After opening the season with two crucial games in three weeks, Boston College hits a relatively easy skid in the middle of the season. While opponents pick up conference play and start battling in those tough, rugged physical games, the schedule eases for the Eagles with back-to-back games against lower-level competition.
It’s a good way to ease the grind before the team has to play Clemson in a nationally-televised game on Friday, October 7th. Prior to the Wagner game, the coaches will have three games of data on which to base decision-making, but they won’t really have a chance to work on mitigation in game situations.
This two game stretch gives them a chance to work on or try out different play calls, practice in real situations in preparation for Clemson, and accumulate ever more data.
After the Wagner game on September 24th, the Eagles take on the Buffalo Bulls. There are a lot worse opponents BC could schedule than UB, but let’s not beat around the bush; this is a game designed to get the Eagles a win and assure them of some quality work before playing the Tigers the next week.
School: State University of New York at Buffalo
Recommended Blog: Bull Run
Conference Affiliation: Mid-American Conference
Date of Game: October 1, 2016
Location: Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts
Head Coach: Lance Leipold, 2nd Year
There’s a good chance you’ve never heard of the name of the Buffalo head coach, and that’s a real shame. Entering his second year, he represents one of the real coaching hire coups that, to this day, I’ll never understand why nobody took a shot sooner.
Prior to last season’s inaugural year in Buffalo, Leipold served as the eight-year head coach at Wisconsin-Whitewater in the Division III Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Over the span, he won six national championships in seven title game appearances (all against historic Mount Union), five undefeated seasons, and a 109-6 record.
It’s impossible to fathom how good UW-W really was. Between 2009 and 2014, the Warhawks went 75-3, losing all of those games during a 2012 season where they finished second in the WIAC and failed to qualify for the postseason. In contrast, those six losses in eight years were one less than what the Bulls lost in their first year under Leipold.
2015 Record: 5-7 (3-5 MAC)
Recapping the 2015 Season:
Seven games into the 2014 season, Buffalo sacked head coach Jeff Quinn despite a 3-4 record. Maybe it was because two of their wins were against FCS teams Duquesne and Norfolk State and losses were against Army and Eastern Michigan. Despite a two-win flourish over Akron and UMass at the end of the year, the season was lost before it ever really began, the team needed a fresh start.
Enter Lance Leipold and the 2015 Bulls. In their first year of the new regime, Buffalo entered the final three games of the season needing one win for bowl eligibility, and that was after their paycheck loss to Penn State (which they only lost, 27-14).
It was an up-and-down season that got them there. The Bulls had a win over Albany (FCS) and Florida Atlantic (3-9 in ‘15) and played Penn State hard in a loss. Then they promptly lost three in a row to Nevada, Bowling Green, and Central Michigan. Then they won three in a row over Ohio, Miami University, and Kent State.
But three straight losses at the end of the year killed the Bulls. After losing to Northern Illinois and Akron, an inexplicable loss to Massachusetts on the season’s last week kept the team out of a bowl game. In that one, they trailed 28-17 at the half but couldn’t failed to make up the difference in a 31-26 defeat.
With the exception of the win over Ohio and the loss to UMass, Buffalo very much was who everyone thought they were. They beat teams that finished behind them (save for the Minutemen) and lost to teams finishing ahead of them (save for the Bobcats). They held their own with Penn State and Nevada.
At the end of the season, Leipold received a one-year extension to ensure him of remaining in Buffalo until at least 2020.
Preseason Excitement Level: 2/10
Like the Wagner game, there isn’t a whole lot about this game that can be exciting. Buffalo is team that missed bowl eligibility out of the MAC, which essentially means they’re coming to BC to do what NIU did last season - hang tough, put a scare into the Eagles, and maybe, just maybe, pick up a win. It’s also what the Bulls did to Penn State last season.
But we all know what this game is meant to do. Last year’s NIU game was the first chance to settle a suddenly-volatile quarterback situation, something nobody foresaw until the end of the Florida State game. Before the season, there’s nary a fan who would’ve thought that game would turn up the way that it did.
So there’s no point to expect anything differently. For what it’s worth, I don’t necessarily hate Buffalo, but I would be perfectly happy with this game being over early.
This game falls during Parents’ Weekend at The Heights, an annual rite that usually boosts some attendance numbers but ends with an incredibly weird atmosphere. Every year, Parents’ Weekend usually provides some kind of attendance bump, but it’s a later-arriving, earlier-leaving group of people.
They come to the game after their morning plans, then have to leave to get ready for their evening dinner plans. The crowd is also usually full of people who are there to enjoy the day and spend time with their students. BC would behoove themselves to end this one early to spare the sight of parents leaving the game early to get to those dinner plans while the game is still going on. Adding in that it’s against a MAC special, that wouldn’t make us all feel good.
That said, Parents’ Weekend did lead to my favorite exchange ever in the stands. When the students were throwing a coed up in the air, a guy sitting in my section said, “Boy look what $50K per year can get you - your daughter getting thrown in the air by a bunch of drunk frat boys.”
To this day, I’ve never seen a more horrified look on someone’s face than as that parent.