Boston College Beats USC: How It Happened


The “Boston College beats USC” tale is an epic one that will live in Eagles lore for a long time, and it is fairly simple to explain how they did it.

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Visions of the 2013 game in Los Angeles burned in the heads of the fans, and perhaps some of the players. A USC team that looked down and out the week before rose up and gave the Eagles the football equivalent of an atomic wedgie. Even BC’s game the previous weekend stung badly, as Boston College sleepwalked through most of their meeting with Pittsburgh.

The fact that it happened is what is stunning; how the Eagles went about it comes down to fundamental football.

Boston College Beats USC: It’s A Trap?

The previous weekend, the USC Trojans went to Stanford and beat the Cardinal, rocketing them into the top ten for the first time in several years. Steve Sarkisian had gotten his team off to a great start, but Stanford made the Trojans earn every bit of that victory. Follow that up with a cross-country flight, and this looked like a textbook “trap” game.

It is impossible to know to what extent, as the physical conditions and mental states of the USC players will remain a mystery to us, but USC did not play up to their potential, especially on defense.

Boston College Beats USC: Running Free

In last year’s game, the Eagles rushed for 101 yards against the Trojans, and that was with a Heisman finalist in the backfield. This year? 452. Four hundred fifty-two.

Tyler Murphy led the way with 191 rushing yards, followed by other strong efforts by sophomores Myles Willis and Tyler Rouse, as well as freshmen Jon Hilliman and Sherman Alston. In total, the Eagles had three runs of over 50 yards.

Boston College had some excellent playcalls on the ground, and Murphy’s mobility made execution go a lot more smoothly. With four running backs, a dual-threat quarterback, and a bit of trickery, the Eagles threw a number of looks at the USC defense, who seemed lost at times.

Boston College Beats USC: Discipline

The Eagles had three penalties against Pittsburgh, a few of which were brutal, yet only had two in total against USC. The flags were mostly tucked away on both sides for this one, but Boston College did not make situations worse with unnecessary infractions.

Boston College Beats USC: Sack Attack

Boston College’s pass rush came back with a vengeance on Saturday night, sacking Cody Kessler five times in the victory. In a related matter, the Eagles managed sixteen tackles for a loss.

The defense for the Eagles came up in a huge way, despite the final score showing 31 points allowed. Some of those scores were on short fields for USC, but aside from a few plays in which they got burnt, it was a very competitive effort. Don Brown’s dudes looked as determined as they have been under his leadership so far.

Boston College Beats USC: In The Trenches

One of the key reasons Boston College won the game is that their line play was vastly improved over the last Eagles-Trojans meeting, and even significantly bolstered from a week prior. The Eagles’ offense line got no push in 2013, but in 2014 allowed for a major rushing attack that handed the USC run defense their worst game since the days of Jimmy Carter.

On the other side, it was the defensive ends and linebackers who were able to collapse Kessler’s pocket on a consistent basis and smoke out both passing and running plays before they started. In the case of USC’s run game, it was completely shut down by Boston College’s front seven.