The best thing that could have happened to BC this year was its schedule, arguably the most favorable in the ACC, especially in the second half of the season when it needed wins the most. With the help of a three-game November stretch that included Wake Forest, Duke and Virginia, the Eagles became the first program in ACC history to lose five straight games and then have a five-game winning streak.
They did it with a strong running game and their traditionally stingy blue-collar defense, led by All-America linebacker Luke Kuechly. Running back Montel Harris was the only offense BC had for most of the season and helped take pressure off of rookie quarterback Chase Rettig after Dave Shinskie was benched. There were plenty of bumps and bruises along the way, as BC was forced to rely on true freshmen, including Rettig and running back Andre Williams, but that will only benefit the program in the future. While the Eagles ushered in a new era of talent, they will also bid farewell to the face of the program in linebacker Mark Herzlich, whose comeback from Ewing’s Sarcoma cancer was one of the best stories in college football.
Offensive MVP: Harris. He topped the 100-yard mark in his final six games of the regular season and in eight of 11 appearances overall. He injured his knee in the win against Virginia, but the Eagles wouldn’t have become bowl-eligible without him. He leads the ACC with 103.6 rushing yards per game and 1,243 rushing yards.
Defensive MVP: Kuechly. He leads the nation in tackles (171, 14.25 per game) and solo tackles (102, 8.50 per game) and has registered 10 or more tackles in 21 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the nation. He is the only BC player to record 300 tackles in his first two seasons, doing so in his 23rd game.
Turning point: The Eagles' 16-10 win against Clemson stopped their five-game losing streak – the program’s longest since 1998 – and restored their hope in bowl eligibility. BC’s defense forced three turnovers and the Eagles haven’t lost since.
What’s next: Boston College is headed to San Francisco for the second straight year, this time to face Nevada in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. It’s the 12th straight bowl game for Boston College, and in order to win it, the defense will have to come through again. Nevada is No. 3 in the country in total offense, No. 7 in scoring offense and No. 3 in rushing offense.