Head held low for Tom O'Brien
CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. - With 10:46 left in the fourth quarter, Tom O'Brien couldn't look up from his play-calling sheet. For close to a minute - and what seemed like an eternity - O'Brien kept his eyes down, his face hidden underneath his white NC State cap.
The 30-10 score on the board that would eventually become 37-17 had much to do with O'Brien's dejected posture, but the mocking noise from the Boston College student section certainly didn’t help:
"Tom O'Brien. Tom O'Brien."
For a man who led Boston College to seven-straight bowl wins and a 74-45 record, this certainly wasn't the reception he was used to. But after leaving many stunned by a December transfer south to North Carolina State, O'Brien's former players weren't too receptive either, welcoming him back with a 37-17 win that was never close in the 2nd half.
To be fair, the BC fans had to wait until late to truly mock their former coach, because it was O'Brien's new team that handed his old one the win, rather than the Eagles exacting revenge.
BC might like to think it’s bend but don't break defense helped snag the win - after all, the Eagles forced seven turnovers, two of them deep in the red zone. But it was more poor decision-making by NC State quarterback Harrison Beck that led to 14 BC points off turnovers. Beck also wasn't getting any help from his running game: counting out a 47-yard run at the end of the game and NC State had just two fewer turnovers than rushing yards (9).
"It's like a regular football game to me," said O'Brien about returning to the school he coached for 10 years. "It's always upsetting when you coach a team that turns the ball over seven times."
Though BC came out with a commanding 20-point win, it was far from a dominant performance. After throwing for 408 yards and 5 touchdowns last week, Ryan was held to 142 yards, a slack picked up mostly by Andre Callender who ran for 160 yards and two touchdowns, including a 69-yarder that sealed the game. And putting aside the seven turnovers, the BC defense was far from perfect, giving up over 300 yards in the air for the second straight game.
But that was far from on the minds of the BC faithful, who pelted O'Brien with chants and boos over the final 10 minutes. As O'Brien marched off the field into the tunnel - mercilessly placed in the middle of the BC student section - he stopped, held both hands up to acknowledge the boos, and smiled.
Player of the Game: Andre Callender. The senior running back ran for 160 yards and picked up another 30 through the air, sealing the game with a 69-yard touchdown run. On a day when Matt Ryan couldn't get much done through the air, Callender picked up the slack.
Play of the Game: Interception No. 2 of 5. Taji Morris' pick just before halftime broke the spirit on the NC State sideline. Down by seven, Beck had the Wolfpack driving inside the red zone when Morris picked him off in the end zone. BC would roll off 21-straight points and never look back.
BC at No. 21 Georgia Tech - The Yellow Jackets have put up two impressive wins already: 33-3 over Notre Dame, and 69-21 over Samford. A win by BC sets them up with three ACC wins and the driver's seat in the Atlantic Division.
NC State vs. Wofford - No NC State fans expected an ACC championship in Tom O'Brien's first season, but they also don't expect to go winless. Wofford should help O'Brien's team get back on track - right before a trio against Clemson, Louisville, and Florida State.