In case you missed the seedings and explanation of the bracket, they can be found by clicking here.
1) Tyler Murphy's 66-yard touchdown run caps win over USC
8) BC coughs up fourth quarter lead to FSU, loses to #1-ranked Seminoles.
Every March, when I watch the national tournament, there's always one bracket that's just a group of death, while another region turns out to be a creampuff. Granted football season just ended, but I have a feeling this one's going to be tough to call at some point.
As a result, we come out of the gates strong with the first matchup of the bracket between two huge moments during the 2014 season. I'll start with the underdog: the Florida State game.
I know I was out of the country for it, but most prognostications had FSU on a little bit of an upset alert. BC is one of those teams trending up for big, emotional games. We didn't really think BC would beat Florida State, but we hoped, and in a way even expected they wouldn't get blown out after hanging tough last season.
When FSU scored late in the fourth and beat BC, I don't think we were all that upset. We hoped they could win, and maybe towards the end of the game we even expected it. We never really believed it in our heart of hearts, though. For Cinderella, the clock simply struck midnight. The loss wasn't that catastrophic. There were much worse defeats to be had.
Compare that to Murphy's touchdown run. That was the moment where defeating the #9-ranked Trojans went from being a possibility to believable to a reality. The run was a thing of beauty, and in all my years of going to games at Alumni Stadium, I never really heard it get that loud. The stadium erupted on national television, and the outpouring of emotion led fans to jump railings and charge the field after the win.
If you look back on this year as the year where BC fans began truly caring about football again, then Murphy's run was the moment where it really broke out and became something for us to hold once more. As a result, the loss to FSU ends up like the game—it might be able to hang tough, but ultimately its opponent is too powerful to overcome. Winner: Murphy's Run.
2) Sherm Alston's reverse option touchdown sprint.
7) Boston College heads to Pinstripe Bowl, loses to Penn State.
Also from the USC game, Alston's run really stands out as the breakout moment for this past season's offense. It was a reverse option fly sweep play we'd never seen before. The triple option broke out to the right, but the pitch flipped up in the air to Alston in stride. He took off around the corner and created a race for the pylon he ended up winning at the end of the first half. It was completely amazeballs to watch in the sense that, yes, I just used the word amazeballs.
But Alston's run didn't age gracefully over the course of the season. It's different from Murphy's run in that regard. Murphy's run forever stands as an iconic moment in BC football. Alston's run was iconic, but it ended up overshadowed by the Murphy run. Alston broke out with that play, but he was never the focal point of the offense moving forward. It has a legacy, but it runs into a game that was an instant classic for any number of reasons.
The Pinstripe Bowl is like the team that wins its way into the tournament and is pistol hot when it hits the bracket. The buildup to the game was unlike anything Boston College did in the past; Brad Bates and Steve Addazio generated more buzz than any other postseason bowl game ever before. It sold out in 36 hours, and Eagles fans showed up in solid numbers to support their team. The game itself didn't disappoint, with BC taking a 21-7 lead before blowing it and losing in overtime. Win or lose, elation or disappointment, it was extremely memorable.
The Pinstripe Bowl drops to the 7th seed because it hasn't had a chance to really mature. This is kind of like one of those nightmare matchups for the #2 seed. It's been great all year, but it runs into something with the ability to overtake it. Alston's run matured into a definitive moment of the season, but the Pinstripe Bowl, albeit new, is one of those things leaving an indelible mark on the year, four days before 2015. It doesn't diminish what Alston's run accomplished, but, like Duke, it runs into something that won't be denied a first round victory. Winner: Pinstripe Bowl
3) Eagles become bowl eligible with win over Virginia Tech.
6) Colorado State rallies to beat BC.
The Virginia Tech game provided us with some of those season-defining thrills: Myles Willis broke off a 68 yard touchdown run and Tyler Murphy ran 57 yards as BC tried to go for it on fourth down. It had huge performances: Alachi Moore's two sacks and Connor Wujciak's tackling prowess. It was one of those times where BC won a hard-fought game and defeated a team fast becoming one of its ACC rivals. If not for the USC game, this might have ranked as the game of the year with several moments overtaking the top two seeds.
The Colorado State game, meanwhile, makes this bracket for totally different reasons. When we look back on the 2014 season, it was really the first time we watched BC find a way to lose. The Rams imposed their will on third down, and the Eagles failed to make Garrett Grayson miserable. The second half was a mess, and BC's playcalling went super conservative on both sides of the ball (not just the offense!). We started to realize where certain players are deficient or limited. That impacted the way we viewed the rest of the season.
Look, the VT win was great, and becoming bowl eligible was fantastic for this team. Arguably no game, however, was more of a reality check than Colorado State. It became one of the largest influences on the rest of the season. We talked about Colorado State and the loss right up until the bitter end. It wasn't the loss that cost the season, but it became the foundation for the drawbacks to watching this team this year. Winner: Colorado State's comeback
4) Myles Willis opens up Syracuse game with kick return for a touchdown.
5) Eagles outdraw UMass at Gillette and Crush Minutemen, 30-7.
In my opinion, no play is more exciting during a football game than a return for a touchdown. When the sea of blockers parts and the return man sees nothing but green field in front of him, the race for the end zone is one of the most enthralling things to watch. It's awesome. The crowd reaction is one of those things you just have to be there for.
Opening up the entire game with that type of play sets a tone that this game is not going to be lost. I feel that Willis' run back served notice that BC was not losing to Syracuse this year. The rest of the game wasn't great, but that run told us all they weren't losing. #OrangeEagle points for everyone!
But that UMass game was something worth rewinding. It built up over two years to it thanks to the war of words between the UMass faithful and, well, me. The tailgating was great. Marketed by both schools towards the larger of the two fan bases, Boston College took over Gillette and created something very special for that day. The Eagles went out and demolished the Minutemen. It shut up virtually every single one of those knuckledraggers who came here to tell me how much they hated me.
The Syracuse game stood alone at the end of the season. The UMass game stood alone at the beginning of the season. Neither game aged well. Both meant something different to multitudes of people. To the people it meant nothing to - it meant REALLY NOTHING.
On the field, the Syracuse game stood as something of a capstone to the season, the last step towards the Pinstripe Bowl and the game that really sealed the deal. The UMass game was the coming out party, the first look, the first time we saw read option, triple option, and Tyler Murphy run, run, run.
Since I'm picking, though, I'm going with the UMass game. We haven't heard anything from those ding dongs in a while, have we? Winner: UMass game.
1) Tyler Murphy's Run vs. USC
5) The UMass Game
There's a lot less analysis to do of the individual moments here and a lot more to do with the moments stacking up against one another.
There is one key point to take away with what I said about the Murphy run vs. USC: it created a buzz and explosion of Boston College football unlike anything we saw in a long, long time. We watched Alumni Stadium turn euphoric. It created a moment we've replayed over and over this season, and we turn back to that game as one of the biggest games of the year.
We do not do that with the UMass game. The trip to Gillette was great, but it feels like a lifetime ago. It doesn't really feel like it's as big of a moment as the Murphy run. Consider how we discuss the two games: USC feels like it happened yesterday, but UMass was easily forgettable after it ended.
In the tournament, you know how the #1 seed sometimes struggles with a matchup but ultimately wins because the other team falls short? More often than not, they go out in the next round and cream their opponent. So like the UMass defense, Murphy runs over it in the second round. Winner: Murphy's Run
6) Colorado State rallies to beat BC
7) Pinstripe Bowl
After scoring first round upsets, two underrated games meet each other in the second round.
This is a tough one because the legacy factor. Murphy's run makes it to the division championship because of its impact against its legacy. It was huge at the time, and it's legendary status grew as the season progressed.
In this matchup, that same attitude can be taken in regards to the Colorado State loss. Losing that game hurt pretty bad at the time, and as days wore on, its legacy actually grew. It just kind of organically became this festering feeling about the season—we hated that loss but it kept rearing its ugly head every time BC did something negatively. It was the loss on the season that just didn't go away.
The Pinstripe Bowl will have that type of legacy, but it will be in 2015. It didn't have the time to grow that legacy this season, so its impact will need to trump anything Colorado State can throw at us. The fact that it has such a rich legacy on the program already is something worth mentioning since it's only a week or so old.
It was the highest profile game for BC in quite some time, very well attended, and very well marketed. Despite the loss, going to New York City remains one of the highlights of the Boston College season. We saw how well Boston College used social media to tell us what the team was doing, and the game itself was clutch-pounding, heart-stopping action. The end of the game is what it is, but we can't deny this—it was pretty exciting (even if it ended negatively).
The Colorado State loss hurt pretty bad all season, but the Pinstripe Bowl's immediate impact cant be denied. That it became so important to the program so quickly illustrates how much it will hang over the program in 2015. Winner: Pinstripe Bowl
1) Tyler Murphy's USC Run
7) Pinstripe Bowl
As time marches on, the Pinstripe Bowl will have a much different legacy. As huge as it became, we're still unsure of its final resting spot. We're not sure if it will reside as a turning point, a catalyst for the next step in Boston College football or if it's the high point of the Steve Addazio era. That's what will be determined in 2015. While it casts a huge shadow over 2014, the shadow is more of an unknown that needs to be answered.
That's where it differs in its legacy from Murphy's run against USC. We already know what Murphy's run is in regards to the annals of BC football. We know what it means. Every time we see it, we know what we felt and what we'll feel. We know it will stand with Matt Ryan's touchdown pass against Virginia Tech, Hail Flutie, and The Kick against Notre Dame.
We know what the game meant, with the red bandana, the game ball presentation to the Crowthers, on national television, with a swaggering #9-ranked USC team in the other tunnel. It's THE lasting image of the 2014 football season, regardless what else happened.
There's no question: the Pinstripe Bowl had a great run in this bracket, but Tyler Murphy moves onto the Final Four. Winner: Murphy's Run