Wednesday, December 26, 2007

BC-Michigan State preview

Doesn’t it feel like ages since we last played? Prior to some recent bowl games, we were distracted by coaching searches or the joy of just getting in a bowl. Not this season. This game was and is a letdown for a team that flirted with something bigger. Regardless of prestige or lack thereof, BC and Jags need to win this game. It would cap the season on a positive note, get BC to 11 wins and shift the bowl-streak from a TOB accomplishment to a BC accomplishment.

Theme that won’t be discussed on television. In reading about Michigan State the past few weeks, I keep coming across the stat that they lost five games by a combined 28 points. I am sure we’ll hear some variation of it on Friday. I believe the announcers will describe Michigan State as either unlucky or better than their record. I know the ESPN team will not do a deep dive into how this stat can be misleading nor will they compare MSU to other 7-5 teams. As a believer in point differential, the Spartans’ near misses did catch my attention. On the season Michigan State has a point differential of 107, which is high for a 7-5 team. For comparison, these 7-5 teams had the following point differentials, Florida State (12), Georgia Tech (82), Kentucky (83). But all of those teams played a tougher schedule than the Spartans. When you compare Michigan State’s point differential to another 7-5 Big Ten team in Purdue (98), the 107 doesn’t seem as impressive or unlucky. BC’s point differential at 10-3 is only 108. We suffered a -14 setback by playing and losing an extra game. Our numbers were also impacted by the unusual number of INTs returned for TDs. What does it all mean? Nothing for the actual bowl game. As I’ve said in the past, point differential is a good indicator of how lucky or unlucky a team was. Michigan State is probably better than their record but not to the point that they should be favored or that BC should be worried.

Three Simple Keys
1. Stop the run. The D has been making teams one dimensional all season. It is more important against a team like Michigan State, whose gameplan depends on establishing the run.
2. Protect Ryan. Michigan State’s best passrusher is an academic casualty and will not be playing in the bowl. Don’t expect that to change the Spartans’ defense. They will still come after Ryan. I expect looks like Georgia Tech and UMass gave us – blitzs from every position. It will be important for AC to pick up the extra man.
3. TDs instead of FGs. Moving the ball won’t be an issue. However, scoring points might be. The second half of the season saw too many drives stall in the red zone.

Gambling notes
-- BC is 5-2 against the spread during the bowl win streak
-- BC is 3-1-1 against Michigan State
-- BC is 12-6 in bowl games
The current line is BC-4

What would be a pleasant surprise? Cruising to victory. Both teams have played numerous close games. There is no reason to think this game will be different.

What would be a letdown? Losing. I would really like to get to 11 wins.

What would be a shocker? A sound MSU win. Relates back to the pleasant surprise. This team (and group of seniors) have been in every game and fought hard throughout their four years. I would be surprised and disappointed if they don’t show up for their last game.

Bottom Line
I think BC wins this game. Even though this is Jags first as a Head Coach, the people and the players around the program know how to prepare and get mentally ready for a bowl. It also helps that Michigan State will be without some of their best players.
Final Score: BC 35, Michigan State 24


Dave said...

Heading out to my first BC bowl game tonight from NY! Great coverage all year atleagle, thanks and GO EAGLES!

BCNorCal07 said...

any word on game watches? i'm itchy to watch this game and don't have cable so i'm hoping that the NorCal chapter is getting together on friday. Go Eagles!

Big Jack Krack said...

I remember how excited I was in 1999 when BC played on New Years Eve Day in the Bowl. We basically got blown off the field by Colorado 62 to 28 - but it was our first bowl in 5 years, with a new Head Coach, etc.

After that our streak began.

We handily beat Arizona State in the Aloha Classic 31 to 17 on Christmas Day 2000.

One of our more impressive victories was over Georgia in the Music City Bowl on 12/28/2001 - 20 to 16. That victory opened my eyes. I was sitting in a Sports Bar in Roswell (Atlanta) GA filled with Bulldog fans and I believe I was the lone BC fan (my wife ended up going to a movie with some friends and missed the 2nd half). I like to think I was just as loud as all those Georgia fans.

On 12-26-2002 we destroyed Toledo 51 to 25 in the Motor City Bowl - not much to say about that.

I don't remember much about our victory over Colorado State in the San Francisco Bowl on New Years Eve 2003 - 35 to 21. I think that was the year I was at Pinehurst (I highly recommend New Year's Eve there).

We were in Charlotte for the Continental Tire Bowl (as the Big East representative) on December 30, 2004. The stadium was full and it was an exciting game. I hated to see Paul Peterson get hurt, but we basically put the game away on the next (trick) play 37 to 24.

Our vistory over Boise State on 12/28/05 was actually very impressive - even though the thought of a bowl game at a team's cold weather home field seems ridiculous to me. I think it was called the MPC Computers Bowl at that time.

Finally last year we were lucky, I suppose, to beat Navy in Charlotte amid the coaching change distractions, etc. Good teams make the most of their breaks and we did that at Navy"s expense.

Perhaps during our run of 7 straight bowl victories we "coulda-shoulda" gone to better bowls. I know one thing - as recently as last year I would have been thrilled if BC got the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando - we probably should have.

We had our chances to beat Virginia Tech and things didn't work out for us in Jacksonville.

I would like to be playing Auburn in Atlanta, perhaps, but we have a very good opponent in Michigan State at Orlando.

We are not disappointed to be in Orlando. This is a great destination spot for this team and these seniors. Let's pay attention to business and win our 8th straight bowl game against a worthy Big Ten Opponent!

Go BC Beat MSU! We owe them one for their victory over us in the Hockey National Championship.

BC will be ready.