1:00 PM ET, September 29, 2007
Alumni Stadium, CHESTNUT HILL, MA
All that stands between Boston College and its best start in more than 50 years is a win over a team from the Football Championship Subdivision, but don't tell that to first-year Eagles coach Jeff Jagodzinski.
No. 12 Boston College tries to remain unbeaten and back up its highest ranking in 14 years when it hosts Massachusetts on Saturday.
The Eagles (4-0) moved up two spots in the AP Top 25 poll after last Saturday's 37-17 victory over Army. This is the highest ranking for Boston College since November 1993, when it rose to No. 11 in the nation after an upset of then-No. 1 Notre Dame.
Led by senior quarterback Matt Ryan, the Boston College offense has put at least 37 points on the board in three of its first four games. Ryan ranks fifth in the nation with 1,341 passing yards, and the Heisman hopeful already has thrown 10 touchdown passes.
Defensively, the Eagles have held each of their last three opponents to 17 points, rank third in the nation with 41.3 rushing yards allowed per game and have 10 interceptions.
The strong performances on both sides of the ball have BC seeking its first 5-0 start since 1954, when it played its home games at Fenway Park. A victory Saturday over the Minutemen (4-0) might seem to be a mere formality, but Jagodzinski refuses to look past this in-state opponent.
"You're eligible every week to take a butt-kicking. I look at the scores from (last Saturday)", Jagodzinski said, referring to previously winless Syracuse's upset of then-No. 18 Louisville and No. 25 Nebraska's close call against Ball State.
"If we do what we're supposed to do it's not going to matter," he said.
UMass is also not just any FCS opponent. The Minutemen are ranked second in both FCS polls, and are off to their best start since 1986 after last Saturday's 38-7 win at Maine. If they upset the Eagles, they would achieve their best start since opening with eight straight wins in 1975.
They would also become the second FCS team to upset a ranked opponent from the Football Bowl Subdivision this season -- along with Appalachian State's season-opening shocker over then-No. 10 Michigan -- but UMass coach Don Brown said that possibility isn't consuming his players.
"We didn't really talk about it all that much," Brown said. "Our focus is on ourselves. I don't think we executed a 60-minute game until last week. ... We know we're playing an excellent football team."
Massachusetts, though, is also off to an excellent start. The Minutemen have scored at least 35 points in each of their first four games for the first time in the 125-year history of the program.
Senior tailback Matt Lawrence has already gained 539 rushing yards with five touchdowns this year, including a 176-yard, three-TD effort last week against the Black Bears. UMass quarterback Liam Coen has completed 68.4 percent of his passes for 814 yards and nine TDs.
This is the eighth FBS opponent in the last nine years for the Minutemen, although they have not defeated one since a 26-10 victory over Ball State in 1984. Boston College beat UMass 29-7 on Oct. 2, 2004 in the last meeting, and holds a 16-5 edge in the all-time series.
Ryan put up some excellent numbers against Army last week, completing 35 of 51 passes for 356 yards and three TDs before leaving midway through the fourth quarter, but he also threw two interceptions.
BC outgained the Black Knights 573-259, but led by only 16-10 midway through the third quarter before pulling away.
"When you put enough points on the board to get the victory, you have to take some positives out of it," Ryan said. "I think there's room for improvement. We have to get better."
The Eagles are going for their 15th consecutive home victory since a 28-17 loss to Florida State on Sept. 17, 2005. The home winning streak is the longest for Boston College since a 17-game run from 1962-65.
Top 25 Overview
Appy State redux anyone? Not if Boston College can help it. The Eagles are flying high with their highest ranking in 14 years, but they face a test against UMass, which is ranked second in I-AA. BC holds a 16-5 edge in the all-time series.
|Avg Points Allowed||18.2||17.2|