Friday, October 26, 2007

Boston College Conquers Deuceophobia in Blacksburg

Triskaidekaphobia is the term for a fear of the number 13. While 13 is frequently considered to be unlucky, another number proved to be far more treacherous in college football this month. Number 2 was absolutely deadly for anyone who carried the label, inspiring an outbreak of “deuceophobia” across college campuses. However, Thursday night in Blacksburg, one team refused to give in to this condition. With a dramatic 14-10 victory over Virginia Tech, 2nd-ranked Boston College conquered its deuceophobia.

In completing its comeback, BC became the first #2 team in the AP poll to win in October. First, USC inexplicably fell to Stanford. The Cardinal was just as giddy the next week, when hated rival and new #2 California went down against Oregon State. The hex was not just limited to the Golden State, as upstart South Florida’s one-week stay at #2 was then ended at Rutgers. “Number 2,” of course, is also something you do in a bathroom stall (one of many things, if you are Larry Craig). In this case, the term is particularly applicable. Once teams became associated with number 2, their undefeated seasons went down the toilet.

No one knows for sure why #2 became so unlucky. However, speculation centered largely on New Orleans Saints running back Deuce McAllister, who suffered a season-ending ACL injury on September 24. Conspiracy theorists charged that a bitter McAllister wanted other deuces to suffer, so he imposed a curse on the number 2 in college football. Local favorite LSU was #2 at the time, so as the theory went, McAllister waited a week to allow USC to fall back to 2nd before imposing the hex. Surely he could find plenty of help in New Orleans – a town filled with voodoo specialists AND fans who hate the Trojans.

Football coaches notice trends, so deuceophobia spread rapidly. Some defensive coordinators scrapped their Cover 2 and Tampa 2 schemes. Many offensive counterparts refused to try 2-point conversions. None of them wanted to play on ESPN2. Players were forbidden to watch Austin Powers movies, which feature the character known as Number Two. And all copies of A Tale of Two Cities were removed from locker rooms – a huge blow to the legions of players who depend on Dickens for pre-game inspiration.

Thursday night, it appeared that Boston College was ripe to join the list of victims. The 2nd-ranked Eagles endured 2 interceptions by Heisman candidate Matt Ryan and trailed by 2 scores late in the game. However, BC decided to make the number 2 work in their favor. Ryan executed the 2-minute offense to perfection and threw 2 touchdowns, sending the stunned Hokies to their 2nd defeat. The curse of number 2 was burst, like a balloon filled with helium (whose atomic number is 2).

Perhaps it was fitting that a team from Boston was able to turn the number 2 in their favor. On the same night, 2 runs were enough for the Red Sox to win Game 2 of the World Series. Their mere participation means that Sox fans don’t have to see Derek Jeter wearing #2 in the Fall Classic. Also on Thursday, the Bruins beat the Black Hawks by 2 goals. The Patriots are one of 2 undefeated NFL teams. And the Celtics are ecstatic about landing 2 new stars, including 2-guard Ray Allen. Boston-area native John Adams would have been proud. He was our nation’s original #2 as George Washington’s Vice President before becoming President #2. Alas, he then lost to Thomas Jefferson, who wound up on the 2-dollar bill.

Unlike USC, Cal, and South Florida, Boston College showed that the number 2 does not scare them. But just to be safe, the Eagles will be pulling for Penn State on Saturday.