By Lee Lance.
This week TCI brings you two sets of previews and predictions. Lee gives you his breakdown in this edition.
Clemson and Boston College have met 19 times before this year on the football field, dating back to the first match up in 1939. In those 19 previous games, Clemson holds a one game series lead, 9-8-2. As of three years ago, the two teams meet for bragging rights as usual, but also now for a trophy, the O’Rourke-McFadden trophy.
The Boston College Gridiron Club began sponsoring the O’Rourke-McFadden Trophy in 2008. Clemson won it the first season with a 27-21 victory in Boston, then won last year at Clemson by a 25-7 score. The 2008 win was Dabo Swinney’s first win as a college head coach, so he has proudly displayed that trophy in his office since November 2, 2008.
Clemson Offense vs Boston College Defense
Boston College has the number one rushing defense in the ACC thus far this season, and probably the best defensive front the Tigers have seen in several weeks. Linebacker Luke Kuechly leads the Eagles defense in tackles with 97, and combined with Mark Herzlich and that defensive front, they will bring plenty of pressure on the Tiger’s offensive line.
With Boston College giving up just under three yards per rush and the fact that they love to blitz to stop the run, Clemson will have to see continued improvement out of the young receiving corp that has shown promise the last two games. As long as the receivers don’t get the drops again, that shouldn’t be a big problem since the Boston College secondary and pass defense is no where near as strong as the rush defense.
Look for the Tigers to throw the ball early in this one, especially on first down. Also look for Andre Ellington to increase his lead in the all purpose yardage category in ACC standings and make a few catches out of the backfield as the Tigers will no doubt be throwing some short, quick dump offs and screens to combat the blitz. If the Tigers are successful with that it will open things up on the ground for Ellington and Jamie Harper too.
Let’s not also forget that the Tiger offensive line is probably the best offensive line that the Eagle’s defensive front has played against all year.
Clemson Defense vs Boston College Offense
While the Boston College defense is sound, the offense has been anything but this season, and they are the reason that this Eagle team has just two wins on the season, and none in ACC play.
Despite having the leading rusher in the ACC in their backfield, the Eagles are sitting at 12th in the conference in scoring offense, 12th in the conference in total offense, 12th in the conference in rushing offense, and 8th in the conference in passing offense. I think it is pretty clear who has the upper hand when Boston College has the ball. Montel Harris averages just under 100 yards per game, 99.1 to be exact, and he may have close to that against the Tigers, but it won’t be nearly enough to give the Eagles any advantage overall.
Da’Quan Bowers could have a career day in this game, and look to hear Andre Branch and Brandon Maye’s name quite a bit on the day as well due to the Tigers bringing plenty of blitz action at the Boston College backfield. Also, this could be the day that DeAndre McDaniel gets his first pick-six of the season as well.
With two punters among the best in the country going head to head Saturday, it’s hard to give either of them much of an advantage. Dawson Zimmerman averages 43.8 yards per punt while BC’s Ryan Quigley is right behind him in that category at 42.9 yards per punt, respectively.
As for the return team, Clemson is ranked second in kickoff returns and third in punt returns, gaining 23.7 and 13.5 yards while Boston College finds itself at or near to bottom of those categories. The Eagles are tenth in punt return yardage averaging just 18 yards per return and twelth in punt return yardage gaining just at five yards per return.
The two teams field goal kickers have both been pretty solid on the season. Nate Freese has made 12 of 14 attempts for the Eagles while Chandler Catanzaro has booted six through the uprights for the Tigers on nine attempts.
The Tigers got a huge bonus handed to them on Thursday night by the Wolfpack of NC State, or should I say by Christian Ponder and FSU. With that dropped fumble by Ponder sealing the game for NC State, the Tigers stay in the hunt for the ACC Atlantic title and a trip to Charlotte to play for the ACC championship. You can bet that the Tiger team was watching, and you can bet they will come out with a little extra juice in the tanks on Saturday.
As if the Eagles from Boston weren’t facing enough of an uphill battle before, now the Tigers will be looking to make a statement to the rest of the ACC this weekend and they will do so at the expense of the BC players and the few of their fans that show up for the noon game.