Bettors Give Navy No Chance Against Boston College in Meineke Bowl
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Boston College is tied for the nation’s longest bowl winning streak at six games, but won’t have its coach around as it tries to make it seven straight.
The Eagles take on Navy in the Meineke Bowl in Charlotte, N.C., on Dec. 30 and coach Tom O’Brien won’t be there.
O’Brien, who went 75-45 in 10 seasons at Boston College, accepted the vacant position at ACC rival North Carolina State. The 1971 Naval Academy graduate would have coached against his alma mater in a bowl for the first time.
Frank Spaziani, the Eagles’ defensive coordinator under O’Brien the past eight seasons, will serve as interim head coach against Navy.
“We have a system that’s been in place here and a staff that’s been together for quite a while, so we kind of know how to do things, and we have a way of doing it, it’s called the BC way,” Spaziani said. “We have great kids who have adapted to it. It’ll be different, obviously … but I don’t think it will be anything major.”
Quarterback Matt Ryan was surprised at first by O’Brien’s departure and said O’Brien and the players had an “emotional meeting” on Dec. 8, the day his leaving became official.
“I have a lot of respect for Tom O’Brien. He’s a great man and a great coach,” Ryan said. “That’s the nature of college football and the nature of the business – change is a constant.”
O’Brien’s move marks only the second time in league history that a football coach left one ACC school to lead another in the next season, the league said. Boston College and N.C. State are both in the ACC’s Atlantic Division and play annually.
The Eagles announced Wednesday that Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski will take over next season after he agreed to a five-year contract. Jagodzinski also served as the Eagles’ offensive coordinator from 1997-98.
“Jeff Jagodzinski is a tremendous fit for our football program,” athletic director Gene DeFilippo said. “He has respect for the outstanding tradition of BC football. He understands the mission of Boston College and the importance of academics to our program.”
Boston College (9-3) has another distraction to deal with since kicker Ryan Ohliger has been suspended for the second time this season and will not travel to Charlotte. Steve Aponavicius, a former high school soccer player, will handle the kicking duties.
“He’s not traveling with us and he’s not participating in this game for a violation of team rules,” Spaziani said about Ohliger.
The Eagles’ bowl winning streak is tied with Utah, which beat Tulsa 25-13 in the Armed Forces Bowl on Dec. 23.
Boston College will be trying to slow down Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada and the prolific Navy offense. Kaheaku-Enhada, who began the season as a backup before Brian Hampton tore his left ACL on Oct. 14, will become the fourth different quarterback to start a bowl game for Navy in the last four years.
Kaheaku-Enhada gained 480 yards rushing and scored 10 touchdowns on the ground to match Hampton for the team lead, spearheading the nation’s best rushing attack at more than 327 yards per game. He’ll be counted on even more since leading rusher Adam Ballard broke his right leg in the first quarter of a 26-14 victory over Army on Dec. 2 and won’t be available.
Ballard finished with 792 yards rushing this season and three TDs. Reggie Campbell, who gained 655 yards rushing and scored five times, will likely become the featured back.
The Eagles, who ranked 13th in the country against the run by allowing only 90.1 yards per game, don’t anticipate changing their gameplan.
“You have to play good, sound defense, run to the ball and gang tackle,” BC linebacker Jolonn Dunbar said.
Dunbar anchored that run defense by recording a team-high 78 tackles.
However, Navy’s dependence on the ground game should negate the Eagles’ ability to intercept passes. BC finished with 21 for the season – tied for the third-highest total in the country – and have recorded at least two interceptions in seven straight games.
Navy (9-3) has won its last two bowl games, but is stepping up in the class of its opponent as it gets ready for a fourth straight postseason appearance.
The Midshipmen captured the 2004 Emerald Bowl over New Mexico and the 2005 Poinsettia Bowl over Colorado State. This year, they’ll be looking at an opponent from the powerful ACC for the first time and a perennial bowl team as the Eagles are making their eighth straight postseason appearance.
“I’m excited the team has achieved one of their goals, to have a chance to go to a bowl game, and I’m excited to be going to Charlotte,” Navy coach Paul Johnson said. “It’s a great city and I’m sure the kids will have a great time.”
Johnson doesn’t believe the coaching upheaval will affect the Eagles.
“I’m sure they will be prepared,” he said. “They want to win the game just like anybody else. I don’t think it will have an effect at all.”
Navy went 1-3 this season against opponents headed to a bowl while BC went 6-2 against bowl teams.
The Midshipmen will have to slow down a BC offense guided by first team All-ACC quarterback Ryan, who led the conference in passing with over 245 yards per game. He has 4,564 passing yards in his career, the fifth-highest total in school history.
The Eagles also have a tremendous two-way player in Brian Toal, a linebacker who recorded 28 tackles this year. The 238-pound Toal also appears frequently in the backfield in short-yardage situations, scoring five touchdowns and picking up first downs on seven other occasions.
BC won four straight against Navy under O’Brien from 1999-2002 by an average of nearly 22 points after blowing an 18-point lead in a 32-31 loss to the Midshipmen in 1998.
by: Anthony White – theSpread.com – Email Us
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