In what can only be described as the ultimate upset, our very own Boston College Eagles withstood the nation’s ninth ranked team, the Trojans of the University of Southern California. The absolute pandemonium in the student section that ensued after the 66-yard touchdown run by Tyler Murphy followed a fantastic four quarters of cheering and support that let America know Boston College takes its football seriously. Some games are forever remembered at major college football programs, and this will be one of those games here at Boston College.
This was BC’s first win against a top ten team, while being unranked, since a 2002 victory against fourth ranked Notre Dame. Entering the game as 19-point underdogs, Boston College relied on their rush offense to put points on the board, and put forth an absolutely superhuman effort stopping the run on the defensive side of the football.
A week after allowing over 300 rushing yards in a hard-to-watch loss to Pittsburgh, the BC rush defense did a complete 180 and held USC to a mere 20 rush yards on 29 carries. On the offensive end, the Eagles put up a staggering 452 rush yards that they paired with 5 rushing touchdowns. The ground game for Boston College was impossible for the Trojans to deal with, and the Eagles’ run defense made the USC offense one-dimensional and largely ineffective.
The six sacks on USC quarterback Cody Kessler, which resulted in a net of negative 30 yards, were absolutely crucial in thwarting the high-powered USC offense. Senior linebacker Josh Keyes played phenomenally, tallying five and a half tackles for a loss, one of which was a key sack late in the game. Junior cornerback Bryce Jones made fantastic tackles and plays in coverage throughout the game, keeping the outside of the field as secure as the middle.
The stars of the game were without question the members of the Boston College backfield. Myles Willis and Jon Hilliman had 89 yards each, with Hilliman contributing two touchdowns as well. Freshman standout Sherman Alston had the go-ahead touchdown late in the second quarter when he ran for 54 yards on a perfectly designed and executed end around pitch play. The speed that the freshman showed was spectacular, and the momentum on the field was clearly in BC’s favor the rest of the night after that play.
The standout of the backfield on the night though, was QB Tyler Murphy. Murphy, whose struggles in the passing game continued throughout the game, was able to showcase his abilities as a runner though by taking 13 carries for 191 yards. His most notable run of the night was the 66-yard touchdown run that he broke with three and a half minutes left in the fourth quarter. This play largely solidified a Boston College victory, and will be engrained in highlight tapes and memories for decades to come. Murphy’s work running the read option was fantastic throughout the night; his slight of hand combined with his quick feet were the key reasons the Eagle offense was able to put 452 rushing yards on the stat sheet. Murphy is still very far from being the polished passer that the Eagles will undoubtedly need him to be later this season, but his ability as a runner are top rate among college football’s starting QB’s.
The magnitude of this upset cannot be overstated. This was the first Boston College win against a top ten team, at all, since the days of Matt Ryan when the second-ranked Eagles beat #8 Virginia Tech. It’s been a long time since BC has won a truly big-time football game, and it is wins like these that can help build a truly great program.
The fact that this victory came not only on a nationally televised ESPN primetime game, but was on the same night where Boston College honored its fallen 9/11 hero Welles Crowther made it even more special. A highlight of the night was when the Crowther family came onto the field to be greeted by the loudest cheers Alumni Stadium produced the entirety of the game. Welles’s legacy has clearly not been forgotten, and this celebration for his life couldn’t have gone in a more spectacular way. BC student, whether past or present, won’t forget this win anytime soon.
Photos courtesy of Winslow Townson, ESPN.com/Getty Images