Posted by Daniel Popko
As you sit there wearing Aunt Elma’s freshly knitted sweater and basking in the hundreds of dollars of store credit that Dec. 26 always brings, the Boston College football team will be getting ready to suit up and face the mighty University of Southern California Trojans.
Sure, it sounds bad; head coach Frank Spaziani even told the Boston Globe, “Hopefully it’s not a 76-second knockout.’’
But why is everybody so worried? Just look at the match-up on paper.
Sure USC has three Heisman Trophies this decade and seven overall. BC has Doug Flutie and then some more Doug Flutie.
USC has the hotshot former NFL head coach who gives away cars and apartments (allegedly) like most people give away candy canes on Christmas. BC has a lifetime college assistant who is best known for his yellow towel and 1970s-era moustache.
USC’s freshman quarterback was one of the top five players in the country last season. BC’s freshman quarterback is 25 and parlayed his time with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats into an ACC starting gig.
USC has pomp, circumstance, shiny body armor, and dudes with swords riding on horses. BC has an inflatable bird that stands on its head and an “Eagles on the Warpath” chant that is less effectively deployed than the federal bailout.
But none of that stuff is the “paper” that the game will be about. That’s just the intro, the fluff, the pictures and one-syllable words that doubles as the USC team’s study guide for English class. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)
Once you actually take a look at the “paper,” it doesn’t seem that daunting. In fact, the Men of Troy look downright beatable.
Sure BC is only 8-4. The Mighty Trojans? Well they are not one win better, going 8-4 themselves.
BC could barely win on the road, with three of their four loses coming away from Alumni stadium. In two of the games (Virginia Tech and Clemson), they couldn’t even put up a fight. USC? Well they lost two on the road, including a 27-point dusting by Rose Bowl-bound Oregon.
BC’s losses were all to bowl-eligible opponents (Notre Dame decided not to attend one, though if they had, I’m sure the 6-6 Irish would have somehow found a slot in the BCS picture). USC lost to Washington, a team who will be spending their holiday season at home and had lost 15 of their previous 16 when the then-No. 3 Trojans came to town.
BC has 25-year-old journeyman Dave Shinskie at the helm. USC has last year’s ESPN top prospect Matt Barkley running its show. Advantage? Surprisingly push.
Barkley may have thrown 2,385 yards to Shinskie’s 1,831, but both threw 13 picks, while Uncle Dave actually had one more touchdown, winning that battle 14-13.
As far as each team’s point production goes, they are pretty much even. BC scored 309 points while allowing 233. USC scored 11 more points (320) than the Eagles but allowed 12 more (245), letting the Eagles’ plus-76 point differential sit one better than the Trojans’ plus-75.
Throw in Montel Harris’ 1,355 yards and 13 touchdowns being more than anyone on the USC sideline, as well as top Trojan back Joe McKnight being questionable for the game thanks to some issues with his girlfriend’s car, and maybe BC does have just a little more than a wing and a prayer.
That being said, there is no denying the Trojans’ potential after seven straight trips to a BCS game, so it wouldn’t be a bad thing if Spaziani found the perfect game plan lying gift-wrapped by Santa under his tree. You would have to say that, on paper, the Christmas season would have to favor the Catholic school. As you know though, games aren’t won on paper.
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