CFB: #18 Boston College at Miami FL Print
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Wednesday, 22 November 2006 05:31
NCAAF Headline News

Thanksgiving Night College Football: #18 Boston College at Miami FL

Team Page: Boston College :: Miami FL

85% of Bets Placed on Boston College -3.5 | Matchup | Picks
If Boston College can win its regular-season finale against Miami on Thursday, it will accomplish a few things it hasn't done in more than two decades. With a little help, a victory could be truly historic.

Still in the hunt for the ACC title and a BCS berth, the 18th-ranked Eagles look to register their first 10-win season since 1984 when they face the Hurricanes at the Orange Bowl.

Oddsmakers have made Boston College -3.5 point spread favorites (College Football Odds) for Thursday's game,

the over/under has been set at 37 total points (View CFB Sports Books).

Boston College (9-2, 5-2) defeated then-No. 21 Maryland 38-16 on Saturday. Later that night, Wake Forest lost to Virginia Tech, putting the Eagles in a three-way tie atop the ACC's Atlantic Division with the No. 20 Demon Deacons and Terrapins.

Now, BC needs to defeat Miami and have Wake Forest lose at Maryland on Saturday. Under that scenario, the Eagles would win the Atlantic on a head-to-head tiebreaker with the Terrapins and advance to the Dec. 2 ACC championship game against the Coastal Division champion, No. 16 Georgia Tech.

A title game appearance would come in BC's second season as a member of the ACC, and a conference title would give the Eagles the first BCS berth in their history. For now, though, coach Tom O'Brien is concentrating only on what his team can control.

``I'm only thinking about going to Miami and winning,'' he said.

The Hurricanes (5-6, 2-5) have lost four straight and are in danger of their first sub-.500 season in nine years, but defeating them has never been an easy task for the Eagles.

Miami has won 22 of 25 meetings with Boston College, including all seven since O'Brien became the Eagles' coach.

Thursday is the 22nd anniversary of the last time BC beat Miami, which featured one of college football's most famous endings as the Eagles won on Doug Flutie's Hail Mary touchdown pass to Gerard Phelan as time expired. Coincidentally, Flutie wore No. 22 while at Boston College.

Since that game, the Hurricanes have beaten the Eagles 14 straight times, with 11 of those meetings coming as Big East conference rivals. This is the first matchup between the schools since they left for the ACC last season.

Defeating Miami for the first time in 22 years would also give BC its first 10-win season in 22 years, and just the third in school history. To do so, though, the Eagles will need to contend with a Miami defense allowing only 15.2 points and 69.8 rushing yards per game.

The Hurricanes had not allowed an opponent to rush for 100 yards all season until last Saturday's 17-7 loss at Virginia as the Cavaliers gained 132 on the ground.

``They're a very dangerous team,'' O'Brien said of Miami. ''(Maryland coach) Ralph Friedgen was telling me before the game that's the best defense they've played against all year, the Miami defense.''

Meanwhile, the Eagles' ground game has been picking up steam. Boston College has rushed for 365 total yards to win its last two games, including 124 last Saturday. Junior tailback L.V. Whitworth led the effort against Maryland, gaining 100 yards on 21 carries.

``If we could get to 150 in the rushing game that would be a little better for us,'' O'Brien said, ``but we're going against the best rush defense in the conference Thursday night.''

The Eagles also got plenty from their defense against the Terrapins, as junior linebacker Jolonn Dunbar returned two fumbles for touchdowns within the first 3:08 of the game. Dunbar, though, is questionable for Thursday's contest with an ankle injury.

Miami also has a lot to play for in this matchup. With a win, the Hurricanes would become bowl eligible and likely earn a trip to the Dec. 31 MPC Computers Bowl. A loss would end their season, and give them their worst record since going 3-7 in 1977.

It has been a trying year in Miami, marred by a sideline-clearing brawl with Florida International and the shooting death of defensive lineman Bryan Pata. A funeral and campus-wide memorial were held for Pata last week.

``I'll tell you, right now, we don't have a lot of energy,'' said sophomore quarterback Kirby Freeman, who will make his third career start Thursday. ``A lot of things happened last week. God bless Bryan Pata and his family, but that's over. We're playing with that inside of us now because the sun comes up, the University of Miami goes back to school, and we've got to get successful.''

Freeman went 11-for-18 for 152 yards, a touchdown and an interception last Saturday, and has failed to provide a big lift to a struggling Miami offense. The Hurricanes have been held to fewer than 14 points five times this season, dropping each of those games, and have scored just 30 total points over the last three weeks.

With the losing and controversy surrounding the program, rumors have swirled for weeks that coach Larry Coker will be replaced. Coker is 58-15 in six seasons at Miami.

``All we know is we're playing Boston College and all our coaches are here,'' offensive lineman Derrick Morse said. ``Whatever happens at the end of the season happens, but as far as we know, they're our coaches from here on out and we're playing for them.''

by: Anthony White - theSpread.com - Email Us

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