On Saturday, Syracuse came to Alumni Stadium and handed Boston College a 42-21 defeat. The loss drops the Eagles to 7-5 overall and 4-4 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, the third straight loss to end the season.
Here are four quick takeaways as BC's regular season comes to a close.
— That eighth win remains elusive, and this year it hurts more than usual. It is not a secret that BC would love to take that next step under coach Steve Addazio. In now his sixth season, the Eagles have clinched five bowl appearances. In the four leading up to this season, the Eagles topped out at seven wins. That's where they stand now, despite sitting at 7-2 heading into the Clemson game a few weeks ago. Although that Clemson loss was expected, the matchups at Florida State and then at home against Syracuse were winnable. Yes, the Syracuse game got out of hand, but BC had plenty of momentum heading down the stretch before that Clemson game, and the Eagles were not able to take advantage of it. The Eagles did not want to have to wait until the bowl game to try and eclipse seven wins, but that's the position they find themselves in now, anyway.
— The fashion in which Syracuse won makes this hurt even more. The Florida State and Syracuse losses were both gut-punchers, but in different ways. The Eagles gave up a late score in the loss to the Seminoles, then really didn't compete in a way they best could against Syracuse. There were some very ugly moments. BC jumped offside multiple times when the Orange were facing fourth down and using hard counts. It just felt, at a certain point, that the Eagles lost their discipline. Syracuse was also able to plow much of its offense right into the teeth of the Eagles defense. When a team can consistently gain yards right up the middle like that, it is extra deflating. For a defense that, at times, played at a high level this season, BC will have a hard time getting the taste of this one out of its mouth.
— Once both AJ Dillon and Zach Allen came out with injuries, you could see where this game was headed. Not to say that if the Eagles had both Dillon and Allen for the full game, BC would have rallied and won, but those are two of the best players in college football that were sidelined for most of the second half. Dillon did not play the final 30 minutes, as the running back continues to nurse his ankle injury. In the third quarter, it appeared that Allen also suffered an ankle injury, and the defensive end is simply one of the best at his position in the nation. Their absences were felt on both sides of the ball, although one has to figure it might not have mattered too much with the way Syracuse was playing. The aim now for the Eagles is to simply make sure each player is healthy for bowl season.
— BC needs to stop this negative momentum, and a long break before the bowl might be just what this team needs. This loss hurt in a way that is tough to come back from emotionally. The Eagles looked like a team that was out of sorts by the end. It felt like the Florida State defeat bled right into this game. So, with a bowl game on the horizon, the Eagles need to focus on what this team can still accomplish, rather than the opportunities it has missed. Maybe a few weeks off will help in that regard, because right now the team appears to need a serious boost in morale.