Wednesday, October 18, 2006

FSU/Weekend Preview

Ask any college football coach to envision the scenario that he would least want to see his team facing, and "must-win game at Doak Campbell Stadium" would be pretty high on the list.

That is exactly the scenario that BC faces on Saturday against FSU.

The fact is that a loss is not enough. A moral victory is not enough. This is a must-win game for BC. The Eagles can probably afford to lose one more ACC game and still take home the Atlantic Division crown--but it can't be this weekend. A loss in Tallahassee all but dooms our hopes of returning for a third Florida game on Dec. 2.

With that said, this game will come down to coaching. Based on rumors out of Chestnut Hill and what I've seen from the kid in the past, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Matt Ryan will be behind center on Saturday. Moreover, despite the pain that he may be in, he will be at or close to 100% effectiveness. This is not even an issue for me right now. What I am worried about is the mentality of the team and the coaching staff. The win over Virginia Tech was a great one, but the team cannot rest on its laurels; FSU is a MUST-WIN game. Conversely, will a coaching staff that has showed little confidence in its players in the past be encouraged by the victory over the Hokies?? The staff, especially Frank Spaziani, called one of its best and most aggressive gameplans in years against Virginia Tech, and we all saw what happened. This team has the talent to win the ACC, but it needs to know that its coaching staff is behind it.

The return of Diamond Stud will give BC a leg up in the field position battle. Let's hope that Sid Vicious is allowed to remain unpressured as the team's placekicker, however.

You have to think that FSU's "Black Out" jerseys will work to BC's advantage. Those things cannot be comfortable to wear in the midday Florida heat. TOB would be well advised to use some of the same tactics he used at Clemson last year--particularly frequent, wholesale rotations of the offensive line--to work the heat and the opponent's fatigue to BC's advantage.

Coming into the season, I had this marked as BC's toughest game of the year. I still think it will be. I know that BC can move the ball on FSU's defense, but I'm concerned about whether or not TOB and Dana Bible will have the balls to let Matty Ice get the job done. And we all know what FSU's corps of speedy wideouts is capable of doing to one of the ACC's slower defenses. That said, call me crazy, but I have faith. The return of Ryan Glasper has bolsted the secondary, B.J. Raji seems to be himself once again, and this team is riding high and coming off of its best performance of the year. I'm foolish for doing it, but I gotta believe. Prediction: BC 20, Florida State 17.


Overshadowed to many this weekend will be the hockey team's home matchups against Notre Dame (Friday) and Bowling Green (Saturday). Neither of these teams is especially a hockey power and both are teams that BC should roll on paper; yet, as always, there are challenges. The Lafayettes* have seemed to have BC's number on the ice in recent years; Bowling Green, on the other hand, is the team that BC smacked around 9-6 last year (and the game was not that close) but home ice advantage for the Saturday night game will be weak as the beginning of the game overlaps with the FSU football game. At the end of the day, I'm predicting a 3-point weekend for the Eagles: BC 2, Notre Dame 2; BC 5, Bowling Green 1.

* - I've always been torn on whether or not the "French" moniker should apply to all ND sports teams or just the football team. While the football team is the only one that plays the role of the Vichy Government to BC's Panzers, as far as I know, there is still the unpleasant fact that the entire institution was founded by a Frenchman and has had little real connection to Irish or Irish-American society in the past 50 years beyond the nickname. As ND's hockey team always seems up for a good fight with BC, I tried to dub them the "Fightin' French"; but my computer spell checker edits out that phrase as non-existent. So, they are the Lafayettes.


Off to Florida at 8:05 am tomorrow. See you all on Monday.


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