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Throwback Thursday: Ranking best (and worst) Alumni Stadium home openers

Clemson Tigers v Boston College Eagles Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

We’re now 48 hours away from kickoff between Boston College and Rutgers, on what promises to be a glorious, 80 degree early fall day at Alumni Stadium. What could be better?

BC has a pretty strong track record of starting off the season well in recent years, with the giant caveat of course being that these games are often against bad teams. Rutgers is a bit of a halfsie - BC is favored to win, but Rutgers is no pushover. My hope is that this Saturday’s game doesn’t join my rank of instant classics and favorite nailbiting home openers, but instead is a fairly uneventful 10-14 point win.

With that said, let’s take a look back at home openers since 2006 when I started as a freshman at BC and rank the best (and the worst):

The great:

1: 2006 - Boston College 34, Clemson 33 (2OT)

We write about this game a lot because honestly, it was just that good. My first game as a freshman in the student section gave just about all the drama you could ask for, right on down to a blocked extra point in double overtime making the difference in what was, at the time, considered a two-way close rivalry, with two narrow BC wins after the Eagles joined the ACC. Crazy, right?

2. 2007 - Boston College 38, Wake Forest 28

So I do think the BC internet/twittersphere sometimes goes in to all these seasons with expectations that are a little out of whack. But I do think that if you were a student during this era it’s pretty understandable. We were treated to banger after banger.

The 2007 home opener was nearly as thrilling as 2006 - it was Matt Ryan’s senior year, Coach Jags’ first year, and the Eagles erased an early 14-0 deficit to storm back and show the world the kind of offense BC had for what would be a magical 2007 season.

3. 2019 - Boston College 35, Virginia Tech 28

There were plenty of moments during Steve Addazio’s middling tenure where it really felt like the Eagles might be turning a corner. Where it might be coming together, and it might be beautiful. The 2019 home opener was one of those moments - a wild, back-and-forth affair in which a raucous Alumni Stadium cheered on the Anthony Brown-Zay Flowers connection and great running by AJ Dillon.

BC also forced 3 INTs, which is about as exciting a moment as you can get in the stadium, imo.

I recall this being a pretty big day for me personally, too - it hadn’t been the best summer, and the return of fall and BC football was (like it is for a lot of us) something to really look forward to and mark off as a new beginning.

The Good:

4. 2013 - BC 24, Villanova 14

It probably feels weird to rank a bit of a squeaker over an FCS team this highly but I think folks forget how much of a great feeling it was to turn the page and start a new era after Spaz’s tenure, especially the 2-10 disaster in 2012.

The sun was shining, we were happy to be there, and there was optimism for the future, even if this game itself was just okay.

Addazio won’t go down as a coaching legend or anything, but he stabilized the program after this four year period that saw BC go from regularly being in the top 25 to being just awful. It was great to turn this particular page.

5. 2018 - Boston College 55, UMass 21

Those three wins were the only ‘power’ victories during this tenure so it’s a big dropoff from here, but I’m not gonna lie, it was pretty fun to watch BC absolutely kick the crap out of UMass in the first half on a beautiful Labor Day weekend game. Anthony Brown threw for 279 yards, the Eagles scored early and often, and BC basically moved through UMass in the first half like they were Howard or Wagner rather than a team that a few years earlier was hyping up “The Battle of the Bay State” as a future close rivalry. 55-21 was a flattering final score for UMass after BC emptied the bench in the second half.

6. 2021 - BC 51, Colgate 0

In trying to recapture the optimism of the moment for these articles I try to remember what it felt like at the time rather than how it looks in retrospect. Looking back now, smashing Colgate didn’t really mean much. Jurkovec went down the next week and the Eagles slogged to another .500 season.

But on the day? It felt like the start of a special campaign, with BC looking crisp, and a big crowd on hand to celebrate the return to Alumni after 2020’s empty-stands games.

7. 2020 - BC 24, Texas State 21

I honestly don’t know how to properly rank this one compared to the others just because it was 2020, so we all watched from home while the stands were empty. In some ways those games were honestly tough and sad to watch. In other ways it was a welcome respite. This also happened to be an excellent football game, albeit against an opponent where BC fans were disappointed that a late comeback was needed.

Aaron Boumerhi’s kick walked it off and the cardboard cutout fans went wild.

8. 2009 - BC 54, Northeastern 0

This was another one that honestly I had no right to enjoy as much as I did, but as a local (and a hockey fan) it was pretty hilarious to watch BC demolish Northeastern, who never even crossed midfield at any point during the game. I’m pretty sure BC scored from the first play from scrimmage and it was just a joyful rout from there.

9. 2010 - BC 38, Weber State 20

This was a pretty nondescript game, the first game of the Shinskie Era, but it stands out of course for the amazing return of Mark Herzlich after missing 2009.

The Fine

#10 and #11

2016 - BC 42, Wagner 10
2015 - BC 24, Maine 3

Honestly I don’t remember anything about either one of these games. We won, so that’s cool.

The Bad

12. 2012 - Miami 41, BC 32

Hopes were pretty low going in to 2012 after BC’s 2011 season ended 4-8 and snapped the Eagles’ long streak of consecutive winning seasons.

BC actually made this game pretty interesting and took an early 14-0 lead on a Chase Rettig touchdown pass, but it was all downhill from there.

13. 2017 - Wake Forest 34, BC 10

This was a drubbing at home, coming on the heels of an unconvincing road win to start the year at Northern Illinois. BC had four turnovers which turned in to 21 Wake points and that was all she wrote.

14. 2008 - Georgia Tech 19, BC 16

After the magic of 2007, we were all excited for 2008 and curious about how the Chris Crane era would go after Matt Ryan’s graduation. Unfortunately the first home game of 2008 was a clunker, featuring a safety, two picks, a fumble, and a close loss. It was hard to imagine at this time that BC would recover and make the ACC championship game.

15. 2014 - Pitt 30, BC 20

It’s pretty deflating to start the season against a peer program and not look good and take the loss at home, which is what happened in 2014 and just immediately burst any sort of hope bubble going in to the season. Of course, one week later, we beat USC. So you never can assume anything from the opener!

The Horrifying

16. 2011 - Northwestern 24, BC 17

It’s wholly possible that if I go back and watch this game again it wasn’t as bad as I remember it, but I remember at the time thinking it was one of the most botched and mismanaged fiascos I could remember, the start of BC’s first losing season in many years and another big warning sign that things were going downhill under Spaz.

In the final drive, BC looked to tie the game up, and got in to Northwestern’s red zone with 18 seconds left. They took a false start penalty, which led to an automatic 10 second runoff; BC had to scramble to get off another play, took a sack, and took the L. I recall kicking a cooler in the Shea Field parking lot after this one (RIP).


Here’s hoping, like I said, for one that’s solidly in the ‘good’ category on Saturday. What are some of your favorites? Especially those of you whose time dates back prior to 2006. Let’s hear ‘em!