Where has the season gone? Looking at this bowl game, I feel like I’m stuck in a college football nightmare. It wasn’t long ago that USC seemed like they owned the Rose Bowl and Pete Carroll said that every year’s team was his “best ever”. The Emerald Bowl doesn’t exactly cut it. It’s really just a lame attempt of making it sound like it’s a relevant bowl, so you can bet that Trojan nation is not too happy about this one.
Yet, what a great opportunity for Boston College. For what has been a powerhouse of a football team, USC finally falls down to a December bowl game and the Eagles are faced with a chance at history.
Current Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez fled to the NFL following his junior season at USC and after some media attention between him and Pete Carroll, top high school prospect Matt Barkley was the one lining up under center. Despite all the hype, Barkley is still a freshman and led the Pac-10 with 12 interceptions. And though the Trojans 23rd in the nation defensively, the main problem has been consistency. Two of their four losses consisted of their opponent scoring 47+ points; not the defense we’re used too.
Boston College, on the other hand, has a forceful 18th ranked defense and looks to keep Barkley’s struggles at a high. And because of a 14th ranked rushing defense, I expect the Eagles to force the game out of the hands of USC’s talented backs and into Matt Barkley’s, a tough challenge for the freshman’s first bowl game. When it comes to defending the pass though, that’s where the Eagles fall through the cracks. Allowing 2,568 passing yards this season, this may be USC’s best shot at moving the ball. If they can do that, Boston College is in trouble.
Not exactly the most reliable offense, Boston College doesn’t have a consistent quarterback in Dave Shinskie and will have to rely heavily on running back Montel Harris to carry them through this game. With 13 touchdowns this season, Harris is most defiantly their best shot at outscoring Barkley and the USC offense. However, Harris can’t do it alone. As I mentioned earlier, Dave Shinskie is a concern and he’s going to have to step up it up through the air if they want to have a realistic shot at pulling off the upset.
History shows that since 2001, both teams win 82% of the time when scoring 20+ points and tend to struggle when it’s a low-scoring game. So expect this one to be a battle of field position; whoever can take advantage of end-of-half field goals and turnovers will have a definite edge.
For a prediction, I think that Boston College will hang tough most the game, but will slip away as it gets late in the game. Barkley will have a solid performance with 3 touchdowns and an interception, two being to tight end Anthony McCoy and the other to receiver Damian Williams, and back Joe McKnight will score one on the ground, all leading to a 31-17 Trojan victory.