In 1981, an unheralded freshman quarterback from Natick named Doug Flutie, replaced John Loughery during a blowout loss at #2 Penn State. Under Flutie, the Eagles would start to gain momentum that season despite finishing 5-6 and head into the 1982 campaign with high expectations.
The '82 season couldn't have started any better, with Flutie leading BC to a surprisingly easy 38-16 win over Jackie Sherrill and Texas A&M in College Station before the Eagles headed to Clemson to face the defending national champion Tigers.
Clemson entered the game ranked 16th in the country after starting the season at #7. The Tigers (0-1) had lost their opening game to Herschel Walker and #4 Georgia, 13-7, but make no mistake about it, Danny Ford's team was once again national championship caliber.
Could BC actually compete with a team that had just won a title, on their soil in an environment we all know now is one the best in America? On this day, the Eagles, as a 12 point underdog, were up to the challenge.
It didn't start well. Clemson led 14-0 at the half although the game was far more even than the score indicated, but the CU defense which would finish 12th in the country in scoring and featuring familiar names William "The Refrigerator" Perry and Terry Kinard would hold the Eagles at bay.
BC took their first possession of the 2nd half and drove 72 yards, mostly on the ground and mostly behind the work of freshman Troy Stradford, who fumbled the ball twice during an 11 yard TD run to make it 14-7.
Flutie regained his touch early in the 4th quarter to pull BC even at 14. Converting a 36 yard pass to TE Scott Nizolek on third down got the ball to the Clemson 17 and he then finished the drive hitting a wide open Jon Schoen for a 15 yard touchdown.
BC created a turnover on the ensuing kickoff with Steve Lubischer recovering a fumble to set the Eagles up at the Clemson 38. Flutie got the offense to the 21 where it stalled and Worcester State transfer Kevin Snow came on and got the Eagles a 17-14 lead converting a 37 yard FG.
Clemson would tie it on a Donald Igwebuike 43 yarder and then both squads would have a chance to take the win in the last few minutes. First it was BC who drove 56 yards to the Tiger 24 before Flutie was sacked and took Snow just out of FG range.
Igwebuike would get his chance as well and would miss another 43 yard attempt following Bicknell icing him with a time out.
The game was one that despite being down 14, most thought the Eagles could have and perhaps, should have won. To think that a team that just four short years earlier had finished 0-11 would think that way against the defending champions, showed how far this program had come.
BC would go on to finish 8-2-1 and land its first bowl berth since 1942 against Bo Jackson and Auburn. Clemson on the other hand would not suffer another blemish on its record, finishing 9-1-1 and #8 in the country. Over a three year period the Tigers would lose just two and tie just two (30-2-2), one of those ties (this 17-17 one) and one of the losses (31-16 at BC in 1983) would come at the hands of the Eagles.
September 18 Notes:
BC is 3-1-1 on September 18, with wins over Buffalo (Home, 18-6, 1965), Temple (Home, 17-3, 1971) and Navy (Away, 14-10, 1998), a loss at Northwestern 22-21 in 1993 that may have cost BC a chance at being involved in the National Title picture that season and the Clemson tie mentioned above.