10 Years of TOB Part II: the 10 best wins
Part II of the series (Part I). TOB’s ability to beat the teams he is supposed to beat (for the most part) and lose to the team you’d expect him to lose to (for the most part) made this list a little harder to compile. Once again, this is my personal rating system with a ton of subjectivity. Part III will deal with off the field accomplishments. Of course I welcome any feedback on these games or games I might have overlooked.
10. BC 41, Georgia Tech 31. Sept. 5, 1998. This might seem like a random game. Tech wasn’t ranked at the time and BC would finish 1998 with a losing record. But it doesn’t capture what an upset it turned out to be. Over the course of 20 games this Georgia Tech team only lost three times -- once to BC and twice to Florida State. O’Leary and Hamilton were at their best and TOB beat them at home. This involved a big effort from Mike Cloud. This was TOB’s first big out of conference win.
9. BC 31, Notre Dame 29. Nov. 20, 1999. When I first posted the losses, one of the readers wrote the best wins will be easy -- just list the Notre Dame games. This one is remembered for being the first time TOB’s guys pulled up clumps of turf as souvenirs. (The practice would gain more attention a few years later.) The reason this was a big win? It was TOB’s first win over the Irish and the first victory at South Bend since the Gordon kick. This was also highpoint of O’Brien’s first winning season.
8. BC 21, Notre Dame 17. Oct. 27, 2001. Not one of the better Irish teams. In fact this game might have sealed Bob Davie’s fate in South Bend. The game makes the list not because of the Irish, but because of William Green’s performance. Green was easily the most talented guy to pass through Chestnut Hill during TOB’s era. Unfortunately, due to a variety of reasons, he rarely scratched the surface of his potential. This game was probably his best. It included a 71-yard run and a 70-yard pass play. Here is a snippet from the AP article on the game “O'Brien said. ‘William told me before the game that he was going to have the game of his life.’" (Green would be suspended one week later.)
7. BC 35, Wake Forest 30. Oct. 15, 2005. This was not well played. This opponent was not very good. The weather that day was horrible. The long-term implications are still unclear, yet this game deserves to be on the list. Why? Because Matt Ryan put on a show. He capped his gunslinging performance with a beautiful throw and catch to Challenger in the corner. Comebacks have been rare under TOB. The old Marine’s style and philosophy result in slow and steady wins. So when a gamer like Matty Ryan comes in and saves a "lost cause" game it really provides a jolt to the fan base and leaves a lasting memory. As I said, the long-term ramifications of this game are still unknown, but if Ryan becomes a star and we crush Wake Forest (like we should) people will point to this game as a turning point. Even if nothing comes of it, the last 10 minutes of this game were exciting enough to make the Top 10.
6. BC 16, Clemson 13. Sept. 24, 2005. TOB’s first ACC win. Playing without his starting QB, on the road in a brutally hot stadium, TOB put together one of his best games against a good Clemson team. The strategy was nothing new -- wear out the opponent with our size. However, there was a twist that factored in the heat (playing the second string offensive line for long stretches). The defense was also fantastic. The game showed BC belonged in the ACC. It really could’ve gone either way. I think if BC lost this game, the season could have unraveled…making this win that much bigger.
5. BC 20, Georgia 16. Dec. 28, 2001. This game marked TOB’s first win over a ranked opponent. Georgia was not dominating and a questionable punt by the 'Dawgs late in the game handed the victory to the Eagles. But TOB does deserve credit for this. BC was down early and this was a virtual road game. The team hung on and earned what is sadly TOB’s most respectable bowl win to date.
4. BC 24, Norte Dame 23. Oct. 23, 2004. The Wake Forest win is a testament to Matt Ryan. This game will be remembered as the highlight of the Paul Peterson era. His 30-yard pass to Gonzo capped a stunning second half comeback in South Bend. Notre Dame proved to be average, but they did come into this game ranked. If the 2001 loss marked the end of the Davie run, this was probably the final nail in Ty Willingham’s coffin.
3. BC 36, West Virginia 17. Nov. 13, 2004. Ah, what could’ve been. This game was supposed to be BC’s last step en route to the Fiesta Bowl. The Syracuse loss the next week changed the way this game would be viewed. Which is a shame since BC kicked the shit out of the ‘Eers with the conference title on the line. West Virginia was ranked and BC had a notoriously miserable track record in Morgantown. Things changed that day. BC dominated in nearly every way. Moving the ball, shutting down the Mountaineers and absolutely killing them on special teams. It should’ve been the perfect exclamation point to our final Big East season. Instead it turned out to be just a good game.
2. BC 34, Virginia Tech 27. Nov. 22, 2003. BC came into this game with very little hope. Virginia Tech was ranked. BC limped in with a raw Quarterback and a team that barely got by Rutgers the week before. Things turned around quickly. Derrick Knight played really well. The defense used the bend but don’t break philosophy to contain Randall and Paul Peterson showed how exciting this offense could be when it is opened up a little.
1. BC 14, ND 7. Nov. 2, 2002. The Green Jersey game. Notre Dame was in full ‘Return to Glory’ mode. The Irish were undefeated and coming off a huge win at Florida State. BC limped in. Much of the talk heading into the week was focused on the Irish avoiding a letdown a la ’93. When the Irish came out in their Green Jerseys, it was a statement -- ‘we are ready for BC.’ The green proved unlucky as BC won a defensive struggle and sent the Irish on a slide that eventually led to Willingham’s dismissal. The game provided TOB with his first win over a Top 5 team and the biggest BC upset since the 1993 Notre Dame game.