When the Boise State football team faces the Boston College Eagles in the First Responder Bowl on Dec. 26, it will be the Broncos’ fifth game against a member of the ACC — the first was the 2005 MPC Computers Bowl against ... Boston College.
This is the fifth bowl for Boston College (7-5) in the last six seasons, entering the game on a three-game losing streak. Continued success is something that caught Boise State coach Bryan Harsin’s eye. The Eagles were ranked in the AP Top 25 four weeks this season, their first appearances in the poll since 2008.
“I know from some of the TV games we’ve had a chance to see ... they’ve had a very good year, good football team, tough team. From what I know about their program over the years, that shows up,” Harsin said.
So, what sort of a challenge will the Eagles present Boise State as the Broncos seek their 13th bowl win? Let’s take a look.
THE OFFENSE: The Eagles have been a run-heavy team in recent years — Andre Williams rushed for 2,177 yards in 2013 — and this year is no different with bowling ball sophomore AJ Dillon (6-foot, 240 pounds). Dillon has 1,108 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns in 10 games. Sophomore QB Anthony Brown has 20 TDs to nine INTs, completing 55.4 percent of his passes for 2,121 yards. Sophomore Kobay White is the team’s top receiver with 33 catches for 526 yards. The Eagles are 115th nationally with a 33.9 percent conversion percentage on third down. They are 42nd nationally in scoring offense (32.0 points per game).
THE DEFENSE: It has been feast or famine for BC this season — the Eagles are tied for No. 1 in the nation with 18 interceptions but are 96th nationally in pass defense, allowing 247.9 yards per game. Senior defensive end Zach Allen (6-5, 285) is a first-round talent, leading the team with 15 tackles for loss and also contributing 6.5 sacks. Fellow senior DE Wyatt Ray has nine sacks, but none in the last four games. Junior defensive back Hamp Cheevers is tied for the national lead with seven interceptions. The Eagles are 54th in scoring defense (25.7 ppg).
THE SPECIAL TEAMS: Tied for fifth nationally with five blocked kicks (three placekicks, two punts), the Eagles also have had four of their own kicks blocked. Senior Michael Walker is No. 7 in the nation in punt-return average (13.7). Opponents have scored four touchdowns against the Eagles on punts, three via blocks and one on a traditional return.
THE COACH: Steve Addazio is in his sixth season leading Boston College, and has taken the team to five bowl games. They are 1-3 in their previous bowls under him. If they lose to Boise State, the Eagles will finish 7-6 for the fifth time under Addazio. The former head coach at Temple (2011-12), he also was an offensive assistant under Urban Meyer at Florida from 2005 to 2010. He also went viral for his promo video in which he looked out onto the practice field and said: “What’s better than this? Guys being dudes.”
THE HISTORY: This will be the Eagles’ 27th bowl, dating back to their very first, the 1940 Cotton Bowl. The First Responder Bowl will be their third at the historic Cotton Bowl, also having appeared in the 1985 Cotton Bowl with Doug Flutie at quarterback. Boston College won eight straight bowls from 2000 to 2007, but is 1-6 since. Some notable current players in the NFL include Falcons QB Matt Ryan, Panthers LB Luke Kuechly and Broncos DB Justin Simmons.
THE UNIQUE: Boston College is one of two FBS programs at a Catholic school, Notre Dame being the other. The Eagles’ fight song, “For Boston,” was covered by the punk band Dropkick Murphys and that version is often played now at home games. The Eagles were independent until joining the Big East in 1991. Mike Rawlings, the mayor of Dallas, played defensive end for Boston College from 1972 to 1975.
First Responder Bowl
Who: Boise State (10-3) vs. Boston College (7-5)
When: 11:30 a.m. MT Wednesday, Dec. 26
Where: Cotton Bowl, Dallas (92,100)
TV: ESPN (Lowell Galindo, Ahmad Brooks, Kris Budden)
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
Who: BYU (6-6) vs. Western Michigan (7-5)
When: 2 p.m. Friday, Dec. 21
Where: Albertsons Stadium, Boise (36,387)
TV: ESPN (Roy Philpott, Tom Ramsey, Alex Corddry)