The first two weeks of the Boston College football season were a little unusual in their own way; they were essentially a pair of neutral site games. The regular grind of the season begins in earnest with an honest-to-goodness road game on Saturday, and where else to get thrown in to that fire but Lane Stadium?
This is, needless to say, a huge game for BC. It will certainly be a tough test; the Eagles were installed as 6.5 point underdogs this week, and that sounds about right. But if BC has made the kind of improvement we all hope and expect they’ve made from last season to this season, they should be able to be competitive with Virginia Tech, who went 7-6 last season.
You never want to make assumptions, but let’s just say most people think that it’s about 90% certain that BC’s next two games after this one will be wins against Wagner and Buffalo at home; then, most would probably agree BC is looking at a loss the following week against Clemson.
That means that Saturday’s game is potentially the difference between going in to a bye week after Clemson at 4-2, as opposed to 3-3 (with a donut hole still in ACC play) - with a pair of winnable games in Syracuse and NC State coming shortly thereafter.
This weekend’s game is going to set the tone for that next stretch of the season and dramatically change the narrative. Picking up a conference win - and a road win, no less - would do wonders for the attitude around the program. Let’s hope BC can repeat what they did in 2014 the last time they went to Lane Stadium, and come away with a win.
This Week’s Top Three Storylines:
1. Establishing the run game: It’s a little bit unusual to be looking at BC football and thinking that the passing game is ahead of the running game, but that’s where we’re at. With the exception of one solid rushing touchdown by Jon Hilliman, UMass effectively stacked the box and prevented BC’s fleet of running backs from being able to control the tempo against inferior opposition. If BC is going to be a good road team, it’s going to come from maintaining solid time of possession - and that starts with a solid ground game. It needs to be better this week.
2. The kicking, yet again: According to Steve Addazio’s postgame comments, Mike Knoll got the call on Saturday because Lichtenberg was injured after the game in Ireland. If that’s the case, Addazio will have a decision to make against Virginia Tech, because Knoll successfully hit three field goals on Saturday against UMass (though he did uphold a BC tradition by missing an extra point). Look out and see if the Depth Chart provides any answers to this question.
3. VT’s dual-threat QB: JuCo transfer Jerod Evans has won the starting QB job for Virginia Tech this season, and he’s looked pretty solid so far in limited action. He came to VT with a reputation for being a dual-threat QB and has shown some adeptness through the air so far. He's 40 for 60, with 435 yards, 5 TD and 0 picks - a solid start to his D1 career. He wasn’t very effective on the ground against Tennessee, but at this point you’re assuming teams are planning to focus more on passing against BC anyway.
Last Three Matchups:
2015 - Virginia Tech 26, @ Boston College 10 - This game showed just how far BC had fallen, as a struggling Virginia Tech team came to town and slapped around the Eagles, putting up a big lead early and never looking back
2014- Boston College 33, @ Virginia Tech 31 - The Eagles sealed bowl eligibility with a dramatic win in Blacksburg, as Tyler Murphy broke a big run late to end Virginia Tech’s hopes of a comeback win.
2013 - Boston College 34, Virginia Tech 27 - It was in the midst of Peak Andre Williams as Andre ran for 166 yards and 2 TD against the Hokies.
Songs of the Week:
1. The Kinks - Tired of Waiting
I don’t think the subtext here needs much explanation. The longer the conference losing streak goes on for BC, the more the pressure is going to build each game. No more waiting!
2. The Smiths - Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want
Are we starting to notice a theme here?
3. Taylor Swift - Blank Space
Posting this not as the interlude to a reaction GIF, but to point out “Blank Space” was #1 on the Billboard Top 40 last time BC won an ACC football game - November 29, 2014.
This week’s #1? Ride, by 21 Pilots. Which I’m pretty sure I’ve never heard of. But let’s hope it becomes the answer to a different trivia question!