When people think of college football rivalries, Boston College and Clemson are seldom intertwined. They play in the same Atlantic Division within the same Atlantic Coast Conference, but they aren't each other's primary target. Clemson has a much more ripe and traditional rival with South Carolina, while BC has, well, something more historical with teams like Syracuse, Virginia Tech, and even Notre Dame.
On paper, the average person would say Clemson is the dominant team in this "rivalry." But the Tigers only own a 12-9-2 advantage over the Eagles, and BC is 4-5 since joining the ACC, winning the first three matchups and picking up a single victory during the 2010 season, in the heart of the Frank Spaziani era.
That's one of the reasons this game is so compelling. This is a trophy game, a game being played for the O'Rourke-McFadden Trophy. Since 2008, the MVP of the game celebrates by wearing a leather helmet adorned with BC and Clemson colors. And in the nine iterations of the game, there's only been one "blowout" - in 2009. Last season, the #3-ranked Tigers scored the least amount of points in a victory, needing a Chase Rettig fumble to keep them undefeated ahead of their matchup with Florida State.
There's other dynamics to this game. Clemson fans travel in droves, and it's always assumed they'll sell out their allotment of seats. The two end zones at Alumni Stadium will undoubtedly be filled with orange. BC fans will hear the spelling of the school more times than they'll want. The Tigers come with one of the best and most loyal fan bases in sports, and anyone who expects otherwise is fooling themselves.
Without further ado, let's kick off Clemson week:
Weekly Storylines (Green Day Edition)
When I Come Around. This is a chance for BC to silence a lot of critics and announce they're finally here. We all know what kind of team the Eagles have - a run-first team with the capability of completing a pass every now and then. Steve Addazio and Ryan Day have done a fantastic job of building an offense out of nothing more than chewing gum and a bunch of twine. Don Brown's defense was superb last week after two weeks under the gun. This is now a chance for BC to step up and go from being good to great. Sure, there's a win against USC, but that was a month ago. It's in the rearview mirror. It's time for BC to step up and get another marquee win. That's what great teams do, and a win over a wounded Clemson team will put the Eagles on the path towards the top of the Atlantic Division.
Know Your Enemy. Anyone who is going into this game ultra confident in a BC victory is sorely mistaken. The Eagles aren't going to go into this game and blow Clemson out of the water. If they do, then something went horribly wrong and the Tigers probably "pulled a Clemson." This is a very talented team, and the Atlantic Division (rightfully so) goes 1) Florida State, 2) Clemson. The offense is fast, the wide receivers athletic, and the quarterback depth rich. The defense is big, physical, and nasty. This is a team that's pummeled lesser teams and have only two losses - to Georgia and FSU. If BC is going to win, they'll need to play a perfect game and execute a perfect gameplan.
Wake Me Up When September Ends. In college football, it's said the real season starts in October. If you think about it, the real season for BC started in October. They lost that ACC opener to Pittsburgh, but if you think about, who wouldn't take BC to win that game later in the year? I feel like the UMass, Pittsburgh, and USC games are ancient history. BC is evolving as a team, and it's exciting to watch the new wrinkles. I mentioned the need for new looks each week - we saw a couple of underneath passes to Sherman Alston last week, which was a new wrinkle. But like anything else, once you use that look, you can't go back to it frequently.
I learned this from the NFL. In 2008, Miami broke out the Wildcat offense from out of nowhere and eviscerated the New England Patriots. It didn't take long for teams to figure out how to stop it once they were able to see it, though. So in terms of the BC offense, the pressure exists to find another new wrinkle against Clemson. We saw Alston last week on 3-4 underneath passes; anything more than that, and you're overexposing a look (and, in Alston's case, possibly getting him killed with a mediocre passer giving him more throws).
So far this season, we've seen the read option debut and the over the middle pass to Josh Bordner (UMass), the deficiencies in throwing deep (Pittsburgh), the Sherm Alston triple option reverse and Jonathan Hilliman (USC), Marcus Outlow, and that underneath pass to Alston (NCSU). There really wasn't a whole lot new against CSU. There has to be a wrinkle against Clemson. What is it? We'll find out.
Special Bonus Track - Basket Case. Dookie is still one of my favorite albums of all time. Love this song and needed to work it in here somehow.
Matchup Fun Facts
School: Clemson University
All-Time Record: 691-454-45
Claimed National Championships: 1
Bowl Games: 36
Postseason Record: 18-18
Head Coach: Dabo Swinney
Years at School: seven
Head-to-Head With BC
All-Time Series: Clemson leads, 12-9-2
Streak: Clemson, 3
Last BC Win: 2010 (16-10 at BC)
Last Clemson Win: 2013 (24-14 at Clemson)
First Meeting: 1940 (Clemson 6, BC 3 in the Cotton Bowl)