BOSTON (AP) Boston College coach Steve Addazio knows all about near misses.
The Eagles were down just seven points in the second half before giving up a touchdown on a turnover and losing to then-No. 9 Florida State 14-0 last weekend. But this week's opponent, Northern Illinois, came even closer to beating the No. 1 team in the nation.
''They almost beat Ohio State, but that's not new to them,'' Addazio said as the Eagles (2-1) prepared for Saturday's game against the Huskies in Chestnut Hill. ''They were in the Orange Bowl a couple years ago. This is an outstanding program. ... They have our attention on every front now.''
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Northern Illinois (2-1) trailed No. 1 Ohio State 20-13 with 7:46 left in the fourth quarter and had two possessions to tie the score. Both times, the Buckeyes prevented the Huskies from even gaining a first down.
''I know a lot of people say, `Well, you guys did good just competing with those guys.' But we don't look at it that way,'' defensive end Ladell Fleming said. ''We look at it: we had a chance to win the game, we wanted to win, so we didn't come through as a team to make that happen and we have to be better.''
Coach Rod Carey agreed.
''When you lose, it's a loss. There aren't more positives than there are negatives,'' he said. ''You could tell a severe sense of disappointment (among the players). That was good, because those are our expectations, and I think our guys have them just as much as we do.''
Both teams will try to bounce back on Saturday at Alumni Stadium. Here are some things to look for in the game:
Addazio wasn't ready to announce a starting quarterback to replace Darius Wade, who broke his ankle against Florida State. Both Troy Flutie - the nephew of the 1984 Heisman Trophy winner - and Jeff Smith took snaps after Wade left the game.
''I just want to watch them play and see who's handling the whole situation the best,'' Addazio said this week. ''I just wanted to get my eyes around it. ... Watching them play, watching them handle it. It's fun to watch them develop, respond from last week, and just learn and understand the game.''
Flutie, a sophomore, completed one of his two passes for 9 yards against the Seminoles. Smith, a freshman, took five snaps and threw one incomplete pass. Each also played - and played better - against overmatched Howard in a 76-0 victory the previous week.
Asked if he has enough tape on the BC quarterbacks, Carey said, ''Enough? You never have enough. We don't really know.''
After beating two FCS teams and then holding the Seminoles to one offensive touchdown, the Eagles remain the No. 1 defense in the nation.
BC is best in total yards (106.3 per game), rushing yards (37.3), passing yards (69) and total first downs allowed (25).
Carey said that watching film he saw a lot of similarities between the BC defense and the one the Huskies just played in Columbus, Ohio.
''To me, when you look at those two defensive units, there isn't much difference,'' he said. ''They're that good.''
Addazio was a member of Ohio State coach Urban Meyer's staff in Florida. The two coaches were also assistants together at Notre Dame in 1990-2000.
So, what did his former boss tell him about playing Northern Illinois?
''He said, `You have to buckle it up, guy.' I appreciate that very much,'' Addazio said. ''They're really good, tough, physical, well-coached. They're a good, veteran football team. That wasn't one of those flukes. They play hard. They made their opportunities through physical, tough, hard-nosed football.''
The teams have only met once before. On Nov. 10, 1971, BC beat the Huskies 20-10 in Chestnut Hill. Northern Illinois did visit the area when it played UMass in Foxborough in 2013. Heisman Trophy finalist Jordan Lynch ran for 199 yards and four touchdowns and threw for a 66-yard TD in a 63-19 victory over the Minutemen.
AP college football website: collegefootball.ap.org