Boston College rallies toward bowl eligibility
Less than a month ago, Boston College had just lost its fifth straight game and thoughts of a 12th straight bowl appearance faded.
But the Eagles rallied from that slump and, on Saturday, would become bowl eligible with a win over Virginia.
''That's where we wanted to be,'' linebacker Mark Herzlich said.
The Eagles (5-5, 3-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) overcame injuries and their longest losing streak since 1998, the last time they didn't go to a bowl. Then, in the fourth game of the season, they turned to inexperienced quarterback Chase Rettig, a freshman.
The postseason prospects seemed dim, ''especially when you get on a roll like that, a negative roll,'' said Herzlich, who has played through the current three-game winning streak with a cast on his broken left hand. ''You're like, we've been working hard, we've been trying hard, what else do we need to do to get a win?''
The Eagles beat Clemson at home, then Wake Forest and Duke on the road to even their record after the poor start.
''It's discouraging at times, but I think it's the same feeling as when you're winning,'' Herzlich said. ''Right now we think and we believe that we're going to win the next two games and I think it's much harder to get in the winning mindset when you've lost five games. But I guess it's kind of a tribute to the guys on the team.''
BC wraps up its season the following Saturday at Syracuse. A 6-6 record would leave the Eagles eligible for a bowl. The San Francisco and Military bowls have been mentioned as possibilities for them.
Virginia (4-6, 1-5 ACC) has lost five of its last seven games. But it upset No. 22 Miami 24-19 for its only conference win, then lost its last two games to Duke and Maryland. The Cavaliers also would become bowl eligible by winning their last two games. They wrap up their season at No. 14 Virginia Tech.
''It's amazing that having a chance to be .500 is still in the realm of possibility,'' said first-year coach Mike London, a former BC assistant, ''but you can't look past a Boston College team that is very, very good. They beat a team (Duke) that we didn't beat.''
Even though the Cavaliers have a shot at a bowl game, London plans to play more young players with an eye toward the future.
BC, which relies primarily on the running of Montel Harris on offense and the play of linebacker Luke Kuechly on defense, has seen Rettig improve with each game.
In the three straight wins, Rettig has gone 33 for 56 for 499 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions. Last week marked his first interception-free game in four weeks.
''One more (win). Two more. Three more, hopefully,'' he said.
Notes: BC has won all four games in the all-time series with Virginia, winning the previous meeting 14-10 last year. ... Both head coaches used to be assistants at the other's school, London spending four years (1997-2000) at BC and Frank Spaziani nine years (1982-90) at Virginia. ... Kuechly, the nation's runaway leader in tackles and tackles per game, made 21 stops last week, his second 20-tackle game of the year. ... Virginia has allowed 97 points during its two-game losing streak. ... BC leads the nation in rush defense. ... Harris is 11th in the country in rushing with 112.9 yards per game.