In mid-August BC players and coaches convened on the floor of Conte Forum to meet with the media and answer questions about the upcoming 2004 football season, the Eagles' final campaign in the Big East Conference.
There was a common theme throughout the afternoon: the Big East, without Miami and Virginia Tech who both already left to join the ACC, was BC's for the taking. Most players admitted that even though the team's goal was to win every year, the conference title was far more attainable in '04 than it has ever been.
But one game presented a major stumbling block: the trip to West Virginia, where even the great Doug Flutie never won in his BC career.
"The road to the BCS goes through West Virginia," said senior wide receiver Grant Adams on that Friday in August.
On Saturday, the Eagles went through Morgantown, West Virginia like a maroon tornado and emerged as the odds-on favorite to walk away with the Big East title in their farewell campaign.
Senior quarterback Paul Peterson paced the Eagles with two first-half touchdown passes, adding another notch to his impressive belt of road victories that includes Blacksburg and South Bend. He moved his record to 10-2 as a starter over the past two seasons.
The BC special teams were the story, however, as freshman cornerback DeJuan Tribble returned a punt 41 yards for a score with 4:41 remaining in the first quarter to put the Eagles up by two touchdowns. More importantly, it silenced the boisterous Morgantown crowd.
Freshman Ryan Ohliger drilled three field goals on the day, besting his career-long twice with kicks of 44 and 47 yards.
And junior Will Blackmon, who battled through a 104 fever and did not practice during the week, salted the game away with a dazzling 71-yard punt return for a score that evoked memories of his idol, Deion Sanders.
Add to that the 43-yard kickoff return by freshman linebacker Brian Toal late in the fourth quarter and the 76-yard punt by freshman Johnny Ayers, and the BC special teams had arguably its best game of the Tom O'Brien era.
The defense bent but didn't break, allowing only 17 points while the Mountaineers controlled the ball for 35 minutes and rolled up over 450 yards of total offense. Junior defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka recorded two sacks, bringing his conference-leading total to eight.
When the dust settled, the Eagles had scored over 30 points for the first time this year in a 36-17 romp over the Mountaineers. And despite the ill-informed musings of ABC commentators Gary Thorne and Ed Cunningham, BC controls their own destiny as far as the Big East and the BCS are concerned.
The Eagles, who have never finished higher than third in the Big East, would win the conference with victories over Temple and Syracuse in the next two weeks. BC would then earn an automatic spot in the Bowl Championship Series, where they would likely travel to the Fiesta Bowl.
Next year the Eagles open up play in the Atlantic Coast Conference. They hope to be wearing their Fiesta Bowl sweatpants and Big East Championship t-shirts when Spring practice begins.
Michael Chevallier is the publisher of EagleInsider.com. He can be reached at EagleInsiderGuru@aol.com.