Previewing 2018 Football: Syracuse

boston college football

After Boston College football suffered a heartbreaking loss to Florida State last Saturday—one that featured a much-talked-about decision by head coach Steve Addazio to punt the ball on fourth down near the end of the game—the Eagles (7-4, 4-3 Atlantic Coast) return to their home turf to host No. 19 Syracuse (8-3, 5-2) in their regular season finale. Down in Tallahassee, both Anthony Brown and A.J. Dillon suited up, although Dillon didn’t look to be 100 percent as Addazio rode his star running back to the tune of 37 carries.

Syracuse comes into Chestnut Hill having fallen seven spots in the polls last week, the result of getting pummelled by undefeated No. 3 Notre Dame in a 36-3 blowout. The Orange were overwhelmed in all facets of the matchup as their only points came on a field goal with 10 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Not only was it a 30-point lost for Syracuse, but it also lost starting quarterback Eric Dungey to an upper-body injury during the game. If Dungey is absent, then the prospects for an Eagles win seem much brighter. A victory over this Syracuse team would allow BC to finish with an eight-win season for the first time since 2009 and vault the program into a much more prominent bowl game.

Who is BC playing?
Syracuse

When is BC playing?
Saturday, Nov. 24, 12 p.m.

Where is BC playing?
Alumni Stadium, Chestnut Hill, Mass.

How to Watch:
This game will be broadcasted on ESPN.

By the Numbers:

BC:

1) It was a tale of two halves for Brown last Saturday—on his first 10 attempts, he went 3-of-10 for just 12 yards, along with two interceptions. He went on to finish the half with three more completions for 71 additional yards. The redshirt sophomore did turn it around in the second half, though, by passing for 214 yards and a touchdown to keep BC in the game.

2) The Eagles have been noticeably more aggressive this year on fourth down. Through 11 games, BC has gone for it 28 times and converted 50 percent of the time. Last year, the Eagles went for it on fourth down 30 times through 13 games. Still, Addazio chose not to go for it on the ill-fated fourth down on the Eagles’ second to last drive.

3) Zach Allen surely boosted his draft stock last week against the Seminoles. The senior defensive end showed up all over the stat sheet, as he notched six tackles—one for a loss—a sack, a pass breakup, and a blocked field goal. While the FSU offensive line is nothing to write home about, Allen, who many draft analysts project to be an early round pick, clearly shined in the road matchup.

Syracuse:

1) Syracuse comes into this ACC tilt as a team that packs a ton of firepower, a fact that is clearly evident in its scoring output. The Orange is currently putting up 40.6 points per game, good for second in the conference behind Clemson—and a touchdown more than BC’s scoring average.

2) Unfortunately for the Orange, that firepower may not be on full display as Dungey, a senior, is questionable for Saturday’s game. Tommy DeVito stepped in against the Irish, and while those were tough circumstances to be placed in, he did not perform very well. DeVito completed less than 50 percent of his passes for 105 yards and threw two interceptions, while also absorbing six sacks.

3) Like Clemson, Syracuse boasts an intimidating defensive line. Juniors Alton Robinson and Kendall Coleman are the leading sack duo in the ACC, as they have tallied nine and seven sacks, respectively. Two weeks prior, BC’s offense was completely stifled by Clemson’s stout defensive line, and while Syracuse may not have four future first-round picks on their line, it will still pose a tough challenge for Brown and Co.

Last Meeting:

These teams last met on Nov. 25, 2017, when BC rolled to a big victory over the Orange. Behind 193 rushing yards from Dillon, the Eagles came away with 42-14 victory. This occurred amid the Eagles’ late-season turnaround last year, which was on full display as BC handled Syracuse with relative ease in upstate New York. Darius Wade, who had taken over for an injured Brown, had an efficient outing as he completed 80 percent of his passes for 248 yards and one touchdown.

Outlook:

If BC wants to shed the mediocrity that has defined the program for the past six seasons, a win against Syracuse, followed by a bowl game victory would prove that BC has actually turned a corner under Addazio. As College Gameday descended on Chestnut Hill two weeks ago, there was massive hype surrounding this team, but now that hype is all but gone after an expected setback against Clemson and a frustrating loss to FSU. At the moment, BC has very few believers, and this game against the Orange comes at a bad time, as Alumni Stadium will be largely empty with most students still away from campus for the Thanksgiving holiday.

The matchup does mark Senior Day for BC, so expect the Eagles to come out the gates quite motivated to close out the season strong for their upperclassmen. Whether Dungey or Devito starts for the Orange, BC’s defense will need to be stout in stopping a potent offense. If the Eagles want to solidify themselves on offense, Brown needs to perform evenly across all four quarters, and Dillon can’t be ridden into the ground. There are three competent backs—Travis Levy, Ben Glines, and David Bailey—behind Dillon who can help out this offense. If Addazio is able to make the correct in-game decisions, then the Eagles may just end the regular season on a positive note.

Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Senior Staff