As Holy War Week approaches in Boston College sports, with a twinbill of hockey and football on BC’s campus this upcoming weekend, the previews for the football game start a day early. With the Eagles collecting their seventh loss on Saturday at Wake Forest, the season is over for all practical purposes, and all the team has left is playing for pride. The annual game against Notre Dame, which won’t be annual for much longer, is one of the few opportunities Eagles fans have had this season to experience something resembling excitement. Whether or not the game delivers said emotions is up for debate, but there is one thing we can say about the 2012 contest that is clear: this is not 1993.
There may be non-fans perusing this site, so what happened in 1993, you ask? Boston College went to South Bend and defeated #1 Notre Dame, 41-39. That win sealed David Gordon, Tom Coughlin, and so many others in BC lore as it gave the school some Catholic bragging rights and ended the Irish’s chances of winning a national championship.
In 2012, Notre Dame is #3, pretty damn close to where they were 19 years ago in this meeting. They may find themselves #4 in the upcoming BCS standings because Oregon’s win over USC was more impressive, but in either event, they’re a highly-ranked team. Can Boston College pull off the upset? Anything is possible, but that’s not why it’s not 1993 (and we’re not just talking something simple like looking at the calendar).
It’s not 1993 because of one fact overlooked by casual observers: the ’93 Eagles were a very good team.
Going into that game, BC was 7-2 and ranked #17 in the country. Their win boosted them up to #11, but despite a loss the following week, the Eagles had a 9-3 season that helped get Tom Coughlin the Jacksonville Jaguars head coaching job. That contest at Notre Dame was a memorable upset, but it was a game between two good teams. Furthermore, the Eagles were well-coached.
This 2012 Boston College team, however, is 2-7. It is also poorly coached, as demonstrated by Frank Spaziani, who has a losing record in four seasons at BC’s helm, despite the fact that they experienced an unprecedented stretch of success before he was hired. Hypotheticals are largely meaningless, but the 1993 Eagles could probably do away with this team in short order.
While 1993 was a battle between two solid football teams, this is a battle between a lucky but very good Top 5 road team and a legitimately awful home squad. The gap between these two teams is much, much bigger than it was 19 years ago.
Were BC to win on Saturday, it would be a truly momentous upset because of that factor. In many respects, it would be even more damaging to Notre Dame than 1993, because a team that loses to Army isn’t exactly a “good loss.” At the same time, that upset is going to be much harder to pull with a defense that has been well below average all year and an offense that has leveled off over the last four games.
Should it come to pass, people would think back to 1993, but it wouldn’t be much like it. Because of how different Boston College is now as opposed to then, this would be an achievement in its own right without comparison. It is nevertheless going to be a steep hill to climb for the Eagles, who have done little in the way of winning so far.