NEWTON, Mass. -- Sometimes, the difference between winning and losing is clear. Take, for example, the talk between Chase Rettig and his leading receiver this week.
"He's kind of done it all for us so far," Rettig said of Alex Amidon. "I gave him a hard time because he only had 99 yards last week. Challenging him to put a couple of 100-yard receiving games together."
Amidon said with a laugh, "He was just like, 'Oh, you couldn't get one more yard?'"
When reporters suggested Amidon should tell Rettig to throw deeper, he laughed and said, "Yeah, exactly, 'Throw me a fast one when I'm open.' Just joking around."
That's the kind of lighthearted back-and-forth that's hard to find after a loss. The Eagles (1-1, 0-1 ACC) would no doubt be happy if there's more of that to come after this weekend's matchup with the Northwestern Wildcats (2-0).
With tight end Chris Pantale and last season's leading receiver Bobby Swigert out with injuries, someone had to step up and fill the void for BC. Amidon has done that, leading the team with 16 catches for 248 yards, good for a 15.5 yard average, and a touchdown in the first two games.
In 11 games last season, Amidon had just 20 catches for 220 yards, good for an 11-yard average, and one touchdown.
"He's in his third year, he's getting better, he understands what's happening, he works hard and quarterbacks like to throw to guys that catch it and work hard and get open," head coach Frank Spaziani said of Amidon. "So you put all that together and you have his results so far."
"I just have a lot of trust in Alex," Rettig said, when asked about the connection. "He's really hardworking. It just seems like we have the right plays called for him at the right time."
For his part, Amidon is enjoying his new role as a focal point of the offense.
"It has been [fun]," Amidon said. "I'm not used to it. The most catches I had before was I think four in a game, so it's a lot different, being out on the field for the whole game."
He had six grabs for 99 yards and a score in the Eagles' 34-3 win over Maine, after totaling 10 grabs and 149 yards in the loss to Miami in the opener.
Doug Martin's fast-paced offense seems especially well-suited to the speedy Amidon, who teammates say never seems to get tired.
"I love it," he said of the offense. "Being able to play without really thinking makes such a difference. Sometimes when you're in an intricate offense you gotta go to the line of scrimmage and you gotta start thinking about certain different things.
"But with this one, we've been doing the same things for so long now it's just second nature, you can just play as fast as you can."
And fast play can lead to big yardage totals and quick points, which if it leads to a W leaves everyone more in the mood to play the wit.
The Eagles have 18 players on their roster from the Midwest, including seven hailing from Illinois. Seniors Nick Clancy (Plainfield/Joliet Catholic) and Emmett Cleary (Arlington Heights/Saint Viator) and sophomore Andy Gallik (Evergreen Park/Brother Rice) are three of the Prairie State natives.
All three considered Northwestern during the recruiting process, before deciding for various reasons that BC was a better fit. Cleary said he was drawn by BC's reputation as O-line U; Clancy said he wanted to get away from home; and Gallik said he wanted to get out of the Big Ten atmosphere he'd grown up in.
For the Land of Lincoln products, the visit to Evanston, Ill., gives them a chance to play in front of family and friends who might not have been able to make it out to Chestnut Hill to see them play in person.
That in turn means it's time to take teammates up on deals made to swap allotted tickets.
"My dad just emailed me last night, the rough draft of who's making the cut," Clancy said before practice Wednesday, drawing laughs from the assembled reporters. "Who's not gonna get tickets and who is. I think it's immediate family gets priority and then after that if I have any extra they go out to anybody else."
Clancy went to the same high school, Joliet Catholic, as Northwestern freshman running back Malin Jones. Though they weren't at the school at the same time, Clancy said he would see Jones when he went back to school during breaks from BC and tried to be a mentor to the younger player.
In fact, he tried to convince Jones to come east, as well, but that didn't work out.
The fifth-year senior, who's playing his first key role for the Eagles this season, is thrilled about the way the schedule worked out.
"It's really exciting, just having this opportunity to kind of showcase what I can do," he said. "And finally having the chance to start on a national scale in front of my home crowd, it's gonna be really spectacular. I've been itching to get down there. I can't wait for Saturday."
Battling the Big Ten
BC has played 41 games against opponents from the Big Ten in its history, going 11-30. That's a winning percentage of .268, which over a 12-game schedule would equate to just three wins a season (3.216, to be exact).
Prior to last season's 24-17 loss to Northwestern, BC hadn't faced a Big Ten opponent since the Champs Sports Bowl after the 2007 season (a 24-21 win over Michigan State). If the Eagles can come out of Evanston with a win over the Wildcats, Spaziani's record against Big Ten teams as head coach will be even at 1-1.
A win would also push Spaziani's road record to 8-9, drawing him that much closer to a .500 mark away from the Heights.
Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.