of possession.
The win, following a 66-14 pounding of Temple, moves the Eagles to 2-2 on the year after dropping the season's first two games (home loss to #5 Miami and one point loss at Northwestern) and acts as a catalyst for the remainder of the year which culminates in the victory over #1 Notre Dame in November.
#12 - 1983 - at Boston College 31 Clemson 16
A year after tying the defending national champions in Death Valley, the Eagles go one step better, scoring 28 unanswered 2nd half points to rally from a 16-3 deficit and rout the Tigers 31-16.
BC gains 281 of their 504 yards total offense on the ground (23-179 by Troy Stradford), against a vaunted Clemson defense lead by William "The Refrigerator" Perry. Doug Flutie throws 2nd half TD passes to TE Scott Gieselman and a 40 yarder to WR Gerard Phelan while Stradford and FB Bob Biestek added touchdown runs in what was the single best half of football I have ever seen BC play.
The BC defense held the Tigers to just nine first downs allowing only 21 yards passing.
Clemson would suffer only two ties and two losses over a two year period, one of the ties and one of the losses would be to the Eagles.
One of only three times I have seen a field storming at Alumni Stadium along with Texas '76 and Notre Dame '94.
#11 - 1980 - at Boston College 30 #11 Stanford 13
Trailing 13-6 early in the 3rd quarter, BC comes out firing behind TB Shelby Gamble (32-154, 2 TDs) and 41% passer and uncle of future Eagle star, Matt Ryan, John Loughery (8-15 145 and 2 TDs) to stun future Hall of Fame QB John Elway and the Stanford Cardinal.
Loughery threw a 25 yard touchdown pass to TE Tim Sherwin and scored on a QB keeper to outplay Elway who was baffled by the BC defense, tossing four interceptions. Gamble put the game away in the 4th quarter on a 25 yard run, part of a 260 yard output on the ground by the Eagles.
Stanford All American and future Patriot All Pro, Brian Holloway, has said he no recollection of the beatdown.
This game marked the only top 20 win in the three year tenure of Ed Chlebek (1-4), whose team promptly followed the win vs the Cardinal with back to back losses at Villanova and Navy!
#10 - 1986 - Boston College 27 #17 Georgia 24 (Hall of Fame Bowl - Tampa)
BC Georgia 1986 Hall of Fame Bowl (via coachjf63)
Kelvin Martin (9 rec. - 98 yds) hauled in a five yard TD pass from Shawn Halloran with 32 seconds left giving Boston College a 27-24 win over Georgia in what I believe was the most exciting bowl game in BC history. BC raced to a 20-7 halftime lead behind a TD catch from TE Peter Casparriello (7-75) and run by Troy Stradford (122 yds), but Vince Dooley's Dawgs rallied to go ahead 24-20 on an interception return for a touchdown and a short run midway through the 4th quarter. Halloran (31-52 316) then lead the Eagles on one final 76 yard march, aided by a critical fourth down interference call deep in UGA territory.
Bill Romanowski lead the Eagle defense, with a Luke Kuechly like 19 tackles.
The win was BCs 8th in a row, a streak that would ultimately stretch to 10 at the start of the '87 season, which to this date marks the longest streak since a 10 gamer over the 1941 and '42 seasons and is second only to the 12 game win streak spanning the 1940 and '41 seasons. Oddly, Jack Bicknell would not guide the Eagles to another bowl game in his final four seasons at the Heights, winning just 12 of the last 42 games he would coach after the streak was snapped.
The game winning fade pattern from Halloran to Martin was a called shot by color analyst for the Mizlou Television network that night, ESPN's own Lee Corso.
#9 - 1994 - at Boston College 30 #8 Notre Dame 11
BC Notre Dame Football 1994 (via coachjf63)
October 8, 1994 was a date so many years in the making for so many in the Boston College community. It may not have been as big as Alabama's first visit to Auburn, but it had so many similarities, as the revered and reviled, Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team stepped onto a football field in Chestnut Hill for the first time.
A stadium in essence had been built for it, as this game, along with the success of the program in the Tom Coughlin era, had pushed the BCAA into the expansion of Alumni Stadium from 32,000 to the 44,500 seat facility we see today. The year was 1994 and rarely had Boston College football been a hotter commodity . Although Coughlin had left after the '93 season to take the reigns of the expansion Jacksonville Jaguars of the NFL, and the team under Dan Henning had struggled to a 1-2 start, the buzz still remained and BC football was one of the hottest tickets in town, and this was the hottest ticket to the hottest game, with seats going for in excess of $500 a piece, at a time when you could get a Patriots ticket for $10. And while the Henning regime has many similarities to what we are seeing now with Frank Spaziani (i.e. take a thriving program and in three years put it in the toilet), on this day, Henning could do no wrong, as the Eagles pounded Lou Holtz' Irish 30-11 in front of Keith Jackson and an ABC National TV audience.
The game was supposed to be redemption for the loss in '93 which cost ND the chance to play for a National Championship as well as a coming out party for the latest Irish QB phenom, Ron Powlus, but neither of those things happened.
After BC FB Omari Walker fumbled on the game's third play leading to a quick ND field goal and an inauspicious start for the Maroon and Gold, the BC defense took control. As in the '93 game it would be DE Mike Mamula leading the charge as the D limited Powlus to just 5-21 passing for only 50 yards and 4 sacks.
Early in the 2nd quarter, Henning, the offensive genius (unfortunately, it was the only game in his tenure we saw this), came to the forefront. A fake field goal and run by holder Matt Hasselbeck set up a David Green TD run just one play later to give the Eagles the lead at 7-3 and then leading by that same score in the 3rd quarter, the offensive line took over. Lead by OG Pete Kendall and running back Justice Smith (27-144, 2 TDs), the Eagles bludgeoned the Irish on the ground, scoring on three straight possessions including a clinching touchdown by Smith on 4th and goal from the Irish 6, going in untouched.
One possession later, all that was left was to run out the clock and as he took a final knee, QB Mark Hartsell sprinted toward the parents' section of Alumni Stadium at which the student crowd surged onto the field in celebration. Said Holtz, "I want to congratulate Boston College. We got beat in every facet of the game today. This was the most physically we've been manhandled in a long, long time."
The win propelled the Eagles into the top 25 and was one of six played that year vs top 20 teams, the most in one season in program history. To gauge the popularity of the program at that time, this game was one of 17 straight home sell outs bridging the 1992-95 seasons, including the first ten games after the stadium expansion. In comparison, since 2008, BC has announced just one non-Notre Dame sell out.
#8 - 1982 - Boston College 17 at #17 Clemson 17
Two weeks after winning at Texas A&M, the Eagles traveled to Death Valley for the first time since 1958 and faced the defending National Champion, Clemson Tigers. The Tigers had opened the season dropping a 13-7 decision to Herschel Walker and the Georgia Bulldogs, but were still a prohibitive favorite against the Eagles. This is the game where the 1982 team showed its metal on the way to the program's first bowl bid in 40 years, tying the Tigers, 17-17.
Clemson jumped to a 14-0 lead before Doug Flutie (18-35 242) rallied the Eagles with 17 straight points including an 11 yard TD run by frosh Troy Stradford and a 15 yard touchdown pass to SE Jon Schoen early in the 4th quarter to tie the game at 14. The ensuing kickoff was fumbled and recovered by BC, setting up Kevin Snow for a 37 yard FG which put the Eagles ahead 17-14. Clemson tied the game on a late Donald Igwebuike FG and then missed a chance to escape with a victory when Igwebuike missssed a 43 yarder with just eight seconds left.
This game in front of a regional CBS TV audience, officially put Doug Flutie and Boston College on the national map and would have warranted a higher place in our ranking had it ended in a win.
A week later after defeating Navy 31-0, BC found itself in the top 20 for the first time since 1976.
#7 - 1992 - #20 Boston College 35 at #9 Penn State 32
In the previous 19 games against the Nittany Lions, BC had only won once (1983) and never at Beaver Stadium, but that all changed on this day as the Eagles rode 344 yards passing and 4 TDs from Glenn Foley to a 35-32 victory.
Trailing 10-7 late in the 2nd quarter, a roughing the kicker penalty against the Lions opened the door and Foley (21-37 344 4 TD 0 INT) took advantage throwing three touchdown passes in the last 3:59 of the half. First it was a 48 yarder to WR Ivan Boyd, followed by a 16 yarder to TE Pete Mitchell with just 59 seconds remaining in the half, but Foley wasn't done. With just one tick left on the clock he found Mitchell again from 29 yards out to send BC to the locker room with a 28-10 lead.
BC extended the lead to 35-10 late in the 3rd quarter on Foley's final TD pass to Greg Grice from 38 yards out, before the Lions roared back with 16 points in the final eight minutes of the game. With one final shot, PSU recovered an onside kick but DB Joe Kamara picked off QB Kerry Collins and the Eagles iced the game away behind TB Chuckie Dukes who ran for 149 yards on 29 carries.
The BC offense would ring up 550 yards in total and 32 first downs in moving to 5-0-1 on the season.
It would mark the beginning of a three game win streak in the series for BC (1992, 2003, 2004) and one that is still active today.
#6 - 1985 - Boston College 45 Houston 28 (Cotton Bowl)
BC Houston Cotton Bowl 1985 (via coachjf63)
Bill Flynn wanted Texas. Since at least the early 1970s, the Boston College Athletic Director had a fascination with the mythical and historic giants of the college football world. If you look at the Eagles major non conference opponents in those days, they were never the second tier programs, only the best would do. So when it came time for Flynn to play his cards, holding the best hand in school history, Flynn wanted nothing but the best and just weeks before bowl selection time, that looked to be the Texas Longhorns. Yes, Boston College, with its soon to be Heisman Trophy winner and ready to cement its place in history with the Flutie to Phelan Hail Mary, was the team that everyone was courting for its New Year's Day Bowl.
Texas sat at #3 in the country on November 10 and Flynn had his target. All that remained for the Horns were games against what appeared to be the bottom of the SWC, starting with the Houston Cougars. Nine turnovers later, yup, thhat's not a misprint, and UT was done. They would win just once more that season and stumble home 7-4-1.
This opened the door for #16 SMU and the afforementioned unranked Cougars to seize the automatic bid to the Cotton Bowl that awaited the now defunct Southwest Conference champions. The bloom was clearly falling off the rose of the Cotton Bowl at this point, but Flynn, who had developed a strong relationship with Cotton Bowl Vice President Jim "Hoss" Brock and essentially had made a gentleman's agreement to send the Eagles to Dallas stayed true to his word and turned down an option to meet #15 LSU in the Sugar Bowl and when Houston won out, holding the tie breaker against SMU, BCs opponent had been confirmed.
The weeks between the Miami game and the Cotton Bowl (considered one of the big four bowl games along with the Rose, Sugar and Orange at that time), were arguably the most high profiled and fun times in BC football history. After closing the season with a rout of Holy Cross, Flutie flew immediately that night to New York to accept his Heisman Trophy. The Eagles were the darlings of Boston sports and more than 25,000 people made their way from Boston to Dallas for the game, to this date, still second only the deployment of troops in World War II for the number of people air lifted out of Boston to a single destination.
So on a cold, rainy Dallas afternoon, Jack Bicknell and his Boston College Eagles took the field against Bill Yeoman's Houston Cougars, looking to cap the season of seasons and deliver the program's first bowl win as well as first major bowl win since 1941.
Flutie wasted little time putting the Eagles on top, hitting Kelvin Martin on the first play of the second BC possession for a 63 yard TD pass. Less than five minutes later, following a Houston fumble recovered by NG Mike Ruth, Troy Stradford (20-196) ran around the left end for a 9 yard TD run and BC seemed in control, up 14-0.
Houston immediately responded, returning Kevin Snow's kickoff for a 98 yard TD, slicing the lead to 14-7.
Undaunted, the Eagles broke the game open, scoring 17 straight points, a Kevin Snow FG, a 13 yard TD reception by Gerard Phelan and a 2 yard over the top leap by Steve Strachan to take a seemingly insurmountable 31-7 lead.
Houston would answer back with a late first half touchdown and then turn the momentum completely in the third quarter closing to within 31-28 by scoring 14 points in just over a minute, the last points when Flutie was picked off for a 25 yard interception return for a TD and the Cougars looked poised to pull the upset.
Order would be restored though midway through the 4th quarter and Strachan (offensive MVP of the game) would put BC back up by 14 with a four yard run and the door would be closed for good with just over a minute left on Stradford's second touchdown of the game, an 18 yard jaunt to ice it away.
Although Flutie would always be the major story in any game, he would be rather pedestrian this day, finishing just 13-37 for 180 yards and 2 INTs battling the elements. His teammates though would more than make up for any struggles, rushing for 353 yards on 50 carries on their way to 533 yards total offense and a Cotton Bowl record for points in a game.
#5 - 1983 - #19 Boston College 27 Penn State 17 (Sullivan Stadium)
As it had been for the better part of 40 years prior to this game and as it would be pretty much until the Nittany Lions left to join the Big Ten, Penn State and Joe Paterno were the standard bearers for Eastern football. The Lambert Trophy emblematic of Eastern supremacy, would find a seemingly permanent home in western Pennsylvania, with PSU capturing 15 of the 22 titles between 1961 and 1982. During that period and stretching back to 1949, Boston College had 11 opportunities to beat the Lions and came out on the short end each and every time. While so many New Englanders carried great respect for the Penn State program and its head coach (my how that all came crashing down), the desire to at some point end that streak and ascend to the top of the Eastern mountain was always one of the paramount goals of the Boston College program. In 1982, it looked possible, but an outstanding Penn State team, as a matter of fact, the greatest team I have ever seen come to Chestnut Hill, withstood a 520 yard passing performance from Doug Flutie to roll to a 52-17 win on their way to Joe Paterno's first national championship. Just one year later, the goal stood firmly within reach and this time, before a sell out crowd at Sullivan Stadium, BC would notch that elusive first win, 27-17.
Keith Jackson, Frank Broyles and a regional ABC TV audience would watch BC come out and soar to a 21-0 lead just seconds into the 2nd quarter. Leading 7-0, Flutie (25-43 380 2 TDs) would find Brian Brennan for what appeared to be a 25 yard pass play, only to have the ball skip off Brennan's hands and into the waiting arms of Troy Stradford who was behind the entire Penn State defense. Stradford took it in the rest of the way for a 42 yard TD and a 14-0 lead.
Penn State would turn the ball over on the ensuing possession and the Eagles would capitalize again, this time with Steve Strachan racing around left end, pushing the margin to three touchdowns.
The Lions would rally behind a 42 yard touchdown run by DJ Dozier and eventually get to within 24-17 with both touchdowns coming as a result of Eagle turnovers.
The game was iced by a 40 yd Kevin Snow FG, set up by the greatest catch I have seen in BC history, a full out, over the shoulder diving reception by Brian Brennan (12-172 1 TD) who landed right at the feet of Joe Paterno.
The win would be Flutie's only one vs PSU (1-3) and the Eagles would go on to drop the next eight in a row to the Lions, but this one would long be remembered and would give BC victories in 1983 over the previous two national cmampions (Penn State, Clemson). Flutie would come back in a 1984 loss at Beaver Stadium to throw for 447 yards, giving him 1482 yards passing in just 3 1/4 games (remember, he took over the QB job in the 4th quarter of a blow out loss at Penn State in 1981) against the Lions.
BC would finish the season at 9-3 and be awarded its first Lambert Trophy as mythical Eastern Champions since 1942.
#4 - 1976 - at Boston College 14 #7 Texas 13
The game which marked the inception of the modern era of Boston College football took place on the night of September 11, 1976, when the Eagles upset the University of Texas, 14-13, before a near sellout crowd at Alumni Stadium.
This was the third try in three years for BC to take on a major powerhouse program to open the season. In 1974 the Eagles has also hosted the Longhorns and been crushed by Darryl Royal's wishbone, 42-9. The next year, the sons of Joe Yukica opened at Schaefer Stadium on Monday Night Football against Notre Dame in their first ever game against BC and fell once again, this time 17-3. Those teams though went from being overwhelmed in '74 to competitive in '75. Many Eagle fans and players believe to this day that if the ultraconservative Yukica had opened up the passing game behind Mike Kruczek, still to this day, the single season and career completion percentage leader in BC history (both over 67% remarkable for that day and age), the Eagles may well have beaten the Irish that night. But much like an NBA team needing to experience defeat to ultimately claim the trophy, those losses served to set the stage for this night.
The tone for the evening was set immediately. On just the second play of the game, BC sophomore TB Neil Green (9-113 1 TD), starting his first varsity game, making his first varsity carry, took a pitch from QB Ken Smith and dashed off tackle behind stellar blocks from tackle Steve Schindler and guard Tom Lynch and took it to the house, finally stumbling and summer saulting into the end zone and put the Eagles on top 7-0. The run should be remembered as one of the great runs in BC history.
Green's first touchdown would wind up being his only career touchdown. He would injure his shoulder later in the game and only carry the ball 55 more times for another 189 yards in his two year career. Neil Green never played his senior season.
Leading 7-0 in the 2nd quarter and backed up to their goal line, the BC defense came up huge, forcing a Texas fumble which the Eagles recovered at their own four. Ken Smith, who threw just 9 passes that night, completing only 4, with 2 interceptions, then lead BC on a remarkable 14 play, 96 yard drive culminating with his own QB sneak from the 1 to push the Eagle lead to 14-0. The picture of Smith buried under the pile of players, with the referee behind the play looking to the heavens and signaling touchdown became the cover of the Sunday Boston Globe the next day.
Texas would cut the lead to 14-7 on a 35 yard pass with just over a minute left in the half and the game would stay that way into the 4th quarter.
The Eagle defense would be a huge story this night, holding Texas to just 10 first downs and 169 yards rushing on 56 carries, which doesn't sound overly impressive until you consider the vaunted Texas wishbone attack, lead by perhaps the greatest fullback in college football history, Earl Campbell. "The Tyler Rose" rushed for just 23 yards on 5 carries that night (what were you thinking Darryl Royal???).
Texas though would not go away and mounted a final drive, moving 72 yards in 13 plays, capped by an 18 yard run by 1976 Montreal Olympic 400 Meter Relay gold medalist, Johnny "Lam" Jones (in case you weren't aware of it, the other half back was named Johnny "Ham" Jones!), to pull within 14-13 with 4:38 remaining.
Enter junior DB Kelly Elias, making the single greatest defensive play in Boston College history, stoning Lam Jones on the option pitch out dead in his tracks at the one yard line on the two point conversion, preserving the one point Eagle lead.
Texas would get one last opportunity to win the game and drove to their own 49 yard line, where they set up their All-American place kicker, Russell Erxleben, to attempt a game winning 68 yard field goal. Now recall, in those days, kickers used a platform tee and it was not uncommon for FGs to be made from 55-60 yards. Erxleben's kick had the distance, but was pushed just left, but wait...a flag...15 yards against BC for roughing the kicker and now a second, much more realistic chance from 53 yards out. Those who say lightning never strikes twice in the same place though were proven wrong as Erxleben's kick was struck to the exact same spot, wide left and Boston College had its upset.
In 1977, Erxleben would set the NCAA Division 1 record for the longest field goal, when he made a 67 yarder against Rice.
The crowd would not leave that night. The field was stormed and I remember standing outside the team locker room in Roberts Center, a 13 year old kid, having the time of his life. My Dad explained to my Mom the next day why we got home at 1 AM!
The win marked BCs first win against a ranked team since 1964, the fifth over a ranked team ever and the first over a top 10 team since the 1941 Sugar Bowl win over Tennessee.
Darryl Royal would retire following the 1976 season, in which these Horns failed to live up to those preseason expectations, ultimately going 5-5-1. BC would enter the national polls the next week and rise as high as #13 following victories over Tulane and Navy to move to 3-0 The Eagles would lose their next game at home to another coaching legend, when Bobby Bowden notched just his second win ever in his first season at Florida State.
BC would finish the year 8-3, but despite the Texas win, would be denied in their quest for the program's first bowl game appearance since 1942.
#3 - 1984 - #18 Boston College 38 at #9 Alabama 31
BC Alabama Football 1984 (via coachjf63)
Following an opening night win at home against 1983 Division 1AA runner up Western Carolina where the Eagles threw up 604 yards of total offense, BC traveled to the self proclaimed "Football Capital of the South", Birmingham, Alabama for a rematch against the #9 Alabama Crimson Tide.
Still smarting from the 20-13 defeat at Sullivan Stadium on Thanksgiving weekend , 1983, the Tide came out rolling to a 31-14 lead early in the third quarter, only to see BC rally for 24 unanswered point to stun the sellout crowd at legendary Legion Field and capture a dramatic 38-31 win. The 17 point deficit overcome is still to this day, the largest margin ever overcome by Boston College in a victory (shared with the 35-30 win at home over Wake Forest in 2005).
BC jumped to an early lead when TE Peter Caspariello forced a fumble on a punt after the first Eagle possession went three and out, setting Doug Flutie and company up on the Bama 28. A key 16 yard completion to Troy Stradford set the Eagles up on the Tide 9, where on 3rd down Stradford finished the drive to make it 7-0 BC.
The biggest Alabama menace of the night would then make his first appearance, when TB Kerry Goode returned Kevin Snow's kickoff 51 yards, setting up the first of three straight Tide touchdowns, the first from three yards out, tying the game at 7. On the next possession Flutie was sacked and fumbled at the Eagle 25 and on the very next play, it was Goode who would score from 25 yards out and just like that it was 14-7 Bama.
It continued to head downhill from there, when Flutie was sacked at the BC 10 ultimately setting up a punting situation and once again it Goode, this time on an 18 yard pass from Mike Shula and things were rapidly getting out of hand at 21-7.
Just when it looked like the Eagles were ready to drown in the Crimson Tide, the Eagles settled down, driving to the Bama 5 where on 4th down, Cowboy Jack Bicknell rolled the dice and Flutie scrambling threw a floater to a wide open Steve Strachan and in back left corner of the end zone to slice the deficit back to 7.
Alabama wasn't done though and nearly built the lead back to 14, but a diving catch in the end zone was nullified forcing a FG instead and sending the Eagles to the locker room in some trouble, but breathing at 24-14.
Note that I watched this game at a party on campus on the 8th floor of Edmonds, probably like most of the other 8500 undergrads that night across Chestnut Hill. Hopes were high heading into the half, knowing that things couldn't have gone much worse and that of course..we had Flutie..and they didn't.
They did though, have Kerry Goode.
The game, the party, all of it changed on the opening kickoff of the 2nd half, when Goode took the kick, and went 99 yards down the left sideline, essentially untouched to stretch the lead to 31-14. To us as 20-21-22 year old kids, the game was over..but there was still plenty to drink...we poked our heads in to watch the TV set every once in a while and were happy when CB Tony Thurman intercepted a Shula pass, returning it to the Bama 10, setting up a 5 yard Flutie run getting BC back within 10 at 31-21.
Ah, but Thurman wasn't done. The forgotten hero in the win (he would wind up with 3 interceptions on the night, 12 for the season and 25 for his career, all BC records), picked off his 2nd pass leading to a FG and cutting the margin back to a touchdown with just under 12 minutes left. The naysayers were all back in the room and in front of the TV by this time.
Getting the ball back, Flutie (19-38 254 2 TDs), drove BC from its own 43 to the Bama 5, where with just under 6 minutes remaining it was decision time and Cowboy Jack rolled his dice again on 4th down. This time Flutie found seldom used FB Jim Browne on a naked bootleg who was wide open for the score pulling BC to within 1. Bicknell put his six shooter back in his pocket and after a timeout to debate going for 2, settled for the kick and a 31-31 tie.
The defense then came up big again and almost immediately got the ball back to Flutie and the offense who didn't take long to cash in. It took just two plays from the BC 43 once again. A Flutie to Gerard Phelan pass of 12 yards, before one of the great runs in Eagle history a footloose, twisting, bobbing, classic Troy Stradford (24-106 2 TD) 42 yard sprint through the middle of the Tide defense to the end zone.
Thurman would seal the game just over a minute later with his third pick and BC had shocked the nation.
Said Stradford, "When you looked across the line, you could see it in their eyes that they didn't want it anymore. They saw that kick return didn't break our back. And they had to say "whoa, what's this team made of".
Needless to say, anyone connected with BC was out of their tree that night. The feeling on campus was one that you only get to experience once or twice in your four years and even in Birmingham, the first of the large BC flags, which belonged to a friend from Wellesley, made its way triumphantly across Legion Field.
BC would go on to win its first four game in 1984, rising to #4 in the country with a rout of North Carolina and a slide past Temple, before another of what would be a series of devastating losses to West Virginia.
Obviously, we all know where this season would end, but on the night of September 8, 1984, it didn't get any better than being an Eagle.
#2 - 1984 - #10 Boston College 47 at #12 Miami 45
BC Miami Football 1984 (via coachjf63)
I am assuming that a majority of you felt this would be the #1 game on the list, but I put it at #2. The story by this point has been told time and time again. In a back and forth game on a rainy south Florida afternoon the day after Thanksgiving, Doug Flutie threw a 48 yard Hail Mary pass to Gerard Phelan on the last play of the game, giving Boston College its most famous win ever, a 47-45 triumph over defending national champion Miami.
The pass has gone down in college football lore as "The Miracle in Miami" and along with the Stanford Band play in 1982 as one of the two most famous plays in college football history.
"Flood Tip" was the call, a play that most don't recall was actually run earlier that year at halftime of the Temple game at home. Unbelievably, it worked that day as well, with Phelan also making the catch. On this day, it was debatable if it would even come down to that.
The Canes were loaded. They had won their first ever National Championship in 1983, defeating Nebraska 31-30 in the Orange Bowl, under the direction of Howard Schnellenberger. Following the season, Schnellenberger had departed for the USFL and was replaced by a brash young coach out of Oklahoma State, Jimmy Johnson.
The names of the stars just read like a who's who of college football. QB Bernie Kosar, RB Melvin Bratton, WR Eddie Brown, DT Jerome Brown, RB Alonzo Highsmith..even the backups, like QB Vinny Testaverde, would go on to be stars. They had speed and they had attitude. Fortunately for BC, they also had some problems.
They entered the game 8-3 on the season, very disappointing considering the collection of players they returned from 1983 and had just experienced the single biggest collapse in college football history, blowing a 31-0 halftime lead and losing at home, to the Frank Reich lead Maryland Terrapins, 42-40.
The Eagles on the other hand had bounced back from their second and final loss of the season at Penn State to beat Army and Syracuse. Following the win over Syracuse at Sullivan Stadium, the Eagles were unofficially invited to play in the 1985 Cotton Bowl. The official invite was set to be handed out after the Miami game and it didn't appear that the result of the game was relevant to that invite.
As you would figure in a game that had 92 total points scored in it, both teams came out strong. BC scored on its first possession, a 33 yard Flutie to Kelvin Martin touchdown and followed it up with a Ken Bell 1 yard run to go on top 14-0.
Miami responded behind Bernie Kosar who set a Miami record with 447 yards and 2 TDs on 25-38 passing to tie the game up.
Back and forth this went, with the Eagles taking a 28-21 lead into the half and CBS TV announcers Pat Haden, Ara Parseghian and Brent Musberger, only half joking that the last time to have the ball would win.
As the game got into the second half, it was clear the Eagle defense in particular was tiring. TB Melvin Bratton took the game over in the second half, ultimately accounting for 134 yards and 4 TDs, the final one a 1 yard run with just 28 seconds remaining which put Miami in front 45-41 capping a 79 yard drive. Famous in that drive was the timeout taken where Kosar is heard on camera telling Johnson to run it "right the f*** at them".
Kosar and the Canes appeared to have the game won. The Miami defensive coaches had left the press box to join the celebration on the field and in the locker room and even as Jack Bicknell thought it was over. "We just couldn't stop their guys," BC coach Jack Bicknell said. "They were too fast for us. We just could . . . not . . . keep . . . up. Couldn't." Bicknell even admitted afterward that he was thinking of how he would console the team after the game following the Bratton touchdown.
Someone forgot to tell Flutie, who in the famous television clip is shown, helmet on, simply nodding..understanding the task at hand and resolute to complete it.
Given the 28 seconds, he would first throw for 19 yards to Troy Stradford and then another 13 to TE Scott Gielesman, moving the ball to the Miami 48 and setting up history.
So much has been made of the final play. It has been dissected again and again. First the defensive back allowed Gerard Phelan a free release off the line of scrimmage and then inexplicably the safety let him get behind him into the end zone, breaking one of the key rules "deep as the deepest". It was always speculated that the Miami players simply didn't believe Flutie had that type of arm strength. Then of course...
Here we go...here's your ballgame, folks, as Flutie takes the snap. He drops straight back...has some time, now scrambles away from one hit...looks...uncorks a deep one to the endzone, Phelan is down there...OH HE GOT! HE GET IT? HE GOT IT! TOUCHDOWN!! TOUCHDOWN!! TOUCHDOWN!! TOUCHDOWN!! TOUCHDOWN BOSTON COLLEGE!! HE DID IT!! HE DID IT!! FLUTIE DID IT!! HE GOT PHELAN IN THE ENDZONE!! TOUCHDOWN!! OH MY GOODNESS...WHAT A PLAY!! FLUTIE TO GERARD PHELAN!! 48 YARDS!! NO TIME ON THE CLOCK, IT'S ALL OVER!! - Dan Davis..WBZ radio along with his color analyst Gino Cappelletti
Flutie would wind up in the arms of Milton's Steve Trapilo (who tragically passed from a heart attack in 2004), never meeting up with Phelan until some 15 minutes later in the locker room. Phelan would catch 11 passes for 226 yards and 2 TDs, while Flutie would throw for (34-46) 472 yards and 3 touchdowns, becoming the first QB in major college history to pass for in excess of 10,000 yards.
The 1984 team would finish the season 10-2 and become the only Boston College team in history to be ranked in the top 20 for every week of a given season. The 2005 team would spend the whole season in the top 25, but five of those weeks were below 20. Remember at the time only 20 teams were ranked weekly.
#1 - 1993 - #17 Boston College 41 at #1 Notre Dame 39
bc_nd93.mp4 (via Kylebc94)
Before going into the details of the game, the question obviously is why is this game #1, in particular over the Miami game which most college football fans, most BC fans, would probably pick?
- The importance of the game: This was the last regular season game for the Irish, who had just come off the so called "Game of the Century" where they defeated Charlie Ward and #1 Florida State to ascend to the top of the polls. A win here and ND would have been one win away from the program's 9th or 12th or 14th (depending on who is counting) national championship. Almost 20 years later now and that day has never come. BC put Notre Dame in a tailspin that they truly have never recovered from For BC, entering the game winners of seven in a row and this win kept alive the hopes of not only a Big East championship, but a trip to the Sugar Bowl. While in the Miami game, everything had already been decided. Flutie was going to win the Heisman and the Eagles were going to the Cotton Bowl regardless of the result and Miami was not the Miami team of just a year before.
- Beating #1: To date, this is still BC's only win ever over a #1 team. The Eagles have played #1 four times and are 1-3, losing three times to Miami (1991, 2001, 2002), with the ND game being the only win.
- Beating Notre Dame and the historical context of the win: No matter that Notre Dame has struggled in the past 20 years and perhaps because they have struggled, this game takes on an even bigger meaning. You beat Notre Dame! At Notre Dame! With them in position to play for a National Championship! After arguably one of their biggest wins ever! And since that day, nothing has ever been the same for Notre Dame football! And you did it with a flare for the dramatic which will live in college football lore forever. This marked BCs first win against Notre Dame after dropping the first four, including a 54-7 beat down just a year earlier in South Bend, when Lou Holtz ran the famous fake punt with a 37-0 lead in the 3rd quarter. BC had entered the game undefeated and ranked #9 with the #1 statistical offense in college football and left with its tail firmly between its legs.
- The quality of the game: Not that the Miami game had poor quality, far from it, but this game was at least its equal and had not just a back and forth, but multiple huge momentum shifts that simply enhanced the drama.
As for the game, BC showed no fear from that 1992 game and showed that the 93 team and all its offensive firepower was legitimate this time. The Eagle offense was machine like behind Glenn Foley (30-48 315 and 4 TDs) and TE Pete Mitchell, who set a school record with 13 catches on his way to an All-America campaign.
BC took a 24-14 lead into the half, the score sending shockwaves through stadiums all over college football, but it would only get more pronounced when FB Darnell Campbell, the nation's leading scorer, took it in from 21 yards out, midway through the 3rd to open the lead to 31-14. Tom Coughlin, sensing the kill, then opted for the onside kickoff, catching the Irish completely off guard and when reserve DB Peter Marciano bounced on the free ball, Foley and company were back on the field again.
Pete Mitchell would then catch Foley's final TD pass to put the Eagles in a seemingly insurmountable lead of 38-17, but ND would rally. The Notre Dame run game, stymied through the first three quarters caught fire. A Lee Becton 29 yard run, then the first of two fumbled QB/C exchanges between Glenn Foley and Tom Nalen, would open the doors for a big 41 yard run by Becton setting up a Ray Zellars TD and suddenly with 4:02 left, it was 38-32.
The second of the two fumbled exchanges would force a BC punt on the next possession, setting the Irish up for the go ahead drive. On the very first play of that possession, Kevin McDougall would go long to Derrick Mayes who would make a brilliant tumbling catch putting ND deep in BC territory.
Finally on 4th down and goal from the BC 4, McDougall would barely avoid a sack by blitzing linebacker Brian Howlett and find Lake Dawson sliding across the back of the end zone. The conversion kick gave Notre Dame their first and only lead of the day with 1:09 left at 39-38.
The ensuing kickoff was fumbled by Anthony Comer at the goal line, by the time he recovered, the Eagles would be pinned deep in their territory, but this is where the saga began to turn. ND was penalized 15 yards for what seemed to be a phantom roughing penalty and moved BC out to reasonable field position.
A screen pass to Comer, a game saving drop of a sure interception by Irish LB Pete Bercich which would have ended the game, extended BCs luck. Foley would follow with back to back completions to Mitchell and then one of Tom Coughlin's favorite plays (before it became everyone's favorite play), the tunnel screen to Ivan Boyd, put BC at the Notre Dame 24 with just 5 seconds left, putting PK David Gordon, in the spot light.
Gordon had missed a similar kick in week 2 at Northwestern allowing the Wildcats to pull out a 22-21 win. The son of the President of the Hartford Whalers had been a soccer player with virtually no football experience and much like Steve Aponavicious of recent days, had troubles on anything outside of 40 yards. This attempt would be from 41.
Nalen (who would wind up winning multiple Super Bowl's as John Elway's center with the Denver Broncos and still holds the Bronco record for most games played) would snap the ball extremely high to Foley who also served as Gordon's holder. Foley actually half stands up to receive the snap but gets the ball down clean to Gordon, who initially looks to hook the ball right. Listening to the tape, you can actually hear someone say "he missed it". But the ball would knuckle back to the left and good, giving BC the win.
The images of Pete Kendall sprinting toward the end zone and tossing his helmet into the air, the pile of players on the field, the number of BC students and fans who ran onto the field at Notre Dame stadium, is still fresh in my mind.
The win would move BC from #17 up to #11 and set up a winner take all showdown for the Big East title with undefeated #5 West Virginia the following week at Alumni Stadium. BC would dominate the game, but be unable to put the Mountaineers away and a devastating fumble by RB David Green at the WVU 37 yard line with under 2 minutes left, would be turned into a touchdown, denying BC its first New Year's Day bowl and first Big East title in a 17-14 loss.
BC would ultimately accept a trip to the Blockbuster Bowl in Miami where they would trounce Virginia 31-13. that UVA team was lead by George Welsh and a young assistant coach named Tom O'Brien. The Eagles would finish the season at 9-3 and ranked #13 in the country, their highest final ranking since the 84 season and a mark that would not be surpassed until the 2007 team finished #11.
For my money, despite the final record, this was the best Boston College team I have seen in my 42 years of watching them.
So now you've seen them all...what do you think?
Starting on Tuesday morning, we will post the playoff schedule and determine the best of 1970-99 and at the conclusion of the voting, will look to integrate the games of the past 12 years to determine the best BC games of the past 40 plus years.