Clemson vs. Boston College: Who has the edge?

Clemson vs. Boston College: Who has the edge?

Football

Clemson vs. Boston College: Who has the edge?

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Clemson will look to stay atop the ACC’s Atlantic Division standings on Saturday when the Tigers travel to Alumni Stadium to square off against Boston College. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.. The game will be televised by ABC.

Clemson’s defense vs. Boston College’s offense: Clemson’s secondary had a bounceback performance against NC State after getting torched by Wake Forest. Now the Tigers’ defense gets another test from Zay Flowers and company.

Boston College likes to use play-action to set up its shots down the field in the passing game, but against the nation’s No. 2 rush defense, the Eagles may be forced to go to an almost exclusive dropback game in order for the passing game to be effective. But with an experienced, strong-armed signal caller in Phil Jurkovec and a talent out wide like Flowers, some of the pieces are there to potentially further exploit what’s been the ACC’s worst pass defense to this point.

As Louisville found out last week, Flowers is the type of talent that can take over a game (five catches, 151 yards, two TDs), and whether or not Clemson’s secondary will be back at full strength for this one is a mystery, too. But will the Eagles’ offensive line be able to give Jurkovec and Boston College’s running backs time and space to operate?

The Eagles are allowing the eighth-most sacks (3.6 per game) and rushing for the third-fewest yards (76.6) in the country, so Clemson’s deep and experienced defensive front against a Boston College offensive line that’s retooling after losing a bunch of talent off last year’s team gives the Tigers the advantage here. But the weapons the Eagles have in the passing game close the overall gap between these two units a bit. Advantage: Clemson

Clemson’s offense vs. Boston College’s defense: D.J. Uiagalelei and the rest of the Tigers’ offense continue to look like a completely different group than last season. After dropping 30 points on NC State’s top-20 defense last week, Clemson sits in the top 51 nationally in total yards, rushing yards and passing yards and 14th in scoring (41 points per game).

Another positive trend for the group: No turnovers in three consecutive games.

Meanwhile, Boston College’s defense has been solid but not great in any particular aspect. The Eagles rank 70th in total yards allowed and 84th in rush defense. They’re 59th against the pass, allowing just 218 yards per game through the air. But with just 10 sacks through five games, getting pressure on the quarterback hasn’t exactly been a strong suit either.

In fact, creating negative plays has been a chore all season for the Eagles, who are tied for the second fewest tackles for loss per game in the ACC. Clemson is allowing the fourth-fewest sacks in the league at 1.4 per game.

Boston College has also forced the fewest turnovers in the league (4), a byproduct of its lack of pressure. Simply put, Clemson’s offense has produced all season against some better defenses than what it will see Saturday. Advantage: Clemson

Special teams: Punting has been an adventure for Clemson this season with Dabo Swinney saying this week the team needs more consistency out of Aidan Swanson (39.5 yards per punt). 

As for Boston College, the Eagles have had one of the ACC’s more consistent punters in Danny Longman, whose 42.2-yard average has helped Boston College flip the field at times. But field goals have been hit or miss for Connor Lytton, who’s missed three of the seven he’s attempted so far.

Meanwhile, B.T. Potter continues to be steady at placekicker, making 10 of 11 field goals for Clemson to this point with a long of 51 yards. Each team has dangerous kickoff returners in Will Shipley (22.7 yards per return) and Jaelen Gill (26), but neither has done much in the punt return game. Advantage: Draw

Bottom line: Boston College can pose a threat with its explosiveness in the passing game, but the Eagles also need to keep Clemson from pinning its ears back. That’s going to be hard to do in a matchup where Clemson holds the advantage up front. This is a game the Tigers’ defensive line should be able to dominate, which should make Boston College one-dimensional and help the Tigers pull away on the road. 

Prediction: Clemson 34, Boston College 16

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