College Football Countdown: No. 93 Minnesota

The Orlando Sentinel has ranked all 120 Football Bowl Subdivision teams in the country. The Sentinel staff will take a closer look at a new team daily, counting backward from No. 120 to our projected No. 1 team. We will not be including the four teams the


lists as still reclassifying to the Football Bowl Subdivision level.

Today at No. 94:

Boston College


Frank Spaziani (20-19, fourth season)

2011 record:

4-8 (3-5 in

Atlantic Coast Conference

, ninth in ACC)

Look back:

The 2011 season ended on a high note for the


, after going on the road and knocking off


, 24-17, in the year’s final game. It was the perfect send-off for now former linebacker

Luke Kuechly

, who was drafted last month by the

Carolina Panthers

in the first round of the

NFL Draft

. In many ways, the win also was the perfect summation for the season that had just passed. The week before, Boston College dropped a close contest to non-conference rival

Notre Dame

, 16-14. The week before that, the Eagles nipped a surging

North Carolina State

team by four. Finally, as the year was coming to an end, they were showing promise. But earlier losses to


(by 27; the Knights finished with just five wins),


(the Blue Devils finished with three wins), Northwestern and

Florida State

(by 31) made the year feel more like a failure than a year of hope.

Offensive starters lost/returning:


Defensive starters lost/returning:


Key losses:

LB Luke Kuechly, RB Montel Harris, DE Max Holloway, CB

Donnie Fletcher

, P Ryan Quigley

Top returnees:

QB Chase Rettig, WR Bobby Swigert, TE Chris Pantale, WR Coin Larmond, RB Rolandan Finch, RT Emmett Cleary, LB Kevin Pierre-Louie, DE Kasim Edebali, PK Nate Freese


With the quarterback-receiver tandem of Rettig, Swigert, Larmond and Pantale coming back this fall, the Eagles appear set in the passing game. Last season, Rettig threw for more than 1,900 yards and had 12 touchdowns. What could bolster the Eagles’ pass offense even more, is if they get a strong attack from the ground game this season. If there is any area of the team that is currently an uncertainty, it is Boston College’s rushing offense. The announced offseason departure of a presumably healthy Harris had many around the ACC scratching their heads. Projected to be last season’s conference player of the year, Harris was a sturdy tailback who could have helped bring stability to the Eagles’ offense.


As a result of Harris’ departure, it could be easy to consider Boston College’s running game an area of weakness. Senior Rolandan Finch hopes to convince the nation otherwise. Last season, in Harris’ absence from a near-season long injury, Finch led all Boston College ballcarriers with 705 yards rushing.

While the rushing game may — or may not — be a weakness for the Eagles, their defense does appear to be an area of concern. The departure of the nation’s reigning tackle leader, Kuechly (191), means the Eagles have quite a tall task awaiting them on that side of the ball. How well can they replace Kuechly? Will it be a collective effort? Or can one single player step up and fill his void? Those are the biggest question marks for Boston College’s defense entering this season. Despite having Kuechly, the Eagles still ranked 11


in the ACC in sacks, tackles for loss and passing defense. They were sixth in rushing defense.


Boston College can have a successful season, but all of that will rest on how well the Eagles run the ball and defend opposing offenses. The departure of Kuechly leaves a major hole in the middle of their defense. Can the play well without him? Absolutely. Seven 2011 starters return on that side of the ball this season. Boston College’s schedule could be the key, though, to whether or not a bowl appearance is in the cards. Road games at FSU,

Georgia Tech


Wake Forest

and North Carolina State will not be easy. Home games with


, Notre Dame and

Virginia Tech

won’t be cakewalks, either. By the end of September, the Eagles should have a clear understanding of where they stand and what type of team they will be.

2012 Schedule

Sept. 1 Miami

Sept. 8 Maine

Sept. at Northwestern

Sept. 29 Clemson

Oct. 6 at Army

Oct. 13 at Florida State

Oct. 20 at Georgia Tech

Oct. 27


Nov. 3 at Wake Forest

Nov. 10 Notre Dame

Nov. 17 Virginia Tech

Nov. 24 at North Carolina State

Rest of the countdown: