Before you get too excited about the Eagles' 6-1 start, remember: They had the same record going into their eighth game last season. Back then, BC was ranked 12th in the BCS, was 3-1 in the conference, and were preparing to make a trip down to Virginia Tech to take on the third-ranked Hokies on a Thursday night.
So why does it feel so different this year, so much better? First of all, the Eagles are not traveling to Blacksburg this week, they're just scrimmaging at Alumni – er, they're hosting Buffalo.
Second, three of the four biggest tests of the season are already behind them, and they've passed every one (Clemson, Virginia Tech, Florida State, with Miami still looming). That's not to say there weren't other tests along the way (they failed miserably at NC State) and that a game like "at Wake Forest" doesn't pose a challenge, but before the season started, when the team looked at the schedule, it knew that the bouts with the Big Four were the swing games.
Lastly, Matt Ryan. No need to be tempted down the stretch to start a guy that just looks like a good QB (ahem, Quinton Porter), the Eagles have a bona fide leader – albeit kind of a scrawny one – who will play through pain, pick up his teammates in the locker room, and, above all else, win.
Besides, Ryan and his boys control their own destiny, to quote a stupid sports cliché. They can win out – suddenly, that's not looking too difficult – and still hold the head-to-head edge over Clemson for the Atlantic Division win, ensuring a trip to Jacksonville for the ACC Championship Game. Still, optimism has not leant itself too kindly to BC fans in recent years and that Wake Forest game is looking scarier by the minute, so let's not get ahead of ourselves. Let's just focus on Buffalo, as Tom O'Brien would suggest.
...when asked Wednesday if the comparison can be made. Gonzalez also talked about the stuff Ryan does when he's not on the field that makes him similar to Brady: "He's very vocal, he just corrects things that may be wrong or that he may see as wrong, and, just everything, he keeps order in our locker room."
227 - Rushing yards allowed per game by the Bulls of Buffalo.
113 – Rushing yards gained per game by BC, just ninth in the conference. It will be nice to boost that average on Saturday when the Eagles' monsters up front take on the apparent Swiss cheese d-line of the Bulls.
272 – Yards rushing gained by BC in the two teams' last meeting, when the Eagles stampeded Buffalo 65-12 in 1970. Saturday's game will be the eighth time the teams square off and every game will have been held at Alumni Stadium. Poor Buffalo.
"To be honest, I'm not even sure who we play after Buffalo." – Nick Larkin
Yeah, sure, Nick. Larkin wins the eloquence award every week. He seems to be the smartest, most clear-headed, and most mature member of the team. He always says the right thing, but manages to do it convincingly and comfortably. He'll surely be a captain next year. In this case, though, he's just a liar. Everyone knows that Wake is right around the corner.
7 – Number of true freshmen who have seen time this year, which O'Brien says is the most ever under his reign. O'Brien has always talked up this year's recruiting class and he seems to be right. Despite not landing any big names, BC's class of 2010 is full of guys who just know how to play, which means a lot on an O'Brien-led squad. The list includes Alex Albright, Wes Davis, Jack Geiser, Mark Herzlich, Justin Jarvis, Roderick Rollins, and Jeff Smith. My MVP of the class so far? Herzlich, with apologies to Davis, the runner-up.
3 – Number of true freshmen who saw time last year, or at least didn't use up their eligibility. This list includes Paul Anderson, Jim Ramella, and Garrett Seeger, who was a "valuable member of the scout team." The consensus: The Eagles will have a pretty good core group of young players for the next few years.
"A lot of guys came up to me and commented on how long me and Coach O'Brien talked, which was about 45 seconds, that might have been the longest conversation we've had all season [laughs]. I guess I gotta make some more good plays and we'll talk a little longer [laughs]." – Wes Davis…
…on his talk with O'Brien during the FSU game, after Davis recovered a fumble and returned it to the one-yard line in the second quarter. See, the freshmen are already winning over their unflappable coach.
8.5 – Combined number of sacks by Austin Giles and Kevin Akins. Giles is fourth in the conference with four-and-a-half and Akins is right behind him with four. The man at the top of the list has 8.5 all by his lonesome, the great Gaines Adams. Unfortunately, he couldn't get any against the great Jim Marten when Clemson came to Chestnut Hill.
And I leave you with Larry Anam's dramatic description of his even-more dramatic interception that sealed the win over FSU…
"When I jumped up to look for the ball, I saw his hand, so I just tried to swat it down. That's when – him trying to pull it in and me trying to swat it down made the ball go down and I kinda just…grabbed it." – Larry Anam