It would be easy to look at the 56-10 score from Clemson's beat down of Boston College Friday night and simply say that Clemson is really good, and BC isn't.
That is, on the surface, true. Clemson is really good, maybe national championship good, and Boston College hasn't won an ACC game in its last 11 tries.
But Friday night was more than Clemson beating Boston College, it was also Boston College beating itself... Again
Clemson began the night by going three-and-out, then gifting the Eagles a 1st and goal from the Tiger 4-yard line off a muffed punt. But, BC had to settle for a field goal three plays later, the first of several missed opportunities for the Eagles on the night.
The Eagles then allowed Clemson to score touchdowns on its next three drives, as a combination of Clemson's brilliance (WR Mike Williams made two great catches and QB Deshaun Watson looked every bit the Heisman candidate he's billed as), and BC's mistakes (a missed tackle on a 59-yard Wayne Galliman TD run, a blown coverage on a 56-yard TD pass to TE Jordan Leggett) put the Eagles behind the proverbial 8-ball.
Still, BC had a chance in the second quarter to make this a game, and avoid the blowout fate it suffered three weeks ago at Virginia Tech. The Eagles put together a 13-play, 79 yard drive that ate up nearly 7 minutes, but came up empty when seemingly everything went wrong down by the goal line.
Following a 22-yard pass to tight end Tommy Sweeney, the Eagles faced first and goal at the Tiger 8-yard line.
Redshirt freshman running back Davon Jones would push BC even closer, fighting his way for five yards to the three, then two more yards to the one, bringing up third and goal.
That's when things fell apart, as a pair of botched snaps caused quarterback Patrick Towles to be tackled twice in the backfield. Luckily for BC, the second botched snap was preceded by a Clemson offside penalty, but Towles would be stopped again on the Eagles' next crack at fourth down.
Earlier in the game the Eagles lost center Jon Baker, who did not return with an ankle injury, but after the game Towles was quick to shoulder the blame.
"We had a new center, and I have to do a better job of getting the snaps," Towles said. "That's my fault. We got it fixed as the drives went on, but that's my fault and I will fix that."
The extent of Baker's injury is unknown at this point, but coach Steve Addazio did say that his junior center couldn't "push off" at all. Obviously, Baker would be a huge loss for an offensive line that is struggling with consistency so far this year.
That goal line sequence cost the Eagles the chance to cut the lead to 21-10, but they would get ANOTHER chance before intermission.
Following a three-and-out forced by the defense near the Clemson end zone, BC started at the Tiger 49-yard line after a punt. The Eagles would pick up a first down to the Tiger 37, but a pair of sacks on Towles ended the drive, and Clemson went to the half leading by 18.
"Obviously, we lost Jon Baker and had an exchange out at center, (that) created some issues for us on the six-inch line right there," Boston College coach Steve Addazio said. "(Scoring) would have been able to get us to 21-10 at the half, which we really felt like we needed to be."
"But we were playing real hard at that point… Even at halftime at 21-3, we felt good that we could get something going in the second half," Addazio continued. "In the beginning, and in the second half, we just had some incredible things go against us."
Indeed things would continue to not go BC's way in the third quarter, as the Eagles went three-and-out, then watched Watson march the Tigers down for another score. On BC's next drive, the Eagles picked up back-to-back first downs, but an 11-yard sack of Towles put them in a hole they couldn't dig out of.
Watson threw another touchdown pass on Clemson's next drive to make it 35-3, effectively ending the game.
Now, there's no shame in getting beaten by a great team, and that's just what Clemson is, but the Eagles were their own worst enemy Friday night. Missed tackles and blown coverages gave up chunk plays to an offense explosive enough to capitalize, and the Eagles couldn't take advantage of any of their golden opportunities on offense, at least not while the game was still in the balance.
Is this what BC is in 2016- a team that can beat up on small conference foes, but lets mistakes compound against better competition? So far, yes, but as Addazio was quick to point out, his team's goal are still ahead of it. Boston College is 3-3 halfway through the year, with winnable games left against Syracuse, NC State, UConn and Wake Forest, but the margin for error grows slimmer every week.
Let's face it, most fans had this game penciled in as a loss before the season, and while BC didn't earn any style points tonight, the Eagles can atone for this loss in two weeks by beating Syracuse. If they don't do that, then the sky may truly be falling on the Eagles' 2016 season, and the groans of the fan base will likely be deafening.
Small mistakes against ranked teams like Clemson and Virginia Tech lead to blowout losses, but those same mistakes can also cost the Eagles some of those winnable games. If BC doesn't get out of its own way, this season's user-friendly schedule could be wasted.