Analysis from Georgia Tech's win over Boston College
Football came to me for once instead of expecting me to travel upward of 3,000 miles to go to it. As PFF’s resident Irishman, living in Ireland finally paid off as the college football season got off and running with the College Football Classic – a meeting between Boston College and Georgia Tech that took place in Dublin, Ireland.
It may have been an early start for anybody watching the game at home in the US, but here the game was an entirely civilized early-afternoon kickoff. Typically, it was raining all day, giving the visiting fans – of which there were plenty – an authentic taste of Irishness to take home across the pond.
Football games this side of the Atlantic are always a fascinating blend of fans. There is a loyal traveling contingent from either side as well as a smaller local support group, but among the myriad jerseys you will see among the crowd will be fans of almost every other team you can think of. Just sitting in close proximity to me were fans sporting jerseys from the San Diego Chargers, Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans, Miami Dolphins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, both Boston College and Georgia Tech, as well as local Irish sides representing their club.
This was now the sixth college football game held in Ireland dating back to the first in 1988, and the second time Boston College has been represented. They certainly had a large fan block given the natural Ireland-Boston links, but Georgia Tech also had a significant level of support making up the majority of the East stand in the stadium, and they were the group ultimately leaving the stadium happy by the time the clock wound down.
The conditions certainly had an effect on the quality of the football on display. It was raining hard enough that receiving gloves are practically useless, and can be more of a hindrance than an asset to catching the football. Boston College saw that in action early, with QB Patrick Towles throwing an interception off the hands of his intended receiver that would surely have stuck had they been playing in the dry.
I was actually surprised there weren’t more turnovers in this game given the triple option that Georgia Tech runs and the number of pitch plays in the game from either side on offense. After faltering early, Boston College had a seemingly commanding one-score lead, forcing the Yellow Jackets to the air, the worst thing for an offense centered on a triple-option ground attack.
They completed just enough and were able to move the ball down to the shadow of the Boston College end zone, eventually punching in the go-ahead touchdown with 35 seconds left on the clock. Boston College got the ball back, but couldn’t get out of their own way on the final drive, seeing yellow penalty flags fly on multiple plays to back them up and destroy any chance they had at an unlikely comeback victory.
So in a game with no real home side, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets snatched victory, and however damp, at least the Irish crowd got to see a grandstand finish to a game that was pretty dreary for large portions of the middle two quarters.
The organizers also made sure to go full-on cliché with their halftime show, featuring both marching bands lined up spelling out the numbers ‘1916’ in reference to the Easter Rising of 100 years ago, before playing The Fields of Athenry and Ireland’s Call, only to give way to a brief dance-off featuring Riverdance-style Irish dancing. What more could the Irish fans of college football ask for?