Boston College’s football season once again came to an unceremonious end as their planned bowl game in Annapolis against East Carolina was cancelled due to COVID issues on BC’s roster. Despite being bowl-eligible each of the past 4 years, Boston College has only completed one bowl game in that stretch.
So in lieu of a game this winter, we ask: which of those cancelled bowl seasons for BC do we most wish had been played? Our ranking, from #3 to #1, below.
#3: 2020’s Bowl That Never Was
Jeff Hafley led an impressive first season as head coach that unfortunately could not be topped off with a bowl game. He impressively led Boston College to an above-.500 ACC record in his first year, going 6-5 and becoming bowl-eligible. Expectations were pretty low for Hafley coming in as he took the head coaching reigns over in the middle of an unprecedented pandemic and with players on his roster that were recruited by somebody else and didn’t fit his system. It would’ve been nice to see that team get one more shot at a victory, but all things considered it was pretty reasonable that they recused themselves from the 2020 bowl season.
#2: 2021’s Military Bowl vs East Carolina
This year, Boston College’s program was hit with its first major bout of COVID since the pandemic began in March of 2020. It resulted in over 40 Boston College players being unavailable for their bowl game, resulting in its cancellation.
This would’ve been an interesting match-up. Star QB Phil Jurkovec got plenty of time to heal his injured hand and could have started being a bit more confident in the pocket. WR Zay Flowers announced he was returning to BC for his senior season and would’ve participated in the bowl game. And the generally underachieving team of the year would finally be at mostly full strength against a good, but very beatable, East Carolina squad.
Not to mention BC fans at this point had been starved of a quality postseason appearance for years. Even in the games that have been played, 2019’s Birmingham Bowl against Cincinnati was a miserable blowout and delayed by lightning, while 2017’s Pinstripe Bowl against Iowa was so cold that it may as well have been played on the planet Hoth. You’d have to go all the way back to 2016’s QuickLane Bowl against Maryland to get any sort of pleasurable bowl game experience for a BC fan.
#1: 2018’s SERVPRO First Responders’ Bowl vs Boise State
This is what seemed like Steve Addazio’s best chance to break his 7 win curse. And we actually got to see about 10 minutes of this game!
The 2018 SERVPRO First Responders’ Bowl in Dallas, TX got off to a good start for Boston College. They took a 7-0 lead off of an AJ Dillon rush and the team looked like it was in for a good day, especially after they had ended their regular season 0-3 and lost their spot in the AP top 25. But lightning strikes in the area quickly sent the teams inside, never to emerge again. The game was declared a “no contest” as the lightning was not going to let up that day and the logistics of holding the bowl one day later apparently were not possible.
This game is one that we wished happened the most because of how good the team was and how much they deserved that 8th win. AJ Dillon was in his final year as a BC Eagle and was crushing defenses so bad that the rest of the ACC just started stacking the box on most plays. The offensive line was a big part of that run game success too. QB Anthony Brown was showing a lot of improvement in his 2nd year as the Eagles’ starter, building plenty of chemistry with star WR Kobay White. And the BC defense, while not terrific, had kept 6 teams under 30 points in the final 7 weeks. The Eagles were ranked in the AP poll for 4 total weeks that season and hosted ESPN’s College Gameday when #2 Clemson came to town. It was one of the best BC football teams of the last decade.
Those 10 minutes in Dallas also introduced us to the world of bowl cancellations way before the era of COVID. It was the first FBS bowl that was cancelled since 1941’s Hawaii Bowl was cancelled in the wake of Pearl Harbor. Talk about historic. That’s why this game will forever be known as the Like It Never Even Happened Bowl.
As someone who was in the Cotton Bowl on Dallas that day and got rained on, I can tell you that this is one of my worst Boston College football memories. Flying in on Christmas Day, hardly seeing the great city of Dallas, and then getting stuck on the tarmac for several hours while we waited for the storm to clear. But at least it’s a good story!