Brian: Two sides of the same coin: Boston College loses its first bowl game since 1999 OR Vanderbilt wins its first bowl game since 1955 ... the ACC notches its first BCS bowl victory since the 1999-2000 season ... and Notre Dame wins its first bowl game since we were 12 years old. Streaks fell left and right this bowl season. Break it down for us. What does it all mean?
Jeff: The Boston College streak coming to an end was probably least surprising. Notre Dame going to play Hawaii in their home stadium and win in a game that some thought "Notre Dame was too good for and should've refused to play in" was the most surprising. Notre Dame came to play in that game and fired on all cylinders for the first time in a long long time. Virginia Tech was a slight underdog in their game and looked like they were going to get stomped on when Cincinnati drove straight down the field for a TD in the first two minutes of the game. Fortunately for the ACC, they bounced back and dominated the rest of the game scoring 20 unanswered points.
Finally we get to the BC loss which just was not all that surprising. BC is a top 15 team in 2008 if they had no injuries. When Alex Albright got hurt, people wrote us off. Now, Albright is a distant memory after Toal and Crane Went down. Remember another guy named Jeff Smith? Coming into the season he was supposed to compete for the starting RB position and also provide excitement on kickoff returns. But unfortunately, he didn't see the field in the second half of the season. So everyone knows about the Chris Crane injury which was probably the straw that broke the camels back and sent us to Nashville instead of say, the Orange Bowl but Chris Crane alone does not tell the whole story. Finally, in game injuries cost us continuation of our bowl streak. Had Rich Gunnell not been injured and fielded that punt which turned into a Vandy TD, BC wins the game. Injuries hurt us big time this year.
Brian: Sure injuries hurt us this year, but we still should have beat a 6-6 Vanderbilt team, no?
Jeff: Agreed, the Eagles still should've beaten Vanderbilt in their back yard but they just didn't want to be there and I don't blame them. These are only 18-22 year old kids and, just like the fans, just do not get completely pumped for every game they play. Last year, did BC get snubbed? Sure, but at least they landed in a Florida Bowl game and played in front of 10,000ish BC fans so it was easy to get up for the game. The prior year, BC got snubbed and played Navy in Charlotte. BC was not excited and played flat but got a huge break at the end with a fumble recovery and Aponavicius hit a game winner to win the game. The previous time we fell to Charlotte we played North Carolina the year before heading to the ACC so the coaches had an easy time getting the players excited to show how they could compete in their new conference. Finally, in Boise, the mayor was kind enough to fire up our coaches and players at the lunch or dinner (whatever it was) before the game where he spoke and insulted Kiwi. This was truly the first bowl game that our guys had nothing to be excited about and nor did our fans. Result was that we played just good enough to win. Unfortunately though, we got two terrible breaks which cost us the game.
Brian: I don't know if they were fired up or not ... they just got punched in the mouth.
I think the injuries contributed to the loss, but it wasn't the lone reason we lost. There were definitely some questionable offensive playcalls from Steve Logan, most memorably the 4th and 1 delayed draw call from the shotgun. Dominique Davis seemed to press most of the game when Vanderbilt was giving him the under routes. BC didn't take advantage of those and didn't seem to want to dink-and-dunk the 'Dores. Davis' final INT at the end of the game certainly didn't have to be thrown. Also, you need to establish Montel Harris on the ground if you want a chance to win the game.
Jeff: What pisses me off is that there are so many things that contributed to us losing by only two points, yet people think we're going to suck next year.
- Punt fumble recovery for TD
- The Herzlich personal foul
- Bad playcalling
- Vanderbilt makes 45 yard field goal in a windy stadium
- Poor Gameplan
- Montel Harris couldn't catch a cold early on
- Playing in Nashville
- No penalties called on the Commodores
I know there's more I can't think of AND WE ONLY LOST BY 2!!
Brian: I just think BC fans need to re-learn how to lose bowl games. Clemson has lost the last 3 straight bowls. Virginia Tech was 0 for BCS until yesterday's Orange Bowl win. Yet both these programs will continue to be regarded as conference powerhouses. There is simply too much of an emphasis on a virtual exhibition game played nearly a month after the regular season ends. Boston College should still be considered a contender in the ACC. Sure it hurts to see the bowl streak snapped to a 6-6 Vanderbilt team, but I'll gladly take a 9 win season given all the losses to graduation in the offseason and the injuries accumulated during the season.
As a final note, the loss also snaps BC's nation-leading non-conference winning streak at 21 games. Before the Music City Bowl, the Eagles last lost a non-conference game on September 25, 2004 with a 17-14 loss at Wake Forest. LSU now has the nation's longest out-of-conference winning streak at 19 games.
Brian: Mark Herzlich's fourth quarter roughing the passer penalty - worst referee call of the year?
Jeff: Worst call in a BC game, yes. Vanderbilt had no penalties called against them.
Brian: Agreed. What we he supposed to do?? Stop in mid air?
Jeff: In 2001, Kenny Harley passes up on a 3 point attempt with only seconds to play when BC was down 3 to USC in the NCAA tournament. Within our group of friends, the phrase "What would Kenny Harley do?" was born. On Wednesday, the punt hit Paul Anderson and he threw his hands up to say it didn't hit him in front of 50,000 who then knew for sure that it hit him just by the way he reacted alone. Coin a phrase for me, inspired by Paul Anderson's actions, to use with the cops the next time I get pulled over for speeding after slamming on the breaks when I pass a speed trap.
Brian: I don't think I can coin a phrase as succinct as WWKHD? but I do think a quote from the Matrix applies here - "You have a problem with authority, Mr. Anderson. You believe you are special, that somehow the rules do not apply to you. Obviously, you are mistaken."
Brian: As we close out 2008, lists abound. Here is the Boston Herald's list of the 8 greatest accomplishments for local colleges in 2008. Three BC accomplishments make the list. Which one of the three was the greatest accomplishment?
Jeff: BC national championship in hockey is certainly #1. I would've had Boston College winning its division above Matt Ryan being drafed, though.
Brian: The men's hockey team tries to shake off the holiday break rust as they play a pair of exhibition games against the University of New Brunswick this weekend. Your stance on allowing Canadian universities to join the NCAA and play Division I ice hockey?
Jeff: I have no problem with it for hockey, but once you do it for hockey won't you have to for every sport?
Brian: The NFL playoffs are finally here. Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons travel west to play the Arizona Cardinals tomorrow in NFC Wild Card action. All four road teams (including the Falcons) are favorites to win this weekend. Make a prediction - who wins? And which home team has the best shot at pulling off the upset this weekend?
Jeff: Atlanta has the best chance of winning of all the road teams because Arizona is the least deserving playoff team and Miami has the best chance of protecting its home turf.
Jeff: Last one, the men's basketball team beat Sacred Heart on Wednesday in front of 2,137 fans. The Eagles open up ACC play this Sunday against the No. 1 ranked UNC Tar Heels. Obviously winning this game would be an amazing accomplishment for the Eagles but you and I and everyone else assume they won't. How close do the Eagles need to keep it for you to be happy with their performance?
Brian: Considering the Heels have been straight up smacking around opponents in their first 12 games - outscoring opponents by over 26 points per game - I'll say a 10 point loss is a moral victory.