Boston College survived play in the ACC, getting their record to 6-6 and into a bowl game for the first time in the Jeff Hafley era. BC made the Military Bowl primarily due to their 4-0 start to the season, as the Eagles limped to a 2-6 finish.East Carolina snapped a six-year bowl drought with their 7-5 regular season. Unlike Boston College, the Pirates finished strong with wins in four of their last five games – the only loss coming to undefeated Cincinnati (35-13), who is in the College Football Playoff.
Something to Build on for BC
Hafley has steered the Eagles to a bowl berth in his second year with the program, with the chance to finish the season on a high note after suffering some doldrums over the past couple of months. Boston College breezed through their non-conference schedule to a 4-0 start but hit a wall once ACC play got underway.
BC lost six of their final eight games this season, mainly because their offense went in the tank, being held to 17 points or less six times over the last eight weeks. East Carolina can throw the football, so Eagles QB Phil Jurkovec needs a better showing than 3-for-11 for 19 yards with one TD and two INT like he had in the 41-10 loss to Wake Forest in the regular season finale.
Jurkovec has battled injuries for a large part of the year, so maybe having a month off before the Military Bowl will help the junior quarterback.
Big Challenge for East Carolina’s Ahlers
Pirates quarterback Holton Ahlers has already announced that he’ll return for his fifth year with the program in the 2022 season, so the Military Bowl isn’t a swan song but a look towards the future for East Carolina. That has to bring some optimism following a 7-5 season that included the nation’s 23rd best passing attack that averaged 271.0 yards per game this season.
Unfortunately for East Carolina, their passing offense works right into the strength of the Boston College defense, which ranked fourth in the country, allowing just 173.5 YPG through the air. Even so, Ahlers is an elite talent whose 3,129 passing yards were the 23rd most in the country. Ahlers is experienced too, with the Military Bowl being the 43rd game he’s appeared in.
Boston College vs. East Carolina Pick
One would think Boston College is more battle-tested playing in the ACC, but East Carolina has also had some tough challenges in the American Athletic Conference. They didn’t put up much of a fight against #4 Cincinnati but went to OT in a loss at #20 Houston and only fell 20-16 at UCF, who is playing Florida in the Gasparilla Bowl.
Ultimately, the Pirates offense is better than Boston College’s, which struggles to reach 20 points. The Eagles’ offense may get some in this spot against an East Carolina defense that gives up 26.3 PPG, but it won’t be enough.