Last week, Boston College secured their bowl eligibility with a 41-34 win over the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. BC technically achieved bowl eligibility last season. However, with the team ravaged by injuries, Jeff Hafley elected to decline any bowl invitations to give the players the opportunity to go home and enjoy winter break with their families. Many fans expected the Eagles to make a high-quality bowl game this season, ideally one in a warm-weather location.
Unfortunately, the injury bug reared its ugly head once again. Phil Jurkovec missed the majority of the season with a broken hand/wrist, neutering the offense and sending BC down a four-game losing skid. But even when Jurkovec returned, players on the defense started dropping like flies. Isaiah Graham-Mobley, Brandon Sebastian, Jason Maitre, Jahmin Muse, and Josh DeBerry all missed time over the last few weeks, with Maitre and Muse lost for the season. With a disappointing loss to Florida State and a tough matchup against likely-ACC Atlantic champion Wake Forest looming on Saturday, Boston College’s bowl possibilities are shrinking and they are becoming less attractive.
Nevertheless, there are several bowl games that the Eagles could slot into. Regardless of the outcome of Saturday’s matchup, the handful of bowl games that BC could qualify for looks familiar to the fanbase. Some of these games will be repeat visits for Boston College. So let’s dive into where the Eagles could be playing in late December.
Gasparilla Bowl: Tampa, Florida, December 23rd, 7:00 PM ESPN (AAC/ACC/SEC)
Formerly known as the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl, the now boringly-named Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl features some combination of American Athletic, Atlantic Coast, and Southeastern Conference teams. However, in the 12 times this game has been played, it has only featured a Power Five team twice (four times if you include Rutgers and Louisville when they were in the Big East). More often, this team has featured a team from the American and a team from Conference USA or the Mid-American Conference. Given that the ACC will most likely not get a team into the playoff or even into the New Year’s Six games, that should shift all the teams down a slot. With BC’s loss to Florida State, it looks more like they’ll finish 6-6 rather than 7-5, so this game could be a realistic destination for the Eagles now.
Military Bowl: Annapolis, Maryland, December 27th, 2:30 PM ESPN (ACC vs. AAC)
This is a bowl I spent many years pining for BC to attend. As I was living in Pennsylvania, making the trip down to Maryland would be a nice easy drive. Playing the game on an actual football field instead of a frozen baseball tundra (more on that later) would also have been a nice bonus. Obviously, Annapolis is not the most glamorous of destinations, especially when compared to New York or some of the other cities coming up. But it’s a good location for actually getting fans and alumni to the game. Furthermore, it provides BC with an opponent that they can realistically defeat. I think this is now BC’s most likely bowl destination, assuming they lose to Wake Forest on Saturday.
First Responder Bowl: Dallas, Texas, December 28th, 3:15 PM ESPN (AAC/ACC/Big 12)
I can’t imagine many BC fans are excited to see this bowl on the lineup. After the game was canceled in 2018 due to lightning when BC had jumped out to an early 7-0 lead, nobody really wanted anything to do with this game again. The game has since moved from the Cotton Bowl to Gerald J. Ford Stadium at SMU, so at least the stadium will be somewhat nicer. Even though SMU is located in a very nice area of Dallas, I don’t believe many Boston College fans would make that trek to see them play a middling Big 12 or average AAC school. However, travel might not be as big a factor for this next bowl, given its location and climate.
Holiday Bowl: San Deigo, California, December 28th, 8:00 PM FOX (ACC vs. Pac-12)
This is a bowl that I would love for BC to get to, even though it’s in a baseball stadium. Obviously, it’s probably the worst possible bowl location for the Eagles’ fanbase. But this is a primetime matchup with a marquee opponent in a very unique locale. It would allow BC to play an unfamiliar opponent while getting great national exposure. Granted, it would be quite the journey for BC’s fans. But who wouldn’t want to leave chilly New England for a few days in San Diego in the middle of winter?
Fenway Bowl: Boston, Massachusetts, December 29th, 11:00 AM ESPN (ACC/Notre Dame vs. AAC)
Even with BC stumbling towards the finish line, this bowl is still very much in the cards for the Eagles. This game was basically created for the sole purpose of shuttering BC away and allowing more prestigious programs to attend bowls in better locations. While it is nice that the Eagles get a de facto home-field advantage for this game, it’s unfavorable for many other reasons. First, playing football games on baseball fields is objectively terrible. The orientation and sidelines are weird and the turf is always of poor quality. Second, part of the allure of bowl games is going to a different and ideally warmer locale. Leaving BC to freeze in the depths of the New England winter is somewhat unfair. Third, and I know I’m gonna upset some people here, Fenway Park is a terrible venue for watching sporting events. The stadium is historic, I understand that. But the seats are small and uncomfortable, especially on a cold winter day; additionally, the sightlines to the field (unless you’re on the Monster) are terrible, even if they aren’t blocked by poles. At the end of the day, BC will probably need to win at least eight games a year to get out of the Fenway Bowl in the foreseeable future.
Pinstripe Bowl: New York, New York, December 29th, 2:15 PM ESPN (ACC vs. Big Ten)
Here is another bowl game with very few happy memories for Boston College fans, especially yours truly. On one hand, the bowls try to not repeat schools in bowls. On the other hand, BC is technically overdue for an appearance in the Bronx. Obviously, this is a great location for BC’s fanbase and provides a cool travel opportunity, especially for a team that is fully vaccinated. There’s a slight chance that this game could be a rematch of the 2014 Pinstripe Bowl. Regardless, I think BC finishing the season on two consecutive losses, dropping them to 6-6, might actually prevent them from heading to New York for a bowl game.