The 2015 Boston College football schedule has been released -- finally. Let's take a closer look.
First, some numbers and facts on this coming season's slate:
– 7 home games
– 1 neutral site game
– 4 road games
– 8 games played in Massachusetts
– 1 Friday night game
– 3 teams ranked in the final 2014 AP Poll: Florida State (T5th), Clemson (15th) and Louisville (24th)
– 5 teams that won 9 or more games a year ago -- Florida State (13-1), Northern Illinois (11-3), Duke (9-4), Clemson (10-3) and Louisville (9-4)
– 8 (of 10) opponents went to bowl games in 2014. Hi, Syracuse and Wake Forest!
– 2 FCS opponents: Maine and Howard
Boston College's farthest road game is at Clemson, followed by Louisville, Durham, Syracuse and Fenway Park vs. Notre Dame. For the second straight season, BC won't leave the Commonwealth until the calendar turns to October (October 3 at Duke). That's good news for a team looking to replace a quarterback and some key players on defense. However, it's most unwelcome news for for season ticket holders when 4/7 of the home schedule is complete before the month of October, with two FCS games and a Friday night home tilt.
Unlike the past two seasons, there's only one OPEN date this season. Unfortunately for BC, that comes 10 weeks into the season—the longest opening stretch in the ACC. The next closest is Syracuse, which has 8 straight games to start the season. The good news, if there is any, is that no team has an open date the week before facing the Eagles.
Over the past few years, BC's had a middle-of-the-road non-conference schedule in terms of degree of difficulty. This year that's not the case. Notre Dame finished last year 8-5 and Northern Illinois was 11-3. But those two teams are paired with a couple of sub-.500 FCS opponents in Maine and Howard. Yeesh.
Year 3 should be pretty telling as to the direction this team is headed under Steve Addazio, so a weaker non-conference schedule isn't the worst idea. But the bowl eligibility bar has been raised, and, assuming a pair of wins over Maine and Howard, BC will need to win five of its final 10 games to reach a bowl game for the third straight year. There are plenty of swing games where that appears doable, but the margin of error is that much smaller when only 6-of-11 games will likely count towards bowl eligibility.
A lot of season ticket holders are upset about the Friday night home game against Florida State. When the conference re-upped its TV media rights deal with ESPN, they got a standing commitment from BC and Syracuse to host one Friday night home game a year (with a third played on Black Friday). The reasoning was that the conference wanted to protect high school football in the South, so BC and Syracuse, as the conference's two northernmost outputs, made the most sense.
Last season, the ACC had three Friday night games: Pittsburgh at Boston College, Louisville at Syracuse and Virginia at Virginia Tech on Black Friday. This season, the number of Friday night games has ballooned to four—Florida State at Boston College, Louisville at Wake Forest, Miami at Pittsburgh (Black Friday), N.C. State at Virginia Tech—five with Virginia hosting Boise State on Friday night. Combined with Thursday night games and the Labor Day Monday game, 13 of the 14 ACC programs will play on a non-Saturday date in 2015. The lone exception? Syracuse, which, weird.
Speaking of that Friday night game, I'm very surprised that the conference didn't give BC its Friday night home game on the second weekend of the year for the third consecutive year. That Friday just so happens to be September 11. I thought for sure that BC would land that date against either N.C. State or Wake Forest. As it turned out, Wake Forest opens up ACC play in week 2—just at Syracuse, not BC.