Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Is BC overrated?

Simple question. Is Boston College football overrated? Despite our lofty rankings, most run-of-the-mill college football fans in the nation would say yes. But is the harsh criticsm it valid? People say "who has BC even played?" After all, the Eagles have five victories over teams with a Sagarin ranking of 70th or worse and haven't played a quality opponent since mid-September. Even Frank Deford had a commentary on NPR this morning concerning the BCS national championship where he said: "Boston College in the national championship? A New England college football team? That’s a German perfume." No respect.

On the contrary, the computers love Boston College at this point in the season, giving us a #1 ranking overall before the human votes come in. BC has arguably benefited the most by the vacuum at the top of the poll spawned by the rash of upsets of unranked over top-10 teams. Currently, BC is one of only five undefeated teams left in Division I. When nay-sayers point out the quality of our wins, there's not much we can say. We've done exactly what is the best case scenario for any team: win. What else could we have done? The detractors tend to forget that while our strength of schedule is not the highest, we have established the stingiest rushing defense in the nation to this point, and a bend-but-not-break pass defense has picked off the ball a league-leading 18 times. This is also in combination with our passing offense (8th), total offense (16th), scoring defense (18th), turnover margin (2nd), pass efficiency defense (18th), sacks allowed (7th), and tackles for loss allowed (3rd)... to name a few.

More than one preseason columnist had picked BC to lose at least two games by this point in the season, and no one expected the team to do much better than a mediocre 8-4, never mind a potential bid at the national championship. These same columnists refuse to write strongly on their feelings about a winning Boston College team right now. The collective opinion of football experts are of the "wait-and-see" mentality concerning BC football right now, with the Thursday night game at Virginia Tech a "Prove it or get out" opportunity for BC to show they belong in the top 10. Not only that, but it's also a chance for Heisman hopeful Matt Ryan to prove that he, too, is not overrated.

Ryan's poise and experience have been keys to his leadership of the team this year. Without having a set-up junior season putting up big numbers such as McFadden or Tebow (I would have listed Brennan or Jackson here, but they've all but fallen out of the race) Ryan is still somewhat considered a dark horse to win the award. Although he's been compared to several pro quarterbacks, and will likely be a first-round draft pick next year, Ryan has benefitted from some of the hype being taken away from him by Boston's pro sports teams, allowing him to calmly and quietly (for the most part) do his thing.

So where do I think BC stands? Are they overrated? In previous years, I would say no, they wouldn't deserve the #2 ranking right now. Why would they? They've gone undefeated against a weak schedule, with no real proof that they can hang with the other elite teams surrounding them in the BCS standings. However, since BC has won all the games like it SHOULD, while others have failed to win at home against crappy - excuse me - teams not in the top 25, where else should we be? In my honest opinion, we deserve the #2 ranking until proven otherwise... and if we beat VT in Blacksburg, I am sold on us being #1. We may not be the most athletic team, but we get the job done. And in the end, a W is a W, regardless of how pretty you look doing it.

Side note: This also has to do with the fact that I think the other teams around us are overrated. Let's look at the #1 Ohio State University Buckeyes, with a strength of schedule the NCAA says is weaker than ours, and an offense that is struggling. OSU's defense has been absolutely incredible, though, and they say defense wins championships... Like Boston College, OSU still has stuff to prove as well, and we'll see how they fare in the latter half of their season.

As for LSU, they are an incredible team, but as was clear this past weekend, unless their athletes play flawlessly, their coaching decisions will cause them to lose another game by season's end. This little snippet from Fiu's Cavalcade of Whimsy - 2007 on College Football News describes my sentiments exactly:

"I don’t care that the 22-yard Matt Flynn to Demetrius Byrd touchdown pass that lifted LSU to a win over Auburn worked. It was a horrible play call, and either head coach Les Miles still doesn’t seem to understand what actually happened and why it was so dumb, or he knows he dodged a bullet.

No, it wasn’t a great call. No, it wasn’t gutsy. It was an all-timer of a brain-cramp that just so happened to work because of the brilliant execution by the players. It was the type of call that Miles, who obviously had no clue about the clock situation, will make in the future that will get his team beat. Even after the fact, Miles still didn’t get it."

Then again, if the top three teams all may be overrated... who isn't?

(FUN FACT: Boston College is the 8th most underrated team in the past 10 years)

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