I’ve been a season ticket holder at Alumni Stadium for 16 years now, and just like any one of you, I’ve seen good games and bad games; fun games and awful games; meaningful wins, near-miss losses, and great performances both for and against BC.
But only rarely does just about everything come together to make the day feel truly golden.
I know that Missouri isn’t Clemson or Alabama, and there are always killjoys among the fanbase who don’t want anyone to be happy unless the team goes 14-0 and wins the national championship, but I don’t really care: thinking about yesterday’s game, it was absolutely a top-5 experience for me in 16 years at Alumni, and it was a moment to cherish and savor if you were there.
Think about every element yesterday’s game had and how rare it is to have all of them on the same day:
Back and forth drama:
It’s always fun to win, but it’s even more fun when it comes with wild swings of emotion. And they don’t get much wilder than yesterday.
After a back-and-forth first half with both teams taking swings at each other, it was BC who dominated the third quarter, with their win probability going up to about 88% when they had the ball up 24-17 and driving for a potential two-touchdown lead.
After Missouri was able to hold the Eagles to a field goal they clawed their way back - touchdown, stop, touchdown - and suddenly BC needed late-game magic to win. Late game magic has been fairly rare at Alumni, but they were able to find it.
Somehow there were three more swings from there- BC’s touchdown drive; Missouri’s tying kick; and then, overtime.
I had a laugh at this after the game at my own expense: you can pretty clearly see BC’s touchdown drive, the defensive stand, the lull during the overtime intermission, and the end of the game:
Games like that are what college football is all about. At the end of every Saturday when you watch highlights from around the country, there are always at least 4 or 5 bonkers games that make you think “stuff like that just doesn’t happen in the pros.” This week, we were one of those games.
A meaningful win:
A game like that would be fun against any team, but make no mistake, this was an important benchmark win for the football program. In his game day preview, Eagle in Atlanta wrote:
[A win] will mean a 4-0 non-conference record, which will likely lead to a strong final record. But a win would also mean that given time, Hafley can prep for a big non-conference game and win with his back-up QB and as a home underdog. Good teams and great coaches win games like this.
And that’s exactly what we saw - a window in to why it looks like we’ve got a really special coach in Jeff Hafley.
Missouri is about as close to a peer out-of-conference program as we could possibly play - in a similar boat as us, on the upswing and trying to climb the ranks of a top conference. Vegas set this game as basically a pick ‘em. This was a great litmus test for the Eagles.
In a year where the ACC has struggled out of conference, any win over an SEC team is going to get a little bit of national attention.
A great finish:
A game can be great even if it ends in victory formation, but there’s something extra special about a walk-off play in football, which happens even more rarely than in other sports.
There are a few big overtime games from 2006 against Clemson and BYU that had that element, and while it wasn’t a “walk off,” Tyler Murphy’s sprint to the end zone against USC to seal it was that “moment” where you knew victory was coming.
Both the OT touchdown and the INT by Brandon Sebastian go on that list:
Outstanding, high-quality plays:
Games can be fun even if they are comically bad sometimes (if BC hadn’t flubbed the 3-0 loss to Wake Forest and managed to score at the end of that game to win 6-3, it would have been memorable in its own, terrible way).
But it’s even better when you get to see great football. And we saw a lot of great football yesterday from both teams.
First of all, the kickers. Damn. 56 yarder to tie it. You’ve got to tip your cap to that - there’s really nothing BC did wrong on that final drive, they did what they needed to do to make Missouri use up what was left of the clock and force them into what seemed like an impossible field goal to tie it, and then they pulled it off.
Connor Lytton had a great day of his own, and let’s not discount how important his last-second field goal at the end of the first half ended up being — his first career field goal.
Dennis Grosel dropped a dime to Zay Flowers for the go-ahead score, and had some great, exciting scrambles to keep drives going. Garwo and Levy both had highlight-reel runs.
There was a lot of good football yesterday, and it was fun to watch even for a neutral.
A fantastic crowd:
What an atmosphere at Alumni Stadium yesterday. That was certainly the biggest crowd since the College GameDay matchup against Clemson, and probably the biggest for a non-Clemson or Notre Dame game in recent memory.
The students, just as they did for week one against Colgate, packed their section and brought the noise, and their energy radiated around the stadium.
The crowd was up and in to it on big plays, and the explosion of joy at the end of the game felt especially meaningful after a year of empty stadiums. I was so happy for the students who got to have that moment of fun after two disrupted school years.
It doesn’t happen every week, but when that place gets loud, it shakes.
What a crowd! What an atmosphere!— BC Football (@BCFootball) September 25, 2021
Alumni Stadium was rocking today!! pic.twitter.com/am3sihQfjN
That extra something:
It’s hard to quantify this, but the most memorable game days have that certain ‘special something’ beyond the actual game.
Of course nothing will top occasions like the most famous Red Bandana game against USC with the Crowther family in the house, or Mark Herzlich’s announcement that he’s cancer-free on College GameDay.
But there definitely was an extra special something about yesterday’s game and atmosphere. It was the first “big game” since the empty-stadium year and, as a result, the first big game with fans since Jeff Hafley has been head coach.
The Colgate game was a party as everyone celebrated being back at BC, but this one was serious business, and it made the atmosphere extra-charged.
And clearly as much as the whole thing seemed a little silly and overblown during the week, the whole “state of Massachusetts” thing clearly was used as a motivator for BC (you could see some energy and trash talk even as the teams were coming out of the tunnel) and was obviously on the coach’s mind postgame.
I know there are some (fair) takes today that BC is making too much of a meal out of that, but honestly, that’s why it surprised me that Drinkwitz would even say something like that even if there was no intent to denigrate the state or the program, which there probably wasn’t. There’s a reason why “coachspeak” is a thing and why 99.999% of coaches every week tell you that the opposing team is the best team on the planet and this is the most important game in the history of football. You give athletes even a sliver of extra motivation or a reason to feel “disrespected” and they’ll find it — so it was just a dumb thing to say.
That whole storyline combined with the general significance of beating an SEC team (again, we know it’s not Auburn or Florida, but still).
I’m part of the streaming generation and at this point don’t really care what channel or platform the game is on as long as I can watch it.
But it definitely adds to the buzz a bit when a home game is on not just national TV, but real national TV - ESPN or ESPN2 instead of the U or ACC Network.
This meant all kinds of people were watching, and so if like me, you’re someone who people know as the BC fanatic in their family or friend group you probably got texts and messages from friends who were watching or saw the end. You don’t get that when the game’s on ACC Network Extra or ESPN+.
Knowing that even more eyeballs were on the game adds to the memorable nature of it.
All things considered, this was absolutely one of the most enjoyable game days I can remember in a long time at BC. Even the weather held out.
The Clemson 2OT game in 2006 and the USC game probably live in their own tier in my memory, but this one goes right in that next category - one I’ll remember the details of for a long, long time.
Days like yesterday are what it’s all about, and why you sit through games like 3-7, bowl-ineligible BC beating 4-6 NC State 14-10 in a game that featured 11 punts in 2011 - not to mention numerous gut-punch losses. Because they make days like Saturday even sweeter.