Nonconference opponents and 2010 records:
at Central Florida (11-3)
at Notre Dame (8-5)
at Virginia Tech
Gut-check game: Nov. 3 vs. Florida State. If Boston College wants to make the leap from consistently underrated darkhorse to legitimate contender, it has to win this Thursday night game. The Eagles are a tough team to beat at home, but Florida State is the team to beat in the Atlantic Division. Boston College will be returning home from back-to-back road games, and the Seminoles will have been at home for two weeks.
Trap game: Sept. 3 vs. Northwestern. Right off the bat Boston College should be concerned. They’ll host a Northwestern team eager to erase the memories of a disappointing 2010 season in which the Wildcats dropped their final three games by a combined score of 163-88.
Snoozer: Massachusetts. There’s no reason for Boston College to lose to an FCS program, even if it is in-state.
Good luck with that: Five of the final seven games are on the road, including trips to Clemson, Virginia Tech, Maryland, Notre Dame and Miami.
Upset watch: Nov. 19 at Notre Dame. It’s a different program under Brian Kelly, who will be entering his second season, but the rivalry between the two Catholic schools remains the same. The Irish should be a top 25 team, as 17 starters return from last year’s eight-win team, but Boston College will not be awestruck by the trip to South Bend. Been there, won that.
Analysis: BC has only six home games for the first time since it joined the conference, but two come in November, and against what will likely be two of the best teams in the Atlantic Division in Florida State and NC State. This is a more difficult schedule than the Eagles had in 2010, when they stopped a five-game losing streak with a five-game winning streak to end the regular season. A similar run to end the season seems unlikely. The bye week in the middle of the season is timely, and they’ll need it with an unforgiving second half of the season. This schedule is manageable enough that BC should again be a bowl team, but if the Eagles are going to make a serious run at anything more, they’re going to have to do it on the road in November.