The first six wins were about the journey.
But the seventh and, possibly, eighth wins of Boston College’s football season will be a determining factor in the Eagles’ postseason destination.
“We fought to get to six [wins] and now we have two games left and we’re just looking at each game as a one-game season,’’ said senior quarterback Chase Rettig. “We’re just trying to attack it even harder than we did last week. It’s nice to get bowl-eligible, but our senior class has higher goals than that.’’
BC became bowl-eligible for the first time since 2010 with last Saturday’s rousing 38-21 victory over North Carolina State, a home finale highlighted by Andre Williams’s ACC-record 339-yard rushing performance. But the Eagles knew their sixth win — as hard-fought as it was — did not necessarily guarantee them a bowl berth.
Not yet, anyway.
The Eagles (6-4, 3-3) begin the final phase of the regular season Saturday afternoon at Maryland (6-4, 2-4) in a Coastal Division matchup. BC visits Syracuse on Nov. 30.
The Terrapins also became bowl-eligible last weekend, defeating Virginia Tech on the road, 27-24, in overtime. There are eight ACC teams currently bowl-eligible, and possibly two more could qualify this weekend: North Carolina (5-5) hosts Old Dominion in a nonconference game and Syracuse (5-5, 3-3) hosts Pittsburgh (5-5, 2-4).
All could have a bearing on BC’s postseason hopes, because the league could have more bowl-eligible teams than the conference’s nine available bowl slots, counting the BCS title game and the Orange Bowl.
“I think the most important thing right now, I told our team, is that we need to get our seventh win,’’ said coach Steve Addazio. “The more games you’re able to win, the better situation you’re in, the more locked in you are to actually getting one of those slots.
“So when you’re in a competitive conference, which is a great thing, this is a byproduct.’’
Maryland, which will be leaving for the Big Ten after this season, ranks fourth in the conference in rushing defense at 139.8 yards per game, while BC’s rushing offense is ranked second at 217.2 yards.
In last week’s victory at Virginia Tech, Maryland held the Hokies to 54 yards rushing. However, the Terrapins have been gashed thrice this season for more than 200 yards, giving up 242 yards in games against Virginia and Syracuse, and 247 against Clemson.
Now they will be tasked with stepping in front of a runaway locomotive — the A-Train — in the form of Williams, the nation’s leading rusher (181.0 yards per game) who already holds the ACC single-season rushing record with 1,810 yards. Williams now owns the top three rushing performances in the ACC this year; he also ran for 295 at New Mexico State and 263 vs. Army.
“To see what he did to [N.C. State’s] safeties and all the defensive backs once we got him to that second and third level, it’s exciting to watch,’’ said right tackle and cocaptain Ian White.
“You know that if you make your block, he’s going to gain yards. There’s no way he’s not going to gain yards if you have a successful block. He’s that kind of downhill runner.
“It’s exciting to block for him and it’s exciting to be on the team with him.’’
So it will be no secret to Maryland coach Randy Edsall what his team must do against BC — stop Williams.
“He’s strong, he’s powerful, he’s explosive,’’ Edsall said. “He’s got great lower body strength and he can run with his pads out in front of him. He’s flexible. He’s got a good offensive mind, too. But he wears on you.
“And what you’ve got to do is you’ve got to tackle him. You’ve got to wrap and tackle and bring your feet.’’
Otherwise, you run the risk of getting trampled.
With two games left, however, the Eagles have plenty left on the table to accomplish and more than enough incentive to improve its postseason posture and possible destination.
“We know what we have to do,’’ Addazio said. “We have to play our best football right now.
“We have to come down the homestretch strong.’’Michael Vega can be reached at email@example.com.