Updated: Sep 17, 2019
This was not the way that Boston College wanted to go into its first road game of the season.
The Eagles were supposed to quite easily take care of a Kansas team that had just lost to Coastal Carolina. That's what the fans thought. That's what Vegas thought, too, as BC entered as a 21-point favorite.
The plan was to crush the Jayhawks, then head to New Jersey and do the same to Rutgers in a state where the recruiting footprint for the Eagles is significant.
Welp, the 48-24 loss to the Jayhawks threw those plans out of whack. Now, the Eagles should still beat Rutgers, but after that, what exactly lies ahead for a team that badly needs to show progress after getting stuck on the seven-win mark year after year?
Say BC beats Rutgers. After that, the Eagles take on a Wake Forest team that looks a lot less like a sure win after the Demon Deacons beat North Carolina this past weekend. Don't forget, Wake has a bye this week to prepare for that game against the Eagles.
It's early, but the schedule — outside of trips to Clemson and Notre Dame — remains filled with games that at this point still feel winnable. That said, do you really feel that confident that the Eagles will win those 50-50 games right now?
It does not appear — nor should it — that BC will win all of those games. Kansas just moved the ball too easily to trust this defense. Opponents who can see the deficiencies in the BC run defense are licking their chops right now.
There is no reason to panic, per se. It's just that if you were hoping to see BC take a huge step forward this year, Friday night was a major disappointment. You counted that as a win before the season. So maybe it's time to reset expectations now.
Ditto if you're a UMass fan who saw the 21-point first-quarter outburst at Rutgers opening night a little over two weeks ago.
So what exactly are we looking at? After three blowout losses, the last two to Southern Illinois and Charlotte, the Minutemen are not much better than a Football Championship Subdivision team right now.
That's disheartening for UMass fans, but the top-end wins expectations this year could not have been more than three or four. The reality is that the talent level just isn't where it needs to be yet.
Will that improve? Well, that's the hope. You can't bail on the Walt Bell era yet. That would be silly. He still does not have his players in yet.
But if you're a UMass fan, you just want to see a win. A year without one would be truly disheartening. That said, it is certainly in play.
Harvard gets started next Saturday with a trip to San Diego.
We don't know exactly how they'll look until the actual games start, but the team simply needs to find a little more consistency in the passing game in order to take the next step.
The Crimson are a heavy zone-blocking, run-pass option offense. We feel like the offensive line should be fine, despite replacing some good players, and running back Aaron Shampklin will be one of the best players in the Ivy League.
Regardless of what happens this weekend, we feel the this team can outperform its league projection, as the media poll had the Crimson fourth.
This is a major opportunity for Holy Cross this coming Saturday when the Crusaders head to New Haven to face Yale.
The Bulldogs are receiving 30 votes in the STATS FCS top 25 poll, and Holy Cross three. The Crusaders are coming off a massive win over New Hampshire and a bye week. The trip to New Haven presents an opportunity for this team to make a run at the top 25.
Maybe we are getting ahead of ourselves with the dramatic nature of the UNH victory. Maybe we are falling victim to recency bias. All possible.
But we just like what the Crusaders have going right now. It's very easy to be excited about what coach Bob Chesney is building.
Have to feel good if you're American International after this weekend's 28-23 win over Bentley. This was a game that could have gone either way, and the Yellow Jackets took it with a nice second-half effort.
Quarterback Jayson Demild led the second-half comeback after being down by a field goal at the break, as he threw for a touchdown pass in the third quarter and rushed for another in the fourth.
This coming game with visiting New Haven — which just beat Stonehill Saturday — is probably the best local Northeast-10 matchup of the weekend.
You don't get many bigger wins in the NESCAC than beating Trinity.
Yet, that's exactly what Tufts did on Saturday, 14-8. It came with a huge effort from defensive end Jovan Nenadovic, who made three sacks, five tackles for loss, and nine total to earn the league's defensive player of the week honors.
It's a huge way to start a tough September slate for the Jumbos, who travel to Williams next week and then host Amherst Sept. 28.
With NEPSAC games about to get going this coming weekend, we will release an all-prep team, and eventually get to some rankings.
A quick primer:
— We do think Buckingham, Browne & Nichols is the best team in the Independent School League this season. The Knights are just too good up front to believe otherwise right now.
That said, they're not unbeatable, as their loss to St. Sebastian's last year proved.
— If someone does beat BB&N, we think the leading candidate is Belmont Hill. This team has much of its offensive line back, an electric playmaker in Greg Desrosiers, and wide receiver Blake Brookes is coming back to the sport after not playing his junior season.
— We also like Nobles to be every bit as good as basically anyone in the league, even though it will have a roster on the small side compared to some other teams. It's high on talent, and the overall strength of this team on the lines will overpower a lot of opponents.
— We really don't know what to make of Lawrence Academy and Milton Academy just yet. There have just been so many transfers, and both teams should be improved, we don't know how much. That will play out, though.
— Thayer, Dexter, and Pingree, we feel, should all be about the same. Each team returns some solid talent, and there is decent size up front to work with.
— As for the Class A squads, we feel like Deerfield Academy and Williston-Northampton are the two best this state has to offer. That could certainly change, but right now, that's how we feel. It will be interesting to see how those seasons play out.
No small feat
Out of all the programs we saw this weekend (we got a chance to watch the Fitchburg-West Springfield, Northbridge-Blackstone Valley Tech, and parts of Littleton-Nipmuc and Tantasqua-Shrewsbury), one of the main things that stuck out was how easily Valley Tech reloaded.
The Beavers did not really return a lot from an experience standpoint, but took control of that game early and came away with an impressive win.
This is a Division 7 program in name only. Since Valley Tech is a vocational school, it is playing down, but has with close to 570 boys.
Credit coach Jim Archibald for building this program up over the last decade. Don't expect the Beavers to fall off anytime soon, and a second straight Division 7 state title is not out of the question.