Boston College Football Goes Bowling On New Year’s Eve Day

A battle of running backs awaits on Tuesday afternoon, as BC's Andre Williams and Arizona's Ka'deem Carey take the field.

A battle of running backs awaits on Tuesday afternoon, as BC’s Andre Williams and Arizona’s Ka’deem Carey take the field.

New Year’s Eve is going to be a busy sports day in the Hub, with the Celtics and Bruins playing a day-night doubleheader at the Garden, and talk of the Patriots’ playoff hopes will fill the air. But if you’re one of those fortunate enough to have the day off at work, see if you can make some time check out the Boston College football team. The Eagles will play in the Advocare V100 Bowl against Arizona (12:30 PM ET, ESPN) and it will feature a battle of the running backs that has intrigued college football fans across the country.

The sports fans of Boston have become well-acquainted with the exploits of BC running back Andre Williams. The Heisman finalist ran for 2,100 yards and that included a big 149-yard showing against Florida State, along with a November surge that saw Williams run for over 300 yards against N.C. State.

Williams has his counterpart in Arizona’s Ka’deem Carey, who won the Pac-12 MVP award. Carey ran for over 1,700 yards in spite of missing his team’s opening game, a stat-padding opportunity against Northern Arizona. Once he got on the field, Carey was ruthlessly consistent. He rushed for between 119-206 yards every single time out, including nine conference games in a league most observers consider the second-best in the country behind the SEC.

Boston College and Arizona have each had their best moments in November. The Eagles started their surge to bowl eligibility with a November 2 win over Virginia Tech, a home victory that happened literally at the same time the Red Sox were parading through the Charles River and downtown with their World Series trophy. BC went on to knock off bowl-bound Maryland nearly did the same to Syracuse, in spite of Williams sitting out to rest up an injured shoulder.

Arizona delivered one of the more shockings wins of the season when they pounded Oregon 42-16, a victory that denied the Ducks a shot at the conference championship. If this were to be indicative of what’s going to happen on Tuesday afternoon, then BC has no shot. Fortunately, there were a lot of reports prior to that game about Oregon’s lack of interest in playing for anything other than the national title. The fact Arizona subsequently lost 58-21 to a more focused Arizona State team at least tells us the Wildcats aren’t on an unstoppable surge.

Both teams rank similarly in their respective conferences. Each finished with a 7-5 record. Each is roughly in the middle of their leagues in points scored and points allowed in conference games. This isn’t good news for Boston College—the Pac-12 not only has a better reputation than the ACC, but the Pac-12 is off to a good start in the bowl season, while the early ACC returns are more of a mixed bag.

What is hopeful is that in games where Arizona played physical rush offenses, they had problems. Washington running back Bishop Sankey, one of the more underrated in that conference and the country overall, ran for 161 yards. UCLA doesn’t have a signature back, but the Bruins have become one of the country’s most physical teams and the pounded the Wildcats for 249 rush yards.

Boston College might not compare to Washington, and certainly not to UCLA, in terms of their overall team, but the Eagles compare to most anybody in the effectiveness of their running game and the limited evidence we have suggest Williams’ success can translate well against this Pac-12 opponent. Furthermore, Williams had a good game against one of the ACC’s most physical defenses in Virginia Tech, going for 166 yards.

Oddsmakers aren’t optimistic about BC’s chances, installing Arizona as a 7 ½ point favorite, but objective college football observers I’ve spoken to feel like the Eagles are, at the very least, better than the experts say. And that would make Tuesday afternoon a good time to watch some football if you’re using up vacation days and looking for something to do.

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