Our Boston Globe style look at today's game between North Carolina State and Boston College.
BC (3-4 overall, 0-4 ACC) at NC State (4-3 overall, 1-2 ACC)
When: 12:30 PM
Where: Carter-Finley Stadium, Raleigh, NC (57,583)
Line: Westgate Vegas - NC State by 15, The Book - NC State by 21.5
Series history: Boston College leads 8-5, in Raleigh - NC State leads 3-2
Last game vs BC: NC State 24 at BC 8 - 2015
Last game at NC State: BC 30 at NC State 14 - 2014
Last BC win: 2014 - BC 30 at NC State 14 - 2014
Win Streak: NC State 1
When NC State Runs:
Advantage: Boston College
NC State run offense: 161.6 ypg, 79th in the nation, Boston College run defense: 102.57 ypg, 9th in the nation
Although the Wolfpack is very balanced in their offensive approach, the straw that stirs the drink is senior RB Matt Dayes. The 5'9 203 pounder out of Fort Lauderdale, FL is the 3rd leading rusher in the ACC at 97.4 yards per game and 5.5 yards per carry. Outside of the Louisville game, he has been remarkably consistent on the season, giving the Pack right around 125 yards per game in five of the seven games to date.
NC State is very good though at spreading the wealth throughout their offense and although Dayes gets about 45% of their total carries, six other backs have gotten 14 or more carries during the season.
Dayes is fairly explosive as well, contributing 16 plays of over 20 yards. The Eagles are #2 in the country against the big run, but are just 40th nationally in the same stat counting just conference games.
Like BC, one would not consider the NC State offensive line a real strength. Boston College should have an advantage against the run, with the NC State plan to create balance and diversity in the attack to keep the Eagle front seven at arms length.
When NC State Passes:
Advantage: NC State
NC State pass offense: 247.7 ypg, 48th in the nation, Boston College pass defense: 190.3 ypg, 22nd in the nation
The troubles BC is experiencing vs the pass are becoming more and more chronicled every week. NC State though, is a bird of a different feather when compared to Clemson, Virginia Tech and Syracuse in particular who have lit up the Eagle secondary and play at a fast tempo. NC State is more traditional in their approach, but uses the diversity of their attack, both running and passing and the multitude of weapons they have to accentuate the play of QB Ryan Finley.
Finley, 10th in the ACC in passing, has completed 62.5% of his passes for over 1500 yards and an 11:4 TD to INT ratio. The balance of the State offense shows here as well, with six different players with over 12 receptions each, including Dayes out of the backfield where he is very dangerous and jack of all trades, Jalen Samuels, who leads the team with 33 receptions and scoring with 7 touchdowns, playing the hybrid H back role.
Stephen Louis a 6'2 SO WR is a big play threat averaging over 21 yards per catch and we know how the big pass play has impacted BC.
The Pack have done well in pass protection allowing only 10 sacks and 11 hurries on the season while converting over 48% of their third down opportunities in home games.
When Boston College Runs:
Advantage: NC State
Boston College run offense: 170.4 ypg, 67th in the nation, NCState run defense: 105.00 ypg, 13th in the nation
The Pack have not allowed any team, including Clemson or Louisville, to run for as many yards as BC averages and unlike the Eagle D who have wilted in conference games (8th overall, just 57th in the conference), NC State averages just slightly more yards given up in ACC games (116.33) than overall. The Pack are 12th nationally against the run overall and 16th in total counting just their conference games.
NC State is lead by DL Bradley Chubb. The brother of Georgia running back Nick Chubb, his stats are right in line with BC's Harold Landry in terms of sacks and tackles for loss. Chubb gets a lot of help from DL Darian Roseboro and LB Arius Moore.
The style may be a bit different, but there is a lot of similarity between the BC front seven and the Pack front seven. it is solid, physical group and with Patrick Towles a question mark, the Eagles may need to run more than they do already. Look for the Pack to load up the box even more than usual to stop the BC run.
When Boston College Passes:
Advantage: NC State
Boston College pass offense: 146.1 ypg, 120th in the nation, NC State pass defense: 244.6 ypg, 86th in the nation
Much like last week against Syracuse, this should be a point of strength for BC against a team with a solid pass rush, but who has shown vulnerability against the pass, but with the overall struggles of Towles and his general availability in question, will Darius Wade be able to step up and make a play and if he does, will the receivers be able to hold on to the ball?
Remember, the BC passing attack, which was supposed to be so improved this season has managed just 10 yards more per game this year to date, than last, moving them up only five spots nationally.
NC State averages giving up just 24% on third down in home games and BC figures to be in third and long frequently.
Boston College Keys To Victory:
1. Win the kicking game - NC State has an advantage in the punt game behind AJ Cole who averages 44 yards per kick. BC on the other hand is #122 in punting this season, but the rest of the NC State kicking game is non descript to say the least and the Eagles have shown that they can pop the occasional return with either Tyler Rouse or Myles Willis and Mike Knoll has become consistent, if not artistic, kicking field goals and extra points. Pack kicker Kyle Bambard went through the nightmare game at Clemson missing the game winning FG, but is 5-6 outside that game. BC needs to get the hidden yards to create positive field position situations.
2. Throw the ball on early downs - I wouldn't expect this would happen, particularly if Patrick Towles is out, but BC can't get into third and long all day in this game. Teams that can throw the ball have been able to have success against NC State. Unfortunately, like last week, it is weakness on weakness.
3. Get a NOT - last week the Eagles scored a NOT (non offensive touchdown) in Myles Willis' kickoff return. They nearly had another on what should have been a Matt Milano scoop and score. It just doesn't look like BC will score many points offensively, so they need to continue to find ways to manufacture them.
NC State Keys To Victory:
1. Keep balanced - when you look at NC State offensively, it's not like anything overwhelms you, but there is the beauty of it all. The balance in their offense, not just run/pass, but in who contributes. Definitely a case where the whole exceeds the sum of the parts.
2. Control from the front four - the strength of the NC State defense is the front four. Most teams have had good success against the BC O-Line, expect more of the same.
3. Eyes on the prize - The Louisville game had to take some of the wind of the NC State sails, but this program is going in the right direction and needs to get the bad taste of that game out of their mouth and get focused on their goals of a bowl trip. Being at home should help that mental turnaround.
The Pack have been very good at home and despite not looking overly sexy on offense have put up over 500 yards in three games this season and 400 or more (397 vs Clemson) in two others. Only in the game last week at Louisville and in the hurricane vs Notre Dame has the offense bogged down. From an NC State perspective, the game this most resembles is Wake Forest. Against a poor Demon Deacon offense and a stout defense, NC State put up 527 yards in a comfortable 33-16 win riding 300 yards passing from Ryan Finley. Something similar seems in line.