Eight-Point Underdogs? BC Looks to Prove the Analysts Wrong

Given two weeks to recover after the 24-14 loss suffered at the hands of Clemson, Superfans should be ready to root on the Eagles as they head to Chapel Hill, North Carolina this weekend. With North Carolina’s 1-5 record, by the numbers alone it seems that Boston College football should easily take down the Tar Heels.

That’s what I thought until I went to ESPN.com. After refreshing the computer screen and rereading the same sentence over again, I was let down to see that North Carolina is an eight-point favorite over Boston College.  

Wait, I thought that BC has a 3-3 record and UNC has a 1-5 record. How could the sports experts think this?

Based solely on each team’s record, shouldn’t the Eagles be a better team than the Tar Heels and be favored to win this Saturday? As Will Ferrell said to Mark Wahlberg in the movie The Other Guys, “You lose that battle, you lose that battle nine times out of ten.”

I realize we aren’t talking about a hypothetical fight between a tuna fish and a lion, instead about a football game, but the idea is still relevant. The Eagles, based on the way this season has gone and on each team’s respective record, should easily beat the Tar Heels.

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However, the analysts say it isn’t that simple.

The experts, like statistician and USA Today columnist Jeff Sagarin, ranked North Carolina’s schedule as the fourth-hardest in the nation coming to this point in the season. Having played South Carolina and Miami (FL), the Tar Heels have had some legitimately difficult match-ups. But, they also played an extremely average Middle Tennessee team.

Boston College is no different. The Eagles have played two of the best teams in college football, Florida State and Clemson, but have had their share of weak match-ups.  Strength of schedule is not a reasonable excuse to give when both teams have had similar lineups.

Aside from the season opener against South Carolina, North Carolina has not had any embarrassing losses. They are a team plagued with the “almosts.”  Almost getting a touchdown, almost getting an interception and almost winning games. Unfortunately, almost doesn’t matter in sports.

In all their games, they have held a momentary lead and proved to be a worthy competitor. They lost to a talented University of Miami team 27-23 and to the under-ranked Virginia Tech football squad 27-17.

Doesn’t this sound familiar to Boston College? Other than the USC blowout, BC has stuck with some of the best teams in the nation. Winning at halftime against Clemson, and tied at halftime versus Florida State, Boston College didn’t get tossed aroundagainst those teams.

The main difference and most important fact about Boston College and North Carolina is that Boston College has a much better record.  We can dive into intangible stats, but at the end of the day, either a W or an L shows up on the scoreboard.  It determines if teams make it to a bowl game.

So what makes UNC an eight-point favorite? I do not know.

Sure, Boston College’s history against North Carolina hasn’t been the greatest. With losses against North Carolina in 2005 (16-14), 2008 (45-24) and 2009 (31-13), the Eagles have certainly struggled in the past against the Tar Heels.  That is the past, but this is a new BC team.

Boston College got robbed on the pregame prediction and spread, but that won’t be the case for this weekend’s game.

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