2006 Meineke Car Care Bowl - Navy vs. BC

Posted Dec 14, 2006

2006 Meineke Car Care Bowl - Navy vs. Boston College

Navy (9-3) vs. Boston College (9-3)

Dec. 30, 1:00 p.m. ET, ESPN

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Win one for the Spaz.

Can Navy finally end out doubts that its offense can rumble against just about anyone? Can Boston College prove that life will go on without head coach Tom O'Brien? Can the Eagles play hard enough on defense to keep Coach Spaz around?

Green Bay assistant coach Jeff Jagodzinski will take over for O'Brien, but he hasn't named his coaching staff yet and the players are making a push for defensive coordinator, and interim head coach, Frank Sapiani to stay. Close down the Navy attack with an inspired performance and the players might get their wish.

National Rankings
Boston College Navy
Total Offense
47th  357.42 ypg 30th  381.33 ypg
Total Defense
29th  303.17 ypg 64th  336.83 ypg
Scoring Offense
46th  26.08 ppg 33rd  28.58 ppg
Scoring Defense
13th  15 ppg 40th  19.67 ppg
Run Offense
88th  116.33 ypg 1st  327.42 ypg
Run Defense
13th  303.17 ypg 41st  120.33 ypg
Pass Offense
25th  241.08 ypg 119th  53.92 ypg
Pass Defense
79th  213.08 ypg 84th  216.50 ypg
Turnover Margin
2nd  1.25 52nd  0.08
Boston Coll
at CMU W 31-24
Clem. W 34-33 2OT
W 30-23 2OT
at NC State L 17-15
Maine W 22-0
Va Tech W 22-3
at Fla St W 24-19
W 41-0
at W Forest L 21-14
W 28-7
Maryland W 38-16
at Miami L 17-14
E Carolina W 28-23
Mass. W 21-20
at Stanford W 37-9
Tulsa L 24-23
at Conn. W 41-17
at Air Force W 24-17
Rutgers L 34-0
Notre Dame L 38-14
at Duke W 38-13
at EMU W 49-21
Temple W 42-6
vs. Army W 26-14
Position Ratings
relative to each other
BC 5 highest
1 lowest
5 Quarterbacks 5
3.5 RBs 4
3.5 Receivers 1.5
3.5 O Line 3.5
4 D Line 3
4 Linebackers 3
3.5 Secondary 3
3.5 Spec Teams 3
3 Coaching 5

Considering everything O'Brien did to get the program to its highly consistent status, it's a shame he's already off to NC State for what might be the team's first ten-win season since 1984. As is, his Eagles cranked out their third nine-win season in a row and fourth in five years while coming agonizingly close to playing for the ACC title.

Matt Ryan threw for 402 yards in a loss to Wake Forest, Daniel Evans threw a last-second touchdown pass in NC State's 17-15 win over BC, and Miami won an emotional 17-14 regular season finale. Along the way, there were two wins in double-overtime thrillers over Clemson and BYU, a road win over Florida State, and a huge day from the defense in a key win over Maryland.

Navy has become so consistent it's easy to forget how amazing the current run is. Looking for its second ten-win season in three years, Navy and the nation's number one rushing offense will be looking for its best win over the year by far.

Athletically and talent-wise, Navy doesn't even belong on the same field as BC, but with the execution of the offense, and the gritty play of the D, it has a shot to make a big statement in what would be the biggest win of Johnson's tenure. Fantastic in its last two bowl games, the Midshipmen have to hope the BC coaching change will be a distraction and the Eagles will come in a bit overconfident.

The Midshipmen beat the average teams like East Carolina, Stanford and Connecticut, but got stomped on in the two prove-it games getting outscored by Notre Dame and Rutgers 72-14. Unfortunately for Navy, BC provides a nasty matchup.

The Eagles only allowed 90 rushing yards per game, was second in the nation in turnover margin, and has an effective, efficient passing attack going against a middling Midshipmen secondary. On paper, BC should win this without breaking a sweat, but strange things have been known to happen in bowl games.

This could either be the ultimate chance to prove the option can work at a high level, or it'll show that Navy just can't break though the ceiling.

Players to watch: Boston College would like to use the running game to grind it out, but the passing attack should be more effective against a Navy pass rush might be non-existent against the strong Eagle offensive line. That means junior QB Matt Ryan, who likely would've been the the ACC Player of the Year had the Eagle gone to the title game, should go ballistic. A great decision maker with a nice arm and good accuracy, Ryan has been a steady leader and playmaker all season long. He epitomized the overused term "manage the game" and is fantastic at putting the ball in places where his receivers can make plays.

Speaking of managing a game, Ryan's counterpart, QB
Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, has to be nearly flawless. Stepping in when starter Brian Hampton got knocked out for the season, the sophomore struggled early getting thrown to the wolves against Rutgers and Notre Dame, and then started to figure out what he was doing and got the offense moving helped by a 119-yard rushing day against Duke and 140 yards against Temple.

Kaheaku-Enhada will have to be even better than he was over the second half of the year with star fullback Adam Ballard out after breaking his leg against Army. Without him, Navy doesn't have nearly the inside presence it might like unless Matt Hall and Eric Kettani can be effective. Hall saw plenty of action before Ballard emerged in 2005 and is hardly new to the position. While not the pounder Ballard is, Hall can be effective. Kettani, a sophomore, is the star of the future and could use a breakout performance to prove to the coaching staff that he's a runner to revolve the option around.

BC's hopes likely rest on the shoulders, and the tackling ability, of linebackers Brian Toal, Jolonn Dunber and Tyrone Pruitt. The defensive tackles are good enough to stuff the inside running game, so it'll be up to the linebacking trio to be patient, disciplined, and make plays on the outside. Three yard runs are fine; consistent seven, eight, ten yard gains won't be.

Boston College will win if... it's run defense plays like it has all season long while the offense limits the turnovers. BC hasn't allowed more than 170 rushing yards all season long having the most problems with effective passers. Navy has the worst passing attack in America and will rely on the run even if it's not going anywhere. With several weeks to practice and prepare, the Eagle defensive front seven should be ready, even with the coaching change, so as long as the offense doesn't make give Navy several breaks, this should be an easy win. Getting up by two scores early might spark a blowout.

Navy will win if... the Eagles aren't focused. If the linebackers overpursue and try to make every play, if Ryan isn't sharp, and if the team just assumes it can just show up thinking "it's just Navy," this might be close. Everything has to click for the Midshipmen and everything has to be precise. .Time of possession, turnover margin, everything has to be nearly perfect. Defensively, it'll all start by holding up against the run. If BC is cranking out yards in chunks, forget about it. Ryan is too good as is without having to force the offense. Offensively, Kaheaku-Enhada needs to quickly read what BC's tendencies are and he has to get the ball to his outside runners where they can do something with it.

What will happen: What stops a great option offense? Talented linebackers. The BC defensive front seven has been fantastic all season long holding Clemson's fantastic ground game to just 136 yards and keeping Wake Forest to 160. Navy might get 200, but it's not going to get the 350 it'll need to pull off the upset. BC will be too athletic, too strong on both lines, and too fired up to fight through the coaching change to not get the win.

Line: Boston College -7 ... CFN Prediction: Boston College 31 ... Navy 14