Eagles just looking for a win
A loss to Maryland on Saturday will officially end BC's bowl hopes
NEWTON, Mass. -- It all comes down to this.
Perhaps that's a bit dramatic, but if the Eagles don't win their game against Maryland (3 p.m., ESPN3) in College Park on Saturday, their streak of 12 consecutive seasons ending with a berth in a bowl game will end. That streak is the seventh longest active in the country and the longest in school history, but another loss will make BC 1-7 and seal a losing season for the first time in more than a decade.
Of course, even if they win Saturday the Eagles are far from guaranteed to extend the streak. But at least they'll still have a chance.
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To hear them talk, the Eagles aren't really thinking about bowl games or winning seasons at the moment. They're just focusing on winning one game, the next game, and getting off the three-game losing streak they're on.
Unfortunately, Maryland's on the same streak and will be just as motivated to get off it.
Not that the Eagles have the luxury of looking at any opponent like an easy W these days.
"I think each week is a great opportunity to win," linebacker Luke Kuechly said before practice Wednesday. "You only get guaranteed 12 games, so you might as well make the best of each week. I go into each week, I think we all go into each week with one goal in our mind and that's to win.
"I don't think anyone cares who we play, where we play," he said. "What can we do to win? That's everyone's mindset going into this week."
On paper, it would seem the Eagles and Terrapins are a good match. The Eagles struggle on offense (last in ACC in scoring with 18.7 points per game) and the Terrapins struggle on defense (last in ACC in scoring defense with 31.4 points allowed per game). But the statistics may be skewed a bit by Maryland's habit of getting into shootouts with opponents.
Randy Edsall's crew has lost games 37-31 to West Virginia, 56-45 to Clemson and 41-16 to Florida State, and got one of its two wins in a 32-24 slugfest with Miami.
"Statistically they haven't been that good but on film they're good. They've just had a couple of tough games," BC right tackle Emmett Cleary said. "They've got plenty of speed and they move a lot. We just need to be prepared and really understand what the defense is trying to do and be able to hit things on the fly when they're moving and blitzing."
Like BC, Maryland's also had more than its share of injuries to deal with. At one time or another, the Terps have had as many as seven starters sidelined.
Junior defensive lineman Joe Vellano hasn't been sidelined, has two fumble recoveries and is tied for the most tackles per game by a lineman in the FBS with 7.4, and the Eagles know they'll have to watch out for him.
Cleary will be ready.
"This always kinda ends up as a real physical, knock-down, drag-out game," he said of BC-Maryland. "And as an offensive lineman that's the type of game I prefer. Let's just try to move the ball on the ground, chew up clock and go."
Rolandan "Deuce" Finch would be fine with that. The sophomore -- who's emerged as BC's lead back in recent weeks, after injuries sidelined Montel Harris and Andre Williams -- enjoys the physical aspects of his job.
"We just have to keep it stout up front and just move the people," he said. "We gotta move the people and get on 'em, and I think if we get on 'em I think we can do a good job."
Edsall figures to attempt to do the same thing Frank Spaziani & co would like to do: run the ball, control the clock and keep the opposing offense off the field.
Led by 2,000-yard rusher Davin Meggett and, in recent weeks, quarterback C.J. Brown, the Terps have averaged 198.5 rushing yards in their past four games, and overall are at 168.3 a game this season.
"Maryland's got speed; everyone in the ACC's got speed," Kuechly said. "They can get to the edge."
Brown set a school record with 162 rushing yards against Clemson, and also threw three TD passes in that game. But after Brown had to leave the FSU game following a helmet-to-helmet hit, it's unclear whether he or Danny O'Brien (the ACC Rookie of the Year in 2010) will start at QB.
"Wanted to make it a competition this week to see where we are at and see who performs best during the week, and whoever does, then you know, that will be the guy that will start for us," Edsall told reporters during his weekly conference call. "I have complete confidence in both of them that they can do the job, and we'll see where that leaves us on Saturday."
Kuechly said the Eagles are preparing the same way, regardless of which quarterback starts for Maryland. The game plan will be the same: stop the run, then try to stop the pass.
"I think we just gotta work on finishing," Finch said.
The running back was talking about the offense, which has moved the ball in spurts against tough defenses of late, but he might as well have been talking about the team as a whole.
"If we put it together for a whole game, I think we can put up some points," he said.
In a game both teams need to have, the Eagles can't settle for anything less.
Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on twitter @jack_mccluskey.
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