Friday is a monumental game, one that has been circled by BC fans everywhere going into the 2018 season. It seems like every Boston College game moving forward is going to be critical to the overall success/failure of this season but Friday’s Red Bandana game against the Miami Hurricanes remains the biggest game of the year, and one that the Eagles have to win.
Going into this season, hope was high for both teams. Miami was a Top 10 school in the polls, while BC was riding a surge of positivity from the media with a truck load of experienced talent returning to Steve Addazio’s program. Both programs however have been inconsistent this year, with BC getting stomped by a now very good Purdue Boilermakers team, while Miami has dropped out of the Top 25 and suffered a loss to the Virginia Cavaliers, an outcome that no one other than Bronco Mendenhall expected heading into this season. For a team that was a slam dunk to win the Coastal, a title they can still win, Miami has to beat Boston College. Friday’s game at Chestnut Hill is a crossroads game for both programs for a variety of reasons.
Friday will raise a magnifying glass on the Eagles, as they face off with the number one rushing defense in the country. We don’t know if AJ Dillon will return, but even if he can’t, will Steve Addazio and Scot Loeffler adapt the offense, or will they just continue to pound the rock. If they can adapt, they should still be able to put up points, but if BC insists on running David Bailey up the gut 30+ times, this game will mirror many of the other games BC has played against elite defenses, where they struggle and allow a beatable team escape. This can not happen.
If Steve Addazio wants to shake the perception that he can’t win big games, or games that they aren’t favored in, Miami is the perfect game to do that. Shake off the playbook, remember that you have an offense that can pass the ball effectively when the calls are correct, and for the love of god don’t run it on 80% of first down plays. This is a game that needs to mirror the 2014 USC game plan, let Anthony Brown make some plays, and keep the offense fast and loose and let the emotions of the home crowd lift the team. He has the weapons, Tommy Sweeney, Jeff Smith, Kobay White and Michael Walker can all play the role of Sherm Alston and make plays that turn the game. However, it will be up to the coaching staff to make sure they get the ball.
Also, I think we can all agree that the measuring stick of success for this season has been raised. Steve Addazio has won 7 games 4 out of his 5 seasons here, and this season has developed into an “8 win or bust” minimum expectation. BC has 5 wins right now with Syracuse, Miami, FSU, VT and Clemson still left on the schedule. Four of those games are realistically winnable (sorry Clemson isn’t losing to BC), but BC isn’t going to be heavily favored in any of them. They have to really assert themselves and win right now, take advantage of the Malik Rosier/N’Kosi Perry situation and win in front of what should be a rocking crowd. Friday’s win not only would get BC bowl eligible, but it would really set the tone coming out of the bye week, the tone being that this team is dangerous and can beat anyone.
Finally, Friday’s matchup is the Red Bandana game, which of course holds a special place in the hearts of BC fans and the program. The Eagles have started to build a legacy of big wins when they wear the Red Bandana unis, beating a Top 10 USC in 2014, and most recently running FSU out of the building. A win against a good but not great Miami team, a program BC hasn’t had much success against (sans 1984), would be huge for the program. Oh, and the weather should be in the high 30’s, perfect for a physical football game against a southern football school. The road to 8+ wins has to start with a win against Miami.
Sure Boston College can lose on Friday, and still get 8 wins, but it won’t be easy. If this program wants to take the next step, get to a better bowl and play a solid P5 program in December, they are going to have to beat Miami. Almost all the stars are aligned for BC to grab that win, but it is going to take preparation, and a coaching staff that plays to win, not to “not lose”. Can Steve Addazio do that? He has to, because this game means everything to his team and this program.