Image Credit: Boston College Athletics
After an underwhelming 2019, most expected Boston College to take another step back in Jeff Hafley’s first year. But led by transfer quarterback Phil Jurkovec, the Eagles have had success in the passing game. After being picked 13th in the ACC preseason poll, the Eagles currently sit at 6-4.
Meanwhile, Virginia started the year playing below their expectations. After a plague of quarterback injuries, the Cavaliers lost four of their first five games. Nonetheless, Bronco Mendenhall has led his team back to a .500 record. A major reason for this comeback has been the breakout of the Brennan Armstrong and his dynamic receivers.
Success for each team’s season relies largely on this game. Boston College can grab their seventh win and practically secure a spot in the top half of the conference. Virginia has a chance to have another signature victory to build off of before facing archrival Virginia Tech.
Boston College Offense vs Virginia Defense
These two units play to each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
Boston College relies largely on the air game, while Virginia has struggled in coverage this year. The Eagles will have plenty of matchup advantages on the outside, especially with Zay Flowers. Flowers is able to make contested catches and is quick in the open field. He may have a big day against the UVA secondary.
Meanwhile, the Eagles have failed to establish the run this season and Virginia has not allowed much on the ground. The Hoos recently lost the anchor of their defense – nose tackle Jowon Briggs. Regardless, David Bailey has only eclipsed 55 rushing yards this season against Syracuse and Georgia Tech.
The X-Factor for Boston College on this side of the ball is Hunter Long. Although Long’s production slowed down the recent stretch of games, he still leads tight ends in the FBS in receiving yards. Long will likely be covered by a combination of Nick Jackson and Zane Zandier, who make up Virginia’s elite group of linebackers.
Virginia Offense vs Boston College Defense
Virginia has similarly been mostly unsuccessful with their running backs. While Wayne Taulapapa is capable on the goal line, he has been unable to run the ball consistently in the open field.
Boston College has a well-rounded defense. Senior captains Max Richardson and Marcus Valdez are the key pieces to Boston College’s front seven.
Jeff Hafley is great with developing defensive backs, and Josh DeBerry has perhaps benefited the most. The sophomore cornerback is having a breakout 2020 season, allowing just 20 passing yards per game.
It will be interesting to see how they handle Virginia’s versatile receiving corps. Each wideout on the UVA offense has a different skill set. Terrell Jana is an intermediate threat, while Billy Kemp will be moved throughout the formation in order to touch the ball as many times as possible. The Cavaliers offense also features 6-7 true freshman Lavel Davis, who is averaging 27 yards per reception.
The Bottom Line
This game should feature several big plays in the passing game, but should also be well-played against the run. Short-yardage situations will be the difference maker, and Virginia has been more successful in that respect. Saturday’s contest begins at 3:30 and airs on regional sports networks.
Final Score: Virginia 31, Boston College 27
Other Games Across The ACC
Western Carolina (0-2) at North Carolina (6-3), Saturday at 12 P.M. ET (ACC Network)
Western Carolina has lost each of their first two games by at least 30 points and it should be the same in this one. Look for the defense to gain some steam as they approach the Tar Heels’ final game against Miami.
Prediction: North Carolina 56, Western Carolina 14
Syracuse (1-9) at Notre Dame (9-0), Saturday at 2:30 P.M. ET (NBC)
Notre Dame should dominate this game in virtually every aspect. Kyren Willams, who is averaging over 100 yards per game, should have a day on the ground.
Prediction: Notre Dame 49, Syracuse 7
Georgia Tech (3-5) at NC State (7-3), Saturday at 4 P.M. ET (ACC Network)
This game may be closer than people expect, but NC State always finds ways to win. The key will be the Wolfpack defensive front, who will have a significant advantage against a struggling Georgia Tech offensive line.
Prediction: NC State 35, Georgia Tech 24
Clemson (8-1) at Virginia Tech (4-5), Saturday at 7:30 P.M. ET (ABC)
The Hokies haven’t been able to put it together this year. Considering that this game determines whether Clemson makes the ACC championship, the Tigers should roll in this one.
Prediction: Clemson 52, Virginia Tech 20
Miami (7-1) at Duke (2-7), Saturday at 8:00 P.M. ET (ACC Network)
Miami hasn’t dominated most of their games, but the talent gap with Duke is large. Duke leads the FBS with 30 turnovers, so expect to see the chain out plenty of times on Saturday night.
Prediction: Miami 38, Duke 13