I don’t know how Navy fans feel, but for most BC fans this game is the ultimate afterthought. The focus remains on the new coaching staff. Who’s coming? Who’s going? But this game is important. BC needs to win. This is the players’ first chance to impress Jags. This is McGovern and potentially Spaz’ opportunity to show their new boss Jags what they are capable of. And most importantly this is BC’s chance to extend the nation’s longest current bowl win streak. The streak took a funny place amongst BC fans. Many are legitimately proud of it. Others, including this blogger, saw it as an over-hyped crutch used to justify TOB’s accomplishments. Now that TOB is gone, the streak is ours, not TOB’s. BC should win this game, extending the streak to seven games and within reach of Florida State’s 11-game streak. That, along with the chance for the team to win 10 games for the first time since Flutie, makes this game important.
Theme that won’t be discussed on television
There will be plenty of talk about coaches. Johnson is still in the mix for the Alabama job. It wouldn’t surprise me to hear Jags call in. They will talk about TOB’s departure. And there will be talk about Spaz and the admirable job he is doing. What won’t be discussed is that Navy infamously snubbed TOB during their mid-‘90s coaching search. John Feinstein captured the moment in his book Civil War. TOB came off in his interview as cold and uninterested, so the USNA hired Charlie Weatherbie instead. So when the media subtly scoffs at BC for letting TOB go, they overlook that the three schools that knew TOB best (USNA, UVA, and BC) all let the old Marine walk away from opportunities because they tired of his personality.
Three simple keys
1. Stop Navy on 1st and 2nd down. Navy has an impressive bowl streak of its own. Each year they overwhelm a favored team with long, methodical drives that break the spirit of the other team. The key to those drives is getting four and five yards on the 1st and 2nd down. Navy is not a big play team. But they are a solid, confident team. BC needs to slow them down with solid tackling and crowding the line. The key to winning is stalling Navy drives early.
2. Throw early and often. Navy does not have the pass rush or the corners to stay with us. BC should come out and throw like Notre Dame did against the Middies. But with the whole offensive coaching staff leaving, I have no idea what to expect. Will they be stubborn? Creative? Who knows? But if Ryan doesn’t throw for 250 yards, the blame will be on Dana Bible.
3. Create turnovers. The last time these two teams played, BC forced six turnovers. By design, Navy’s offense limits possessions. BC needs every turnover possible to get another chance to score.
-- TOB teams are 1-4 in the state of North Carolina
-- BC is 17-11 all time vs. the USNA
-- BC is 5-2 against the spread in TOB bowls
The current line is BC -6
What would be a pleasant surprise? An easy BC victory where the underclassmen get to play and where the guys honor Spaz with a Gatorade dump.
What would be a letdown? Losing. Navy is very good and certainly comes in with more focus. Even with all the distractions, BC should win. I hope the coaches and the players come out with enough pride to finish on a high note.
What would be a shocker? A Navy romp. Although Navy has the better coaching staff, we have more talent. They may steal the game, but there is no reason they should run away with it.
I want to win this game. The TOB era is over and everyone involved deserves to end on a high note. Plus this is a chance to win 10 games. That accomplishment is somewhat watered down by the extended seasons and bowl games, but it is an accomplishment none the less. If the team comes to play and is given a gameplan to win, they should eventually pull away from the game Middies.
Final Score: BC 31, Navy 21.