Saturday, October 14, 2006
The BC Eagles are ranked 25th by the USA Today poll, and are just out of the top 25 in the ESPN poll. With their 22-3 drubbing of #22/#17 Virginia Tech, they will probably be in or near the top 20 in both polls.
The Eagles are in a three-way tie for 2nd place in the ACC Atlantic Division. They're 2-1 within the ACC along with NC State (who beat BC 17-15) and Wake Forest (who BC plays November 4th). The first place team is Clemson, who BC beat in Double OT, but who are also 3-1 in the ACC.
BC will not be able to get into the BCS through an at-large bid. They have to win the ACC Atlantic, then win the ACC title game in order to get to the BCS. I think the Eagles need to get into the BCS or the other large bowl games. They've won 6 Bowls in a row, but none of them have been even remotely prestigious or widely watched.
There are 10 BCS spots available this season, with automatic bids going to the champions of the SEC, Pac-10, Big XII, Big Ten, ACC, and Big East. Boston College will probably not be in the 4 at-large bids unless they run the table and do so impressively.
The #2 ACC team will go to the Chik-fil-A Peach Bowl in Atlanta to face the #5 SEC team. This is a somewhat prestigious bowl game in that the SEC and ACC are both power conferences, and the game is usually against two top teams in the country.
The #3 ACC team will play on New Years Day in the Gator Bowl against a Big XII, Big East, or Notre Dame team. This is a very good bowl to be selected for and winning this game would be the biggest victory for Boston College in quite a long time.
The #4 ACC team will play in the Champs Sports Bowl against a #4 or #5 Big Ten team. Now the bowls start getting less prestigious.
The #5 or the #6 ACC team will play in the Meineke Car Care Bowl against a Big East team. Not much clout in this bowl. The #5 ACC team might also play in the Music City Bowl. The #5 or #6 might also play in the Emerald Bowl in San Francisco. The final ACC bowl bid is in the MPC Computers Bowl in Boise which BC won last year.
Here are the possibilities for Boston College and what they'd have to do in order to get there:
BCS Bowl: win out in the ACC, possibly losing 1 more ACC game, then winning the ACC title game
Peach Bowl: win the ACC Atlantic Division or finish very strong 2nd in Atlantic Division
Gator Bowl: finish 2nd in the ACC Atlantic with a very good record in the ACC and overrall
Champs Sports Bowl: finish a bad 2nd or a good 3rd in the Atlantic Division
Meineke/Music City/Emerald/MPC Computers: finish .500, finish anything but last in the ACC Atlantic
The Eagles are 5-1 (2-1 in the ACC. Next week they go to Tallahassee to play Florida State. FSU is not very good this season with an unspectacular 4-2 record, 2-2 in the ACC. They lost to Clemson and NC State this year. They won't be pushovers, though. BC does struggle on the road, and we're almost never good in the state of Florida. But we can still win this game. If we do, we'd almost ensure a top 5 finish in the ACC Atlantic.
The week after, BC hosts Buffalo. This game is nothing but a mid-season semi-bye week. Buffalo stands little to no chance to win this game. However, winning this game will not improve BC's credibility or prestige in the national spotlight.
BC's non-conference schedule just isn't that hard, neither is their conference schedule. The Eagles scheduled I-AA Maine, Buffalo, Central Michigan, and BYU. Now, the argument could be made that with Va. Tech, FSU, and Miami on the ACC schedule, scheduling softer non-conference teams makes sense. However, people will still see the weak BC schedule and it could cost them a better bowl bid or a few spots in the rankings.
After Buffalo, the Eagles go down south again to play Wake Forest. This is one of the biggest games for BC left to play. For some reason BC struggles mightily against WFU. But on paper, WFU just isn't that impressive. They too have played a weak schedule. They did beat NC State this weekend, but they also lost to Clemson. The next toughest team they played was UConn, nuf said. They're still part of that 3 way tie in 2nd place in the division, and probably will be 3-1 after their game with UNC the week before they host Boston College.
After WFU, the Eagles have three games in a row to end the season which they should win. They host Duke, Maryland, then play Miami on Thankskgiving. Duke and Maryland are abysmal, and probably won't adjust to playing in Chestnut Hill in mid-November. The game down in Miami will be up against a team that might be fighting for a bowl bid if anything. The game will be tough, but BC should win it.
Honestly, BC SHOULD win out, but that doesn't mean they will. They tend to lose games to teams that should be crushed. If BC wins out, they'll finish 7-1 in the ACC.
The best Clemson can do is 7-1, but they'd have to beat #22 Virginia Tech and #13 Georgia Tech to do that. BC has a tie-breaker against them anyway with the head-to-head win.
If BC beats Wake Forest, the best Wake can do in the ACC is 6-2. Even if we lost another ACC game, if we beat Wake, we'll be in great shape because we'll have the tie-breaker in case of a tie.
NC State is a team to worry about. They have the tie-breaker against us so we have to finish with a better record than them. However, they have two tough ACC games coming up. They play Georgia Tech on November 4th, then go to Clemson the next weak. Four of their remaining five ACC games are on the road. They appear as though they'll finish with an ACC record of 5-3 or 6-2. If they finish 5-3, we might not have to worry about the Wolfpack.
If we beat Florida State, which we deifnately are capable of doing, we effectively eliminate them from the divisional title hunt. They'd be 2-3 in the ACC, capable of 5-3 in the conference at best. This game is a huge one. If we don't win it, FSU can easily finish 6-2, which would also be the best we could finish. With the head-to-head loss, we'd lose on the tie breaker.
Maryland might determine who wins the ACC Atlantic. If they upset one of the top teams, they could change the complection of the entire division. They still haven't played an Atlantic Division team so they still have a shot, but they're not nearly good enough. They might steal a win from a team like FSU, NCSU, WFU, or even BC, which would really hurt that team's chances.
Let's just say that BC runs the table, finished 7-1 in the ACC, winning the Atlantic Division. They'd be assured of either a BCS Bowl, the Peach Bowl, or the Gator Bowl. Then they'd play the Coastal Division champs, which will probably be the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. GT is ranked in the top 15 in both polls, but they aren't a monster team. They're very good, but not amazingly great. They did put up a fight against Notre Dame, but their wins against Samford, Troy, Virginia, Virginia Tech, and Maryland aren't exactly massively difficult wins. It would definately be a contest between Georgia Tech and whoever wins the Atlantic Division.
So, to answer the question asked as the title of this post, the answer is yes, but they still have to earn it. They have to run the table or maybe lose one in their remaining ACC schedule. They then have to win the ACC title game in Jacksonville.
Boston College has won 6 straight bowls, but none of those bowls have much notoriety. Even if BC were to lose their bowl game, it'd still be a big achievement to make a top New Years Bowl or a BCS Bowl. The Eagles can definately do it, the question is will they?