Last night, the Boston College football team was gifted a large, but deserved, gift. The Eagles received an invitation to the Pinstripe Bowl, in Yankee Stadium, on December 27th. They will take on the Iowa Hawkeyes in a matchup featuring two 7-5 teams, and it will mark the first time the two programs have met.
This was the ideal situation for the Eagles. After starting the year 2-4, hopes for a premier bowl game were out the window, and it would’ve taken a hell of a lot of luck to end up in another big name bowl on New Years Day, the bowls often seen as more prestigious than the still good Pinstripe Bowl. However, the Pinstripe Bowl allows BC to matchup against a well-respected, big program from another Power-5 conference. This creates significant excitement, and leads to higher payouts for the athletic departments.
BC had to hope for a little bit of luck in order for rankings to fall in a manner that led them to earn one of the bowls the ACC dubs as “Tier 1”, but during the College Football Playoff Selection show on Sunday afternoon, that luck panned out. The lack of Ohio State’s earning of a playoff slot, coupled with Wisconsin’s ranking above Auburn (both things this author thinks are how things should have fallen anyway), had down-bowl effects that saw BC being essentially a shoe-in for either the Pinstripe Bowl, or the Sun Bowl out in El Paso.
While the Sun Bowl selected the higher ranked NC State Wolfpack to travel out west for a shot to play Arizona State, BC fans were pulling for the more local Pinstripe to make attending the game significantly easier. The Eagles were in the Pinstripe Bowl just three years ago, where a tragic ending saw BC fall to Penn State. From all accounts though, the game was a blast to attend and fans are eager to get the chance to attend again.
Iowa has been an interesting program this year. The Hawkeyes absolutely slaughtered the eventual Big 10 champion and at the time sixth ranked Ohio State Buckeyes, in a game that kept OSU out of the playoffs, and theoretically got BC into the Pinstripe Bowl later. The Hawkeyes also game one play away from upsetting then fourth ranked Penn State earlier in the season.
The Hawkeyes struggled in some of their other bigger games, but they are certainly a team capable of playing with anybody. As of now, they have a 56.5% chance at winning according to ESPN’s Football Power Index.
The chance to play another big name program, in a fun, local enough environment is the ideal situation that the Eagles could have realistically hoped for at the start of the season. Although I have made it no secret that I had lobbied for the ousting of Steve Addazio, if BC is able to play this game competitively, he has earned coming back to The Heights for a sixth year. The Eagles are 4/5 on making bowl games in his tenure, and have played Power-5 opponents in each matchup. They will be hoping to win a second one of those on December 27th, at Yankee Stadium.