Boston is and will forever be defined as a pro sports city. We devour everything that involves the Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics and Bruins. Boston College is the only nearby college or university (sorry UMass) with a Division 1 (FBS) football program and for the reason mentioned above (and many more), the Eagles are always fighting for attention and relevance in their own backyard. That’s what makes this weekend so important for No. 17 BC (7-2 overall, 4-1 in the ACC) as they host No. 2 and unbeaten Clemson (9-0 overall, 6-0 in the ACC) on Saturday night (8, ABC) at Alumni Stadium. For only the third time in school history (2005 vs. Florida State and 2009 vs. FSU), Boston College hosts ESPN’s College Gameday (9 am-12 pm on Saturday morning) on campus. Even if you’re not a huge college football fan (and trust me, you’re missing out if you’re not), Gameday is the gold standard of sports shows this side of Inside the NBA on TNT.
On each Saturday during the college football regular season (from September- December), the Gameday crew travels to schools (and some neutral sites) for whatever they deem to be an important game that weekend. That’s why when the news broke that BC would be seeing Rece Davis, Kirk Herbstreit, Lee Corso, David Pollack, Tom Rinaldi, Maria Taylor and Co., it was a great development for Eagles head coach Steve Addozio, BC athletic director Martin Jarmond and anyone else affiliated with the college. Think of Gameday as a free marketing campaign to potential recruits and students (not to mention a reminder to alums to donate) as it showcases the uniqueness of the given school, along with a brief snapshot of the history of the program and local traditions with a focus on some amazing stories (I’m thinking Welles Crowther and Pete Frates are a must for BC). Finally, they’ll have a guest picker at the end of the show that is relevant to the area and/or institution.
On the field, BC has earned this coveted opportunity as they have won three straight games including a 31-21 victory on Saturday at Virginia Tech and they are a perfect 5-0 at home this season. They have already clinched another bowl game appearance and with a monumental upset of Clemson, they could really put themselves back on the map nationally in terms of building their program into more than just a nice regional team. They are the final obstacle to yet another ACC Atlantic Division title for the Tigers. Sophomore running back AJ Dillon (897 rushing yards, 8 TDs) gets most of the headlines for the Eagles and he’s returned from an ankle sprain that cost him two games in October. BC’s defense has some serious playmakers too including senior defensive end Zach Allen (12.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries), senior defensive end Wyatt Ray (10.5 tackles for loss, 9 sacks) who leads the team with nine sacks and junior cornerback Hamp Cheevers who has five interceptions.
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Other than flawless Alabama, Clemson has become the other top team in the past few years. They have been in the College Football Playoff the last three seasons and even won the championship with a thrilling 35-31 win over the Crimson Tide two years ago. Head coach Dabo Swinney is the anti-Nick Saban (genuine, human, fun to play for) and he recruits as well as anybody in the country. The Tigers have produced tons of NFL talent in the past decade and many think that their current defensive line could be one of the best in college football history. BC opened as a 17-point underdog and that line has already increased to 20 points by Tuesday. However, with a game-time temperature expected in the 30s, you have a feeling that if can BC can hang around, it could get very interesting at the Heights on Saturday night.