With ACC title game loss, Boston College Orlando-bound
The destination is now known.
Boston College will play its final game of the 2007 season in Orlando. It’s a nice spot to be in late December - a warm weather respite from the cold New England winter with plenty of tourist spots to spend some time.
But it’s not Miami.
The Eagles, now 10-3, last night accepted a bid to the Champs Sports Bowl on Dec. 28 where they will play Michigan State (7-5). It’s not the destination they talked about reaching all season. What they wanted was there for the taking on Saturday, but they couldn’t quite get it.
They wanted the Orange Bowl, but a 30-16 loss to Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship Game destroyed that dream, and instead it will be the Hokies who play Georgia on Jan. 3 in one of the glamour games of the bowl season.
“I don’t think we need to look at this as a consolation prize,” BC coach Jeff Jagodzinski said on a conference call Sunday night after the bowl announcement. “I’m excited about taking my team to a postseason bowl. ... We’ve got the longest bowl winning streak in the country (at seven), and hopefully we can build on that.”
The Eagles, naturally, are disappointed. It won’t be easy for a team that was so single-minded all season, repeating week after week, whether after a win or a loss, that winning the ACC was what they wanted this year, and with it the conference’s berth in the Orange Bowl.
“Every game we go into we try and win,” Jagodzinski said. “There aren’t many teams in the country with 10 wins, much less 11. There’s even a two-loss team playing for the national championship (LSU).”
Looking back doesn’t serve BC at this point. But if they did, they’d see Saturday’s game was one they should have won.
The Eagles, to a man, said they lost because they didn’t make plays, didn’t execute in crucial situations. True.
But it gets more specific than that. The Eagles lost because of failure in the kicking game.
BC had a relatively easy 36-yard field goal blocked early in the first quarter when Steve Aponavicius never got the ball up high enough. Later, after taking a 16-7 lead on a touchdown run by quarterback Matt Ryan, Aponavicius again never got the ball up high enough. The try was not only blocked but returned by Virginia Tech for a 2-point conversion.
That’s four easy points BC left on the field, plus two Virginia Tech never should have had - a six-point swing.
Jagodzinksi attributed the blocks to problems with the snap, with Mike McLaughlin subbing for the injured Jack Geiser.
But failure in the kicking game - not just Saturday but all season long when the Eagles were near the bottom of the ACC in extra-point percentage, field goal percentage, field goals made and field goals attempted - affected other drives as well.
BC could have attempted field goals of 45 and 47 yards, one in the first quarter and one in the third, but both times tried and failed to convert on fourth down.
Had BC gotten points on any of those three drives well into Tech territory - the block plus the fourth-down failures - and had there not been a three-point swing on the blocked extra point, the Eagles would not have been in desperation mode late in the fourth quarter. They would not have been down 23-16 with 2:25 left, and when faced with fourth down from the Tech 13 could have lined up for an easy 33-yard attempt and taken the three points and a likely win.
Instead, Ryan got flushed from the pocket and was forced to simply throw the ball up for grabs. The pass was picked off by Vince Hall, and BC’s Orange Bowl hopes disappeared.
So instead of Miami, the Eagles are off to Orlando.
“We’re really excited to go to Orlando and play Michigan State,” Jagodzinski said. “We’re excited about trying to get 11 wins for the first time since 1940. ... To play in a postseason bowl is an honor in itself.”
Eric Avidon is a Daily News staff writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 508-626-3809.