Boston College takes a nation's best six-game bowl winning streak into this year's Meineke Car Care Bowl, but it does so without head coach Tom O'Brien who took the same position at with conference rival N.C. State. Defensive coordinator Frank Spaziani is the Eagles' interim coach while the search for a permanent replacement is ongoing.
This is the eighth straight season that Boston College has gone bowling. The Eagles played in this bowl game in 2004 when it was called the Continental Tires Bowl, defeating North Carolina 37-24.
Navy is appearing in a fourth consecutive bowl game for the first time in history. In fact, the Midshipmen's previous best string was two-in-a-row when they appeared in the 1980 Garden State and 1981 Liberty Bowls.
None of the bowls that Navy has played in during their streak were even in existence when head coach Paul Johnson took over the program from Charlie Weatherbie in 2002. Boston College's last four bowl games, including this year's, didn't exist when O'Brien became head coach of the Eagles in 1997.
Johnson is 37-24 in 5 years as head coach of Navy, and he is 35-14 over the last four years including victories in last season's Poinsettia Bowl and 2004's Emerald Bowl. The Midshipmen have also captured four straight Commander-In-Chief's Trophies as winners of the annual round-robin scheduling between Navy, Army and Air Force.
A solid running game has been Navy's forte during Johnson's tenure and the Middies lead the nation in that team statistical category this year with 327.4 yards per game. If you don't think that's a lot of yardage, consider that West Virginia is the only other school to top the 300-yard per game average and the Mountaineers averaged 302.3. Only eight schools averaged over 200 yards rushing
Adam Ballard led the ground troops with 731 yards, Reggie Campbell tacked on 655, Brian Hampton accounted for 646, Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada chipped in 480, Shun White produce 462, Matt Hall was good for 224, Eric Kettani registered 189, and Zerbin Singleton added 120 yards.
Kaheaku-Enhada and Hampton each had 10 rushing touchdowns.
Ballard suffered a broken right leg in the season-ending win over Army, and Kaheaku-Enhada took over signal-calling duties when Hampton tore his ACL in the 34-0 loss to Rutgers on October 14th.
Navy is the epitome of a one-dimensional offense, throwing the football only 112 times all season. They may have to go to the air a little more often against Boston College. The Eagles ranked third in the ACC in rushing defense allowing just 90 yards per game, but they gave up over 213 passing yards per game. But BC also intercepted 21 passes, led by DeJuan Tribble's seven pick-offs,
to rank No. 3 nationally in that statistic.
Boston College's offense starts with seasoned quarterback Matt Ryan who has, 4,564 career passing yards including an ACC-leading 2,700 yards this year.
The Eagles gained just 113 yards per game on the ground, but still managed 18 rushing touchdowns, paced by two-way player Brian Toal with five. Toal is a linebacker who appears in the Boston College backfield mainly on short-yardage and goal line situations. Toal's defensive numbers include 28 tackles and 2 interceptions.