|Connelly’s Top Ten: Belichick’s Greatest Move||Red Sox Targeting David Price||Notes and Observations Week 11: Defense Leads Battered Patriots to Victory Over Bills 20-13||Connelly’s Top Ten: Patriots Win Despite Cannon’s Assassination Attempt on Brady|
Boston College will finish the season in the Emerald Bowl in San Francisco on Saturday, December 26 (8 PM ET, ESPN) against the Univserity of Southern California Trojans. The Eagles become the first team to make a second appearance in the bowl, having beat Colorado State 35-21 in 2003. BC will make its 11th consecutive bowl appearance and are 8-2 in the span. They lost to Vanderbilt last season in the Music City Bowl, ending an eight game bowl win streak. The Trojans will be making their ninth bowl appearance in a row, though the previous seven were all BCS bowls (six Rose and one Orange), but coming off an 8-4 season, they are well out of the BCS. BC and USC played a home-and-home series in 1987-8 with USC winning the only two games the teams have played. They are scheduled to play another home-and-home in 2013-4.
The Eagles entered this season coming off back-to-back ACC Atlantic Division Titles, but with the loss of both quarterbacks, bookend defensive ends B. J. Raji and Ron Brace and Head Coach Jeff Jagozinski to the NFL, and ACC Defensive Player of the Year Mark Herzlich to cancer for the season, BC looked to be taking a step back. However, the Eagles played impressively and completed a 5-3 regular season in conference play, losing only to fellow ACC Bowl Teams Clemson, Virginia Tech, and North Carolina. They beat another bowling team, Florida State, as well. In non-conference action, the Eagles were 3-1, beating (now defunct) Northeastern, Kent State, and Central Michigan (MAC Champion), and lost to Notre Dame. The Eagles finished within one game of the divisional championship.
USC had high expectations for this season, starting as the preseason #4 team and rising as high as #3 after defeating Ohio State. They then fell to a 5-7 Washington team, which looked like their Pac-10 hiccup as they reeled off four more wins to improve to 6-1. However, the Trojans alternated wins and losses down the stretch, falling to Pac-10 Champion Oregon as well as Stanford, with Heisman candidate Toby Gerhart, and Arizona. The teams come in with matching 8-4 records. USC is coached by Pete Carroll, who coached the Patriots from 1997-9 before coming to Southern Cal in 2001, where he has been ever since, returning the program to national prominence. Coach Carroll is 96-19 in Los Angeles with seven consecutive Pac-10 titles and two National Titles.
A look at the stats would seem to give USC the edge. “RBU”, as USC has been nicknamed lately with all the talent from Reggie Bush to Joe McKnight at the position, lived up to their name with over 170 yards per game on the ground and 385 total. BC rates 15th nationally against the run, allowing just over 100, and has the 23th total defense with 340 yards per game allowed. However, USC’s defense is almost as good, but BC’s offense is only ranked 97 of 120 teams.
(Ranks in Parantheses of 120 Football Championship Subdivision Programs)
|Stat||BC (Rank)||USC (Rank)|
|Rush Offense||140.50 (70)||173.33 (39)|
|Pass Offense||184.42 (94)||211.67 (68)|
|Total Offense||324.94 (97)||385.00 (58)|
|Scoring Offense||25.75 (71)||26.67 (64)|
|Rush Defense||104.42 (15)||131.00 (42)|
|Pass Defense||214.00 (54)||211.83 (52)|
|Total Defense||318.43 (23)||342.83 (42)|
|Scoring Defense||19.42 (18)||20.42 (21)|
But, the game is not played on paper and BC is not intimated no matter the venue or opponent in recent years with wins at Virginia Tech, Clemson, Florida State, and Notre Dame. However, BC is only 2-3 away from home this season, including losses in hostile environments including the aforementioned Clemson, Virginia Tech, and Notre Dame. USC is an identical 4-2 home and away this season.
Six other ACC teams earned bowl berth as well, highlighted by Georgia Tech’s BCS appearnace in the Orange Bowl after winning an exciting ACC Championship over Clemson.