AMHERST, Mass. (AP) — There are only three top-tier football teams in New England, and they don’t play each other much.
Boston College coach Jeff Hafley wouldn’t mind seeing that change.
“I think it’s great for the region,” he said this week as the Eagles prepared to play UMass in Amherst for the first time since 1982. “Any chance we can get to spread our brand out across New England, we should.”
For years, BC was the only Division I school east of the Hudson River. UConn moved up from I-AA starting in 2000, and UMass joined the FBS in 2011, but Boston College is the only member of a Power 5 conference in the region.
The Eagles have played UConn just six times since 1928 and not at all since 2017; BC and UMass played regularly from 1966-82 but only a half-dozen times since then.
“They asked me for my opinion and said, ‘Hey, would you mind playing UMass at UMass?’” Hafley said. “I’ll play anybody wherever they want to play us. We don’t care where we play.
“I don’t see why they haven’t played there in the past. I don’t know why we wouldn’t play there,” he said. “If it’s our turn to go and play there, then we’ll get on a bus and play there. It’s as easy as that.”
Here are some things to look for when BC (1-0) faces UMass (0-1):
It’s not the official Red Bandana Game, but Boston College will be wearing special uniforms to honor the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attack.
The tradition began in 2014, when the Eagles began wearing uniforms with red bandana trim in memory of Welles Crowther, a BC graduate who died helping to rescue people from the World Trade Center during the 2001 attack. Survivors identified Crowther by the red bandana that he was known for wearing at all times.
BC upset No. 9 Southern California in the first Red Bandana Game, helping the tradition take hold.
“We talk all about Welles and we talk all about the Red Bandana Game. How could we not wear those jerseys on 9/11 on the 20th anniversary?” Hafley said. “It was a no-brainer. We’re going to do that in honor of every single person that was affected by 9/11.”
The official Red Bandana Game will be Nov. 5 vs. Virginia Tech.
LONG TIME COMING
The cross-state neighbors have played 26 times in all, with BC winning 21 of them, including a 55-21 victory in 2018. Three of UMass’ five wins were before WWI; their last was a 27-0 victory in 1978.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
BC’s Phil Jurkovec was the ACC’s co-quarterback of the week after throwing for 303 yards and three touchdowns in a little more than three quarters in the season-opening 51-0 victory over FBS Colgate. Zay Flowers, who caught seven passes for 135 yards and a score, was the conference’s receiver of the week.
UMass lost 51-7 to Pittsburgh in its opener, continuing a trend of offensive struggles. In four games during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, the Minutemen scored just 12 total points.
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