Nearly three decades removed from his college playing days, Doug Flutie still says “we” as often as he says “they” when he’s talking about Boston College.
“Did you honestly think we were going to give Florida State a fit?” Flutie asked rhetorically, referring to BC’s 48-34 loss to then-No. 8 FSU two weeks ago, during a recent phone conversation to promote the Capital One mascot challenge. “Do I think BC is gonna beat [No. 3 Clemson]? Probably not. But, I mean, every year upsets happen.”
Flutie is a college football analyst for NBC Sports these days, with a focus on Notre Dame, so he watches a lot of games. But he’ll always have a special place in his heart for his alma mater, and he’s liked what he’s seen of the Eagles in 2013.
“They played ‘em toe to toe,” Flutie said of the Week 5 matchup with the Seminoles.
Maybe the Noles were looking ahead to their meeting with then-undefeated Maryland, or maybe not. Either way, it’s probably safe to say the game in Chestnut Hill didn’t start exactly the way they wanted.
“They had a rude awakening in the first quarter of that game and then it was like, ‘Holy mackerel,’ ” Flutie said. “It took them a while to get rolling. ... I don’t know anymore when it comes to college football. Maryland was up and coming and looking like a team that’s gonna give Florida State a fit. And then it’s 63-0 [FSU over Maryland in Week 6]. So BC should go beat Maryland now, right? That doesn’t happen.”
Flutie said the transitive property does not appear to apply in college football anymore. Just because Team A beat Team B and Team B beat Team C doesn’t mean Team A will beat Team C.
“I don’t think Clemson’s on another level from FSU, I think they’re on the same type of level,” Flutie said. “I don’t think we’re gonna surprise anybody anymore. Clemson’s just darn good. But I think we can give them a fight. I think any given day you’ve got a shot. You’ve gotta play your best football.
“For Boston College to knock off Florida State, for Boston College to knock off Clemson, you need [the other team to make] a couple mistakes,” he said.
The 1984 Heisman Trophy winner said teams can force opponents into mistakes through an aggressive approach.
Few teams have taken better care of the football this season than Clemson (5-0, 3-0 ACC). The Tigers are tied for second in the country with a 1.80 turnover margin. They have 13 turnovers gained (four fumbles and nine interceptions) and just four lost (two fumbles and two interceptions).
Boston College (3-2, 1-1 ACC) has had pretty good ball security, as well, with eight turnovers gained (three fumbles recovered and five interceptions) and only four turnovers committed (one fumble lost and three interceptions). The Eagles’ turnover margin of 0.80 is tied for 28th nationally and tied for fourth in the ACC.
Against an explosive offense like the one the Tigers run, the Eagles can’t afford to lose the turnover game. They need to win that one to give themselves a shot at winning Saturday’s matchup (3:30 p.m. ET on ABC/ESPN2).
“Turnovers, you make those breaks for yourself,” Flutie said. “Get in [Tajh] Boyd’s face, hit him a few times, create a turnover or two and create some momentum and you never know what could happen.”
Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.