This bye week for Boston College comes just at the right time.
The Eagles need help. The 41-39 loss to Louisville over the weekend hurt both on the injury front and on the scoreboard, and a little time to heal up is exactly what they need.
Of course, losing starting quarterback Anthony Brown to injury was not ideal. You feel for Brown, who has battled various ailments over the past few years, and has played well at times this season.
With a 3-3 record, BC stands at 1-2 in the Atlantic Coast Conference and all but done when it comes to believing in an Atlantic Division title. Right now, everything is about getting to a bowl. That's six wins, and with NC State, Clemson, Syracuse, Florida State, Notre Dame, and Pittsburgh left, getting those three wins to head to the postseason won't be easy.
The NC State game could go either way, and that's on Homecoming with an extra week to prepare. If backup quarterback Dennis Grosel is the guy going forward, he gives this team an athletic option in an offense that already had a solid runner in Brown at the position.
Unfortunately, this looks like a team that won't go very far despite the best efforts of running back AJ Dillon. He had yet another 100-yard rushing performance against Louisville Saturday, but the junior deserves a better fate than what his team is able to accomplish in terms of wins and losses.
No matter what, Dillon will go down as one of the best backs in program history. However, given his talent level and the amount of carries he has already had, no one would be surprised if he left for the NFL as a draft-eligible junior. For any player at that position — and the amount of physical wear-and-tear that comes with it — it is never a bad choice to head to the league if he feels he will get drafted.
Dillon will most certainly get picked somewhere if he does choose to leave. It is just unfortunate that in what could be his last season, the Eagles are not likely to take that next step as a program.
Missing a bowl game is certainly not out of the question, but maybe this bye week is exactly what the Eagles need to turn things around. It's not likely given what we've seen so far, but this team needs a boost in some form or fashion, because the last two weeks have been deflating for everyone involved in the program.
Don't peek ahead
If you're Harvard, it's hard not to look past a Cornell team that is 1-2 entering this week's game.
After that, the Crimson head to Holy Cross, then travel to Princeton, then come back to Harvard Stadium for a showdown with Dartmouth.
Holy Cross is 2-1 against fellow Football Championship Subdivision competition, including a victory over a New Hampshire team that has started to turn the corner. Princeton and Dartmouth are both undefeated, and either ranked or receiving votes in the FCS top 25, respectively.
This will be a critical stretch for both Harvard and Holy Cross, and the atmosphere for the game in two weeks in Worcester should be electric.
Again, though, no use in peeking ahead for either team, but we certainly can.
Looking the part
We got a chance to watch Merrimack up close Saturday, and even though the Warriors lost to Bryant, 24-17, we love what coach Dan Curran is doing with this program.
The field and atmosphere on Homecoming weekend was terrific, as there were over 10,000 fans in attendance.
This is not a Merrimack team that looks like it's struggling to compete at the Football Championship Subdivision level. As Curran said after the loss, the Warriors outplayed Bryant for much of that game.
We are curious to see how the rest of the season plays out, but walking away from that contest Saturday, the better we felt about Curran being able to get this program up to the level he wants it sooner rather than later.
Don't freak out
UMass fans certainly can't be happy with Saturday's 44-0 loss to Florida International. Still, this is not something to panic over. FIU is just better.
Right now, a lot of teams are, and that includes Louisiana Tech, which should also beat UMass by a pretty hefty margin next weekend.
So, now what? The Minutemen will have a bye week after that, and then hosts rival UConn on Homecoming at the end of the month.
The goal is to win that game and generate enough momentum off of it to build more confidence heading into the final stretch of the season.
That's critical, because you're likely not going to see a win after that point. Liberty, Army, Northwestern, and BYU will all be heavily favored. If the Minutemen only win one more game, you'd like to see it come against a fellow New England Football Bowl Subdivision team, and one the program battles for many of the same recruits with.
How 'bout those Hounds?
In one of the best games of the weekend at any level, Assumption held off Bentley, 45-42, in overtime.
Assumption held a 28-point lead in the third quarter, and Bentley came all the way back to tie it before the Greyhounds pulled it out in the end.
Peabody's Doug Santos is making his case as one of the best backs in the Northeast 10 with another strong game for the Greyhounds, as he rushed for 127 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries.
This was a critical result for Assumption, which takes on Pace next weekend. The latter lost its first league game this past weekend, and Stonehill and Assumption are the only teams left with perfect Northeast 10 marks.
Those two meet Oct. 26 at Assumption, but this has the feeling of a race that could end in a two- or three-way tie with all the parity at the top.
OK, so we knew coming into this weekend that the UMass-Dartmouth at Framingham State game could be one of the best around, and it was.
It took a Devaun Ford touchdown run in the fourth quarter to give the Rams the 39-33 win, and Framingham State held off a major challenge from a UMass-Dartmouth program that feels like it will be heard from not just this year, but in seasons to come.
But, for now, it's hard to knock off a team of Framingham State's caliber. Even though the Rams took a tough loss in their opener against Endicott, they have proven to be far from done when it comes to being an upper-echelon Div. 3 team in this area.
Here comes Chaug
At first, you don't think Minneachaug looks like some sort of dominant team in warmups. In other words, the Falcons aren't exactly like Div. 3 Western Mass. favorite, Springfield Central.
Then the ball gets kicked off, and you see that, yeah, this team is for real. We saw that firsthand in Friday night's 42-19 romp over West Springfield.
Quarterback Anthony Izzo is a smart, accurate quarterback who has a nice group of running backs and receivers to distribute the ball to. His offensive line can protect and push people around.
The defense is swarming with playmakers at all three levels.
We still feel like Central is the team to beat in that bracket, but Minnechaug looks every bit capable of making that game interesting (if it comes to that).
We are possibly going to the Belmont Hill at BB&N game next weekend. It could be one of several separator contests in the Independent School League over the next month or so.
If Belmont Hill wins, you're looking at a BB&N team with two losses and most likely out of the picture for a NEPSAC bowl bid.
Given how talented and experienced the Knights are, that would be a true shock that no one coming into this season could have predicted.
If Belmont Hill loses, then you could be down to two teams — Governor's Academy and Milton Academy — with no losses in the entire league.
We said this last week, and we'll reiterate this point. It would be a major surprise at this point to see anyone from this league run the table. If a squad emerges from this ringer with no losses, you're looking at a true wagon, because this is a very competitive top-end group of teams.