We’re one day away from the electric TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl with Boston College (6-6) and #21 Cincinnati (10-3). Kickoff is set for 3 pm ET with a wee bit of rain in Birmingham, Alabama (not thunderstorms though don’t worry). You can go ahead and throw out the records in this one because it’s a whole new ball game. The Eagles are a brand new team with a completely different mindset. Everyone’s on audition from players to coaches, and a nice added incentive with Coach Hafley in attendance. Of course, the Eagles will be without the services of stud running back AJ Dillon. Cincinnati, on the other hand, seems to be quite upset they have to play against the likes of an ACC team just happy to be here, but there’s a sweet $1.3 milly on the line.
Without AJ Dillon, things might be different around these parts. David Bailey is no slouch though, amassing 811 yards on the season. He’ll need the likes of Ben Glines, Pat Garwo, and Travis Levy to give him spells and hold their own as he’s done for Dillon much of the season. It’ll be interesting to see how loose Rich Gunnell has these guys playing. Despite the weather forecast, I can see him wanting to make sure everyone’s having some fun out there, and not be as run-heavy as you might expect. Trickery is definitely on the docket, just take a look at this long snapper to punter connection in practice. Let’s see it all.
Cincinnati is much more efficient on defense and have had great special teams all season long, with five blocked punts. Their only losses have come against Ohio State (42-0), and against Memphis twice in back to back weeks at the end of the season, once without the full services of quarterback Desmond Ridder. Tight end Josiah Deguara is going to be one name to watch. The senior tight end has had 500 yards receiving and 7 touchdowns, and should be a day two draft pick.
Matchup to Watch
The BC linebacking corps vs. the Cincinnati rushing attack. BC has obviously had tackling woes throughout the season, but the full return of Isaiah McDuffie against Pitt in the last game of the season was a godsend. He really helped solidify the unit, and with both he and Max Richardson playing at a high level, the defense starts to look better. Now with even more rest, he’s surely good to go no holds barred. From junior running back Michael Warren to mobile quarterback Desmond Ridder, the Bearcats will need to be contained. Warren has over 1,000 yards and Ridder, while having his own struggles during the season, has had some time to get healthy and be a potent dual threat with over 500 yards rushing the past two seasons.
The Narrative After the Game
No one cares about the final score because a new era in BC football has officially begun. Bring on the Haf-meister and let’s get this ball rolling.
Spread: Cincy -7
Moneyline: Cincy -265/BC +230
Number of times the camera pans to Jeff Hafley: o/u 6.5
Number of times they say “the torch has been passed from Dillon to Bailey”: o/u 1.5
If Daz was still the coach of this team, I would have guaranteed victory because the rule of 7-6. It would have been inevitable. Cincinnati is a little upset that they have to play the last game of the season against lowly BC when they were on the verge of going to a top tier bowl game. At 10 wins, who can blame them. but they’re still a solid well-coached team that won 11 games last year as well, and looking to repeat the feat. BC covers.
Niraj: 31 Cincinnati - 28 Boston College