BC Week Is Here!

Good ‘ol Boston College week.  This one is personal. I’ve got several family members and good friends who call “the Heights” home. Also, growing up less than an hour away from the program that Doug Flutie built, BC was my adopted college football team as Rhode Island had zero to call its own.  I’ve been banging the BC-NU similarities for years which usually irks some of the folks who want to reign supreme on the academia card, but their is no denying how many football program similarities there are.  Thanks to our women’s lacrosse team taking care of BC on Saturday 11-8 in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament, I figured now was the time to capitalize on BC week. Let’s take a look, shall we?

I truly believe BC is Northwestern’s kindred football mirror in New England.  Both schools are in sophisticated near suburbs of a major metropolis.  Both football programs are always trying to scream for market share as they respectively fall somewhere around sixth in their respective markets behind iconic pro teams.  Both are proud, private academic-minded schools with smaller than bigtime football stadiums and despite continual program arrow upward trends, both struggle mightily to put butts in seats.  BC and NU were 65th and 68th respectively in 2010 football attendance with the Eagles (38,369) besting NU by less than 2,000 fans per game (36,449) (for what its worth, Stanford, who went to the Orange Bowl, was 62nd with 40,042 in 2010. Heck ,we even both have an ignominious gambling scandal to our respective athletic programs’ name both in the mid 1990s. But let’s not go there.

The Eagles also have a cut-from-the-mold football coach who is relatively new and goes by a four letter nickname. Coach Frank Spaziani is known in Beantown as simply Coach Spaz and some may say our man Coach Fitz can be quite a spaz on the sidelines although he is mellowing exponentially each year.  Each school is relatively the same size with NU around 8,000 undergrads and BC add a tad under 10,000.  Student support, when you consider percentages of overall student body attending, is both pretty good, although I give the nod to the famed Superfans in yellow t-shirts. 

You can imagine this game means a lot to me for personal reasons. I spent every summer visiting family and friends in the Cape Cod area, and this came will be the only time they think about NU until next year.  This one win gives me street cred for ‘ol NU for an entire friend and family base for a full year.  BC Eagles fans are a few years ahead of NU fans in the consistency department. While NU fans are tallying bowl appearances since 1995 as our respectability card, BC fans point to the nation’s 4th best bowl winning streak (8 games 2000-2007) as their booyah!

As a kid growing up in BC country you actually felt like it was good training ground for NU.  The Eagles were pretty miserable most of my childhood until that one out of nowhere season when an undersized Natick legend, Doug Flutie, but the Eagles on the map and then went on to win the 1985 Heisman thanks to the Hail Mary of Hail Marys over Bernie Kosar and Miami. It was one of the top three “where were you when…?” childhood moments behind only the Miracle on Ice and Billy Buckner’s grounder a year later. Flutie’s impact was so phenomenal on BC that the school instantly went from solid back-up school to impossible to get in to in what was literally termed the “Flutie phenomenon”.  It put BC on another academic plane – one they are still enjoying a lift from today.  However, the Eagles haven’t made any BCS noise and thus, still battle for headlines in their own backyard. And, Northwestern has one huge advantage – the cultural phenomenon of football in the Midwest. 

Tailgating on the East Coast is something they don’t know how to do so well.  Sure, the Ivy Leagues have the history of actually being the table setters in this area, however it is of the tea and crumpets variety – you know, the same stereotype we have at Northwestern.  BC does enjoy Alumni Stadium which sits smack dab in the middle of campus and is the epicenter of student activity on a gameday weekend.  They also enjoy one of the most wink-wink campus legends out there. There is a signal BC Eagle bronzed in the center of campus. As any BC guy will tell you, legend has it when a virgin graduates from the Chestnut Hill campus the Eagle flies away.

A legend no college dad wants to know about!


You’ve put up with enough of the personal angle here, so let’s start talking shop. My NU-BC football memories are the tale of polar opposites. My sophomore year of college I went to the ‘Cats game at Alumni Stadium. I actually sat with the players’ families since I had some friends on the team who got me tickets. Boy was that a mistake. It was the worst drubbing I ever witnessed in person in all of my NU years. We lost 49-0 and it wasn’t until late in the game when I realized BC had yet to punt. We didn’t get the ball past midfield. I’m fairly certain first year head coach Gary Barnett had to wonder what the hell he had done by taking the job at that point. The worst part was we had BC back on the schedule in 1993.

This is where it gets good. Boston College game to then Dyche Stadium with a pretty loaded team.  We were huge underdogs and BC was ranked in the Top 25. It was a battle from the start. The ‘Cats hung tough but BC scored late in the fourth in what seemed like it would be the dagger. However, on the ensuing kickoff Eric Scott bolted some 80+ yards to set-up a last second game-winning score that set off the most celebrated win in my undergrad years.  Keep in mind, this was the same BC team that would venture to South Bend the week after the famous ND-FSU Charlie Ward game when ND beat the #1 team to become #1 team and the Eagles would win in the second most famous BC game in my lifetime.  I actually turned down tickets to go to that game with my BC buds, and I will tell you it was the best played game by both teams that I’ve ever seen.  I put it #1 on my alltime favorite college football games in terms of quality of play.  I also still remember the T-shirt honoring the Eagles game-winning FG -(front) “God is Good” , (back) “…so was Gordon’s kick!”. 

Now, much like when we face TTFSB in a couple of years, we resume play. I’ve had 18 years of bragging rights and they are back on the line in week one of 2011. I like this match-up though.  BC was pretty darn terrible on offense last year ranking in the bottom quarter in both rushing attacks and passing attacks. However, they have a pair of stellar RBs who suffered mightily as opponents stuffed the box as BC’s passing game was so challenged as freshman QB Chase Rettig (100/195, 1238 yds, 9 INT, 4 TD) suffered through a long learning curve in year one. The Eagles promptly went out and nabbed Kevin Rogers to be their new OC in hopes of turning around the dismal offense.

 The Eagles return eight starters on offense and seven on defense and,  like us, went 7-6 and lost their bowl game (20-13 to Nevada in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl).  BC boasted the #1 rush defense in America though, and they have a Fitz-like All-American LB, Luke Kuelchy, who is looking to make the All-American list yet again in his junior season.

Like Fitz, Spaz is a defensive guy at heart. However, the NU hurry-up spread is something that should challenge BC mightily in week one.  Their offense is hardly explosive in the air, but you should be concerned that our “D” will be able to stop Montel Harris and a usually solid OL – ESPECIALLY after they watch tape of late 2010 games. 

We’ll be breaking down BC all week, talking to BC blogs, breaking down tidbits here and there and touting how to go about putting some purple in Alumni this Labor Day weekend.  Don’t worry, we’ll have other news and tidbits as well, but now would be a great time to submit that N Flag if you live along the 128 region.

  • Willie Alum

    Anyone have an idea when we will be able to buy single game tickets for BC?

  • LTP, small point, Bernie Kosar was the Miami QB who led the Cains to a 70-yard drive to win the game, just before the “Hail Mary of Hail Marys”. Looking forward to this one on Labor Day weekend. My best friend in HS was a senior co-captain on Flute’s first varsity year at the Heights

  • Go Cats!

    Best part about the ’93 game (perhaps the best part of the whole miserable season) was the 2 point conversion to win the game with under 5 minutes left when we were down 20-21. At a time when a tie would’ve been seen as a “victory” Gary went for 2. A glimmer of things to come.

  • Lake The Posts

    @Lord Willie -thanks and corrected! Kosar, Testarverde, Toretta – they all kind of blend together! @Go ‘Cats – great memory! I was trying to find a game recap from ’93 but as NU’s history didn’t begin until 1995 it is difficult!

  • NUmanager

    As a Browns fan, I beg do disagree that Kosar and Testaverde blend together in any way shape or form!

  • NU68

    BC Game … Labor Day weekend … Good? Bad? Meaningless?

  • Steve

    my friends and i are all planning a trip to boston for this game.

  • azbc

    BC fan here…I’ve read your blog from time to time for a couple years usually prompted by an NU buddy and because– for all the reasons you point out– BC fans can really relate to the Northwestern perspective. Great post and I look forward to reading more about the game. I agree the two schools have much in common and I hope that our teams appear frequently on each others’ schedules; we certainly shouldn’t wait another 18 years for a home-and-home.

    Random points: interesting you mention David Gordon’s kick against ND, as he missed a 40-yarder with just more than a minute left that would’ve won the 1993 game against Northwestern…looking forward to watching your offense match up with our D…Kuechly’s a junior, and I wouldn’t say we lost a slew of starters– in fact, I thought NU and BC were both among the nation’s leaders in returning starters…BC replaced its offensive coordinator after last season for obvious reasons, and there’s hope that the new guy (Kevin Rodgers, former OC at TTFSB (ha!) and Syracuse) can turn things around…hoping to get to Chicago next year for the game.

    Thanks for the post and looking forward to the next few.

  • Just a quick edit- Kuechly will be a junior this coming season.

    Great read.

  • Great summary, and balanced.
    Looking forward to two schools who play good football, graduate their players, and put good people into the workforce.
    Luke Kuechly however, will only be a junior (thank God) next year.
    I like BC’s defense, but am worried our offense will again be offensive. We are collectively hoping Kevin rogers, our new OC, will invigorate an anemic offense and give our defense a breather.
    Fitz looks like he is building a program, we are constantly missing out on kids who would have chosen BC over N/W before he got there. I’m sure, ND, Stanford, and Michigan are feeling it too.
    Good luck!

  • Lake The Posts

    @BC folks -indeed I stand corrected. Eight returning starters on offense and seven on defense plus both kicker/punter back. Thanks for the correction on Kuechly, which unfortunately means we get him next year in Evanston as well unless he (hopefully) leaves early for the NFL. I’m curious as to your thoughts on Kevin Rogers…

  • NUwildcatLA

    Just ordered my BC game tix as a season ticket holder. I think there will be a big NU contingent, actually…hearing lots of people plan to travel over.

  • from a BC fan, I thought this was a tremendously fair evaluation and a great, fun read. Keep up the good work!

  • I would say most BC fans are excited about Kevin Rogers for 2 reasons:

    1) The offense actually outplayed the defense during a couple of the scrimmages throughout the spring. Can’t remember the last time that happened (even Matt Ryan had some tough spring outings).

    2) Kevin Rogers isn’t Gary Tranquill.

  • Taylor

    Great blog! It does some what depress me reading this blog and thinking of football when football is over 3 months away! I cant wait for a great year for the Cats led by our star QB Dan Persa! GO NU!

  • BC53

    Hey there LTP, this was a great blog post! I am a recent BC graduate Football player and grew up in the Chicago area real close to NW. I absolutely love that NW and BC are playing each other now and its unfortunate that we never played each other while I was playing. Would’ve been a great chance to play near home and two great academic and athletic schools. Unfortunately for us Chicago boys at BC, TTFSB was the closest we got to playing at home. I will be very excited for the game next year in Evanston! I really liked everything in your post and proud that some BC guys have come over here and commented. Our schools are way too similar not to have more home and home series and definitely something we should all be pushing our AD’s to continue. I thought your synopsis of our team was very spot on. Our offense struggled last year but with some young talent coming back it will be better (I hope) and the defense is going to be very strong again. Can’t say enough about the kid Luke (boywonder) Kuechly, but the strength of our defense is all 11 working together. Will be interesting to see how NW attacks us, as the spread running attack that is similar to Duke we seem to shut down. Short passes wear us down but we tend to buckle down come the redzone when its harder to spread us. Very excited about our fans sharing this game and looking forward to two years of great games! GO BC!

  • Lake The Posts

    @BC53 and all fans – I love it when former players respect what we’re talking about here as that is the ultimate compliment. At all BC fans – man, this has been a rewarding week as you’ve been great to work with and I’ve received a ton of positive feedback. We’re psyched to have you on the schedule.

  • Taylor

    I am excited to have BC on the schedule as well. The BC fans seem so very kind and this game should be a great matchup. Also excited that NU may have a fair amount of fans in Chesnut Hill considering how poor the away game followings usually are. I say this because 1. It is the first game of the upcoming football season (a season with a TON of expectations in my opinion by Cat fans) and 2. I watched the NIT game between Northwestern and BC and to my surprise, there was a good bit of purple in the stands.

  • D Paul

    Dan Persa is built in the mold of Doug Flutie. His game against Iowa last year was heart warming. He tore his Achilles as he drove for the winning touchdown. He has “heart and soul”. BC has problems on the emotional end.

  • Pingback: Know more about Buy k2()