The Boston College Eagles discovered their bowl season fate on Sunday afternoon with an official announcement that they would travel to Dallas, Texas on Dec. 26 to play the No. 25 Boise State Broncos in the ServPro First Responder Bowl. The matchup promises to be an entertaining one, as Boise State is a perennial powerhouse in the Mountain West and BC had one of its most promising seasons in recent memory before sizzling out down the stretch.
Both teams will look to end their seasons on a high note after experiencing disappointment over the final few weeks of the regular season. After starting the season 7-2 and rising to No. 17 in the College Football Playoff rankings, BC lost its final three games to Clemson, Florida State, and Syracuse, finishing the regular season unranked at 7-5. Boise State, meanwhile, saw its conference championship hopes go up in smoke on Saturday night, losing on the last play of overtime to a Fresno State team that it had already beaten once this season. This cost the Broncos the opportunity to play in the Fiesta Bowl, as a win accompanied by a hypothetical UCF loss would have vaulted them to the top ranking outside of the teams in the Power Five conferences.
The Eagles and Broncos have each consistently been ranked as two of the nation’s top 25 teams, but each team has some areas of concern as bowl season begins. For BC, it will be intriguing to see how the offense performs now that longtime offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler has moved on to the head coaching job at Bowling Green. Head Coach Steve Addazio currently expects Loeffler to be back for the bowl game calling plays, but the situation is still up in the air. Additionally, the health of star running back AJ Dillon may also be in question, as an ankle sprain has kept him out of a few games this year. Yet, Anthony Brown’s performance will be most important to BC’s success against a Broncos defense—which ranks at a respectable No. 39 in the nation but struggles to defend the passing game at times, allowing nearly eight yards per attempt. If Brown can make some positive plays early on, it could force the Broncos to put more men in coverage, thereby opening up lanes for the run game.
While the Eagles’ offense will have its hands full with a stingy Boise State defense, the defense faces an even tougher task, hoping to contain a Broncos offense which ranks at No. 23 in the nation. The Broncos' star quarterback Brett Rypien has thrown for over 3700 yards this season, in addition to 30 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. If the Eagles hope to end their season on a positive note and avoid a third consecutive 7-6 finish, they will need senior defensive backs Lukas Denis and Will Harris to continue to excel in coverage in their final collegiate game before heading to the NFL. The same can be said for star defensive end Zach Allen, a projected first-round pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. If he and teammate Wyatt Ray can bring pressure from the edges and force Rypien to deliver the ball quickly, it could yield some turnovers for the Eagles’ defense.
This matchup promises to be entertaining on both sides, and a Boston College win could help cement this season as a building block for the team to reach new heights next season. However, a loss would only serve to make this season more of a disappointment with a once compelling campaign fading out into a mediocre one with an extended losing streak at the end the season.
The game will be a rematch of the 2005 MPC Computers Bowl where BC defeated Boise State 27-21. This game will air on ESPN at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 26 at the site of the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas.
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