BC has hosted Gameday before and had plenty of road tests. But it has been less common for these big matchups to be home at Alumni Stadium. I decided to look back at the critical home games since Alumni expanded in 1994. The larger venue, the expansion of the Notre Dame series and our transition from independent football to conference allowed more big games to come to Chestnut Hill. As you will see, my list is not always about the ranked team. Sometimes the big games were when our fans were engaged and ready for something special. I also based these on the feeling prior to the game and not the outcome. Here's my Top Ten list.
1. No. 8 Notre Dame, 1994
BC wasn't ranked at the time and the enthusiasm for Dan Henning was limited, but the fanbase was still pumped for Notre Dame's first trip to Alumni. The upset of Notre Dame from the year before was fresh, so people were also looking to continue the celebration and feel of that moment. BC went on to thrash the Irish again. It was probably the best moment of the Henning era.
2. No 2. Clemson, 2018
This weekend is setting up to be a huge moment in BC Football. Although we've had success under Addazio, it could be argued that BC Football hasn't mattered for a decade. That changes if we win this game and win the Division.
3. No. 1 Miami, 2001
There are plenty of parallels between this game and this week's Clemson game. Miami was in the middle of an incredible run and had arguably the most talented team in college football history. For added drama, BC's best playmaker William Green was suspended for this game. BC executed the perfect bend but don't break gameplan and nearly pulled off the upset, until Ed Reed saved the 'Canes' season.
4. Syracuse, 2004
This was supposed to be a formality. It was the final home game of the season against a lame duck Orange team. It was supposed to be wrap up BC's first Big East title and first major bowl since Flutie. It didn't end well.
5. No. 8 Florida State, 2005
This was the first time BC hosted Gameday. One could argue that hosting Gameday was an even bigger deal then (I have an upcoming post on the diminishing profile of Gameday). It was also our first ACC game and the first time Florida State and Bobby Bowden visited Alumni. Bowden was a legend and Florida State was an annual contender. We joined the ACC for this sort of moment.
6. Maryland, 2008
Many of our biggest games under Jags were on the road, but the rollercoaster 2008 season culminated with a home game against Maryland. Win and BC wins the division. They pulled it off in a night game at Alumni and the place was rocking from the opening kick.
7. No. 4 Virginia Tech, 2000
Michael Vick and the Hokies were coming off a Championship game appearance and were a must see team. This was a national game on CBS when CBS still had a Big East deal. Vick would deliver one of the best performances I've seen by a visiting player.
8. No. 8 USC, 2014
Anytime a traditional power comes to Alumni, it is a big deal. The Trojans were supposed to be "back" and ready to reclaim their status as an elite team. At this point Addazio was just trying to prove that his early success was not a fluke.
9. No. 12 Clemson, 2006
While Florida State's first visit was a bigger deal historically, Clemson fans helped this one feel big. There was orange all around Boston and in Alumni. The teams went to OT for the second year in a row and for the second year in a row the good guys won.
10. No. 11 Michigan, 1995
Night games used to be much rarer in College Football and around BC. When Michigan came to town, it was a huge deal and also on a primetime ESPN game.
Honorable Mention: Notre Dame 2003, No. 22 Virginia Tech 2006, Notre Dame 2008, No. 8 Florida State 2013