After winning 75 games in 10 seasons, Tom O'Brien left Beantown for N.C. State and a pay raise on Dec. 8.
O'Brien's departure leaves the Golden Eagles with defensive coordinator Frank Spaziani in
charge for the bowl game.
Navy looks like it will have Paul Johnson for one more season. After leading the Midshipmen to at least eight wins in each of the last four seasons, Johnson's name popped up in
several coaching searches.
A win over Boston College would give Johnson 100 collegiate wins for his career (at Georgia Southern and Navy), and would mark his second 10-win season in the last three years.
To earn its third consecutive bowl victory, Navy will rely on backups in the backfield. Fullback Adam Ballard, the team's leading rusher, and starting quarterback Brian Hampton are on the injured list.
Before handing the team over to former Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski, Boston College will try to win its seventh consecutive bowl game without the coach who won the first six.
Meineke Car Care Bowl: No. 23 Boston College (9-3) vs. Navy (9-3)
When: Dec. 30, 1 p.m. ET Where: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, N.C. TV info: ESPN (Pam Ward, Mike Gottfried, Jimmy Dykes)
No. 23 Boston College Eagles Conference: ACC Record: 9-3, 5-3 Coach:Frank Spaziani (interim coach) Passing leader:Matt Ryan (243 of 298, 2,700 yards, 14 TDs, eight INTs) Rushing leaders:L.V. Whitworth (172 carries, 790 yards, four TDs) Receiving leaders:Kevin Challenger (45 receptions, 508 yards, five TDs) Defensive leaders:Jolonn Dunbar (78 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, two fumbles recovered, sack, INT)
Navy Midshipmen Conference: Independent Record: 9-3 Coach:Paul Johnson (37-24 in five seasons at Navy) Passing leader:Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada (19 of 42, 307 yards, three TDs, one INT) Rushing leader:Reggie Campbell (86 carries, 655 yards, five TDs) Receiving leaders: Campbell (13 receptions, 244 yards, two TDs) Defensive leaders:Rob Caldwell (106 tackles, six tackles for loss, three forced fumbles)
Boston College running game vs. Navy run defense: Despite Boston College's penchant for turning out interior offensive lineman, the Golden Eagles have struggled a bit with the run game this season. The
tandem of L.V. Whitworth and Andre Callender helped BC average 116.3 rushing yards per game. Navy counters with three senior linebackers in the 3-4 scheme, led by Rob Caldwell and David Mahoney (182 tackles combined). Edge:Boston College.
Boston College passing game vs. Navy pass defense: Eagles quarterback Matt Ryan, the ACC's leader in total offense, has picked up the slack for the run game in his first full year
as a starter. Despite placing only one receiver on the All-ACC team - (Kevin Challenger was named honorable mention) - Ryan led a top-25 passing offense. For Navy, defensive end John Chan had seven
sacks. Outside linebackers David Mahoney and Tyler Tidwell added a total of 11. Edge: Boston College.
Navy running game vs. Boston College run defense: Since Paul Johnson arrived in 2002, Navy has been among the national leaders in rushing - thanks to the triple option offense.
Despite a season-ending injury to quarterback Brian Hampton, Navy led the country with 327.4 yards per game behind backup Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada. Navy will have to run the
option without injured fullback Adam Ballard, who led the team in rushing. BC linebackers Jolonn Dunbar and Brian Toal will be tested often against a team that runs the ball an
average of 58.8 times per game. Edge: Navy.
Navy passing game vs. Boston College pass defense: Navy's passing game is nearly non-existent due to the focus on the option. Navy threw 10 or more passes only four times this season.
Navy's run-heavy offense could affect an Eagles defense that has been dependent on plays in the passing game. With seven interceptions, DeJuan Tribble led a BC team that had 21 picks this year.
He's not likely to have many opportunities against Kaheaku-Enhada. Edge: Boston College.
Boston College coaches vs. Navy coaches: Boston College has won six consecutive bowl games, but all of those were under Tom O'Brien - who will hope to continue the streak in
2007 with N.C. State. Defensive coordinator Frank Spaziani will serve as interim coach against Paul Johnson, who has won his last two bowl games. Edge: Navy.
Boston College will win if: The defense can stop Boston College's rarely seen triple option. The Golden Eagles stay in the plus column in turnovers after finishing second in the country in
turnover margin (35 takeaways, 20 giveaways).
Navy will win if: Boston College's coaching changeover creates some confusion for the Eagles. Navy's option offense could also catch the B.C. defense off-guard. Navy's option offense neutralizes BC's knack for getting key interceptions.
Injury situation: Navy leading rusher Adam Ballard broke his right leg in the 26-14 win over Army on Dec. 2 and will not play. Boston College center Kevin Sheridan is expected to return after missing the last two games with a partial tear in his medial collateral ligament. BC's top lineman, Josh Beekman, will return to right guard after he filled in at center.
Worth noting: Boston College has won six consecutive bowl games, the longest streak in the country. … Navy coach Paul Johnson is seeking his 100th career win as head coach. … Navy is appearing in a school-record fourth consecutive bowl game and seeking a school-record third consecutive bowl win. … In last year's Poinsettia Bowl, Navy's Reggie Campbell tied a bowl game record with five touchdowns in a 51-30 win over Colorado State. … Boston College kicker Ryan Ohliger did not make the trip becasue of a violation of team rules.
Line: Boston College by 6
Fox's pick: Navy 24, Boston College 21. Other Rivals.com Expert picks: Olin Buchanan, national college football writer: Boston College 34, Navy 13. Bobby Burton, editor-in-chief: Navy 24, Boston College 21. Steve Megargee, national college football writer: Boston College 21, Navy 17. Bill King, RivalsRadio host: Boston College 28, Navy 17. Make your picks on Rivals.com Bowl Pick 'Em.