Boston College: Eagles locked in days ahead of prime time matchup with No. 25 Clemson

If you’re a Boston College fan or just a fan of college football in general, it doesn’t get much better than Saturday night.

The upstart, unranked, unbeaten Eagles against a .500, suddenly reeling, No. 25 Clemson team that has been the cream of the crop in the ACC for what feels like a decade. Can BC stay unbeaten and show the world just what’s happening over at The Heights? Can Clemson get back on track in front of 110,000 fans and keep BC in the “yeah but” category when it comes to some of the best programs in the country?

It’s a game full of storylines and potentially season altering and program altering ramifications. BC nearly stunned the Tigers a year ago but blew a big lead. This year is much, much different and it may be the best chance the Eagles ever have to knock off Clemson. Both teams are quite different now and seemingly going in opposite directions, but as coaches and players begin to lock in mentally, the message from the previous meeting is still very much the same for Coach Hafley and his staff.

“I still think we’re the underdog, you’re talking about the six-time reigning ACC champ and you’re talking about a team that hasn’t lost at home in over 30 games,”Hafley said during his final bit of media availability before the game on Wednesday. “It’s a team that’s been in the playoffs and the national championship. Despite us being 4-0 and them being 2-2, we’re still 16-point underdogs, out mentality’s always going to be the same.

“I don’t think anybody outside this building believes we can win the game, so it’s the same approach. We had guys last year that believed we could go in and win the game just as if we’re playing anyone. If you don’t believe you can win, then what are we doing?”

The Eagles will be kicking off under the lights for the first time this season, having to wait all day for the 7:30 start. I asked Hafley if his routine personally changes with such a long day, or if there is ever a worry of over analyzing things too much.

“I wish we could play every game at 10 o’clock in the morning,” he joked. “If it were up to me we would just wake up, get on a bus and go play. I don’t make the start times, so it gives us a little more time at the hotel to do things. We’ll have an extra meeting, we’ll do a little walkthrough and we’ll continue to chip away. It gives us extra time for preparation, but you’re right you don’t want to over analyze things and start second-guessing yourself.

“The work you put in from Sunday to Friday, you’ve got to trust it, Trust that your process was right, trust that your routine was right all week and just look things over, stick with the plan. We can’t go back and practice, so it’s not like we’re going to put anything new in that we haven’t practiced. Good question and I wish all games were first thing in the morning.”

What about the players? How hard is it to control your emotions with so many storylines surrounding the week and such a long wait until kickoff? For some, it means more sleep, for others, it’s a tough adjustment.

“You sleep in more, it’s more time to yourself, knowing the right things to do when to take a nap if you need to, when to keep going over film” explained running back Pat Garwo. “Everyone is different every position group does it a different way, whatever works for you is the best routine to get you ready to play.”

“It’s a long wait, I’ll definitely be in the hotel for a couple hours,” added the walk-off hero from the Missouri game, Brandon Sebastian. “Everyone’s going to be a little anxious trying to just get ready because this is a later game for the first time of the year, but we have an older group now so everyone understands what we need to do and how to bring the young guys along with us. I feel like we’ll be fine.”

Of course, preparation for a road trip to Clemson wouldn’t be complete without blasting music in the Fish Field House during practice to simulate the noise the offense will be dealing with. Coach Hafley teased offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti about how loud he had Guns & Roses, ACDC and Pearl Jam blaring on Tuesday. On Wednesday, Hafley revealed what he’s got on before a game to get fired up, but he also withheld one of his darkest secrets from the world.

“I’m usually a Springsteen guy before the game,” Hafley said in possibly the least surprising answer ever considering he’s a Jersey guy. “It usually gets me right, it’s kind of always been that way. There’s ones I’ll turn on that I won’t share with you right now. People might think I’m a little out there with some of the music I choose. When I tell my wife what I listen to before the game she usually makes fun of me, so I don’t want the rest of the social media world to make fun of me for it, so I’m going to keep that one a secret.”

If the Eagles are able to go into Death Valley and come home at 5-0 and as a suddenly dangerous threat to win the ACC, BC fans will blast the freakin’ Teletubbies theme song or whatever odd thing Hafley chooses (look it up if you’re not old enough) before the NC State game if it means continued success.