No. 18 Boston College 41, Buffalo 0
BOSTON (AP)—With a drenching rain, gusting winds and lowly Buffalo visiting town, it was the perfect time for Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan to sit one out.
In his place, more mobile—and healthier—backup Chris Crane slopped through Buffalo-like weather on Saturday to run for two touchdowns and throw for another while leading No. 18 Boston College to a 41-0 victory over the Bulls.
“It’s extremely hard to come in and play but to come in and play under those circumstances, where you can’t hold on to the ball,” BC coach Tom O’Brien said. “I thought he did a great job with what we asked him to do today.”
Crane completed 17 of 26 passes for 142 yards and drove BC (7-1) to scores on its first four possessions. He also ran 10 times, scrambling for 4- and 8-yard touchdowns and picking up 15 yards on a third-and-13 that set up the Eagles’ opening field goal.
“I knew that with the weather, running the ball would be a great option because just to be able to throw and catch it is tough task on its own,” Crane said. “Just to be able to get the start, I was excited. But, knowing the weather was going to be a little bit difficult, I knew I had to be just that more prepared and more ready to play.”
L.V. Whitworth ran for 84 yards, including a 43-yard touchdown to open the third quarter. Andre Callender added 81 yards rushing and the Eagles did not need to punt until late in the third quarter—and that was called back for a roughing the kicker penalty.
Buffalo (1-7) had just 92 yards of total offense, with a total of minus 12 on the ground.
“Running the football will be good in any conditions—especially when you’re talking about rain and wind,” said coach Turner Gill, whose Bulls have lost seven straight since a season-opening 9-3 overtime victory over Temple.
Although 40,000 tickets were sold for the game, there were 25,480 no-shows on a wet and windy day in Chestnut Hill. A drenching downpour lasted into the second half, with the rain letting up in the third quarter only to be replaced by wind gusts forecast for up to 55 mph.
Puddles appeared on the artificial turf, and the umpire regularly kept the ball covered by a towel for as long as possible before spotting it. But players on both teams had trouble holding on: Buffalo, which had just three fumbles in its first seven games, dropped the ball four times and lost two fumbles on Saturday; Crane muffed the ball at least three times, but BC recovered each time.
“We’ve played in a lot worse weather than this,” said Buffalo tight end Chad Upshaw, whose team had a game snowed out by a rare, early October storm that dumped nearly 2 feet on the region and knocked out power to 350,000 of the region’s homes.
It’s not just the fans who skipped this one: Ryan took the opportunity to rest the sore left ankle and foot that has been bothering him since the first game of the season. He has been nursed back to health on a weekly basis and hadn’t missed a snap due to injury all season; this was his chance to rest.
“I didn’t want to put him out there and take a chance in the rain,” O’Brien said. “I didn’t know if we were going to slip and slide around and do everything else. I made the decision (Friday). … It was pretty obvious then that it was going to be a terrible day.”
In came Crane, whose only playing time this year was in a Sept. 30 shutout of Maine, when he threw three passes.
“I thought Chris was doing a good job of making plays with his feet. That can be really important when it’s wet,” Ryan said, wearing a walking cast in the postgame news conference.
Asked if he thought Crane was a better runner, Ryan laughed.
“A much better runner!” he said. “Come on, didn’t you watch?”
BC is off to its best start since beginning the year 7-0-1 in 1992, which is also the last time it had more than one shutout in a season. The Eagles finish with No. 24 Wake Forest, Duke, Maryland and Miami and a clear path to the ACC title game if they win out.
Buffalo had a chance to avoid the shutout on its final possession, but Paul Anderson intercepted Bulls backup Tony Paoli in the end zone with about a minute left.
BC faced few obstacles from the Bulls, starting on its first possession when Crane scrambled for 15 yards on a third-and-13 that set up a 25-yard field goal by Steve Aponavicius.
Crane made it 17-0 with touchdown runs from 4 and 8 yards out, then hit Mark Palmer for an 8-yard score.