BOSTON (AP) Back-to-back losses to Louisville and Florida State left Boston College struggling for wins and in danger of finishing last in the Atlantic Coast Conference for a second straight year.
Just one week later, after a 30-0 victory over Connecticut , the Eagles (5-6, 1-6 ACC) are suddenly on the verge of a bowl berth and talking about a program on the rise.
''The vibe is outstanding, and nothing is going to kill that vibe right now,'' coach Steve Addazio said Monday as he looked ahead to this weekend's game against Wake Forest. ''To go win this game and get to a bowl game buys us more time, buys us continued momentum. But nothing is going to stop that from growing right now. They've seen that and tasted that. Now they know it.''
Boston College won just three games last season - only one against an FBS opponent, and none in the ACC. The Eagles won three of their first five games this year - beating Wagner, Massachusetts and Buffalo - but continued to struggle in the conference.
Despite a 21-14 victory over North Carolina State on Oct. 29 that snapped a 12-game league losing streak, BC lost to Virginia Tech, Clemson, Louisville and Florida State by a combined score of 202-24. So when the Eagles walked away from Saturday's game with a fifth victory and a chance to play in the postseason, it was more than just another win.
With a win over Wake Forest on Saturday, BC would be bowl eligible with a 6-6 record.
''It's a goal you set in the beginning of the year,'' Addazio said. ''It's one that's still alive, and it's a marker because it's a marker for success and then it's a marker for growth and development. I think it's huge. All college football players, I mean, coaches, everybody, that's what we talk about: Get to a bowl; get to a bowl.''
Even with a loss, the Eagles could reach the postseason.
There are 18 teams still playing for bowl eligibility, with 16 spots available. If fewer than 16 of the five-win teams come up with a sixth this weekend, schools that finish 5-7 will be picked for the remaining bowl berths based on their Academic Progress Rate.
BC is fourth among the 18 in APR, behind Northwestern, Vanderbilt and North Texas.
In other words, the Eagles have a good chance.
''Getting back to a bowl game, it would mean a lot to the program, to elevate the program to where it needs to be,'' linebacker John Johnson said this weekend.
Another advantage of reaching a bowl would be the extra weeks of practice that are allowed for teams that are still playing, Addazio said. With his young team, it would be a huge boost to get ready for next year.
''There is a lot of young football here to mature,'' he said. ''We've got to go fight to buy those weeks. ... Those weeks mean a lot to every single program. Every head coach will tell that you.''
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