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Preview: Boston College Football at Virginia Tech

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Matt Ryan is catching a lot of heat this week, so let’s pause and remember Ryan to Callender

Boston College v Virginia Tech Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Boston College (3-1) is currently a 12 point underdog on the road at Virginia Tech (2-1), and if I had a bookie, or even the faintest understanding of bitcoin, I would be about that action. Of VT’s three match-ups this season, BC has played two common opponents: North Carolina and Duke. In those games BC had a +16 point differential compared to VT’s -4. You can quibble with the validity of the transitive property, or try to quantify what a home game means in 2020, either way, 12 is a lot of points! Especially considering BC has won the last two meetings between these teams.

The Hokies enter the week ranked 23rd in the country, which means the Eagles have an opportunity to put a major hallmark of The Era of Numbing Mediocrity in the rear-view mirror. BC is currently mired in a 16 game losing streak against ranked opponents, with their last win coming against #9 Southern California in 2014. Worse yet, BC hasn’t defeated a ranked team on the road since the Bush administration (W., but still), when they took down #20 Florida State in Tallahassee back in 2008. There’s undoubtedly a new energy around the program, and a win in Blacksburg would vanquish a few lingering demons.

When BC is on Offense:

There’s been much consternation about Boston College’s running game, which has tumbled from 254.2 yards per game in 2019 to 60.3 so far this season. Obviously, there’s been more emphasis on the throw game than in recent years, but the Eagles are averaging a measly 1.9 yards per carry—dead last in the nation. Whether their struggles are a result of position shuffling or a new blocking scheme, the offensive line looks completely out of sorts. We’ll see if they can right the ship against Virginia Tech’s defense, which ranks 14th in the ACC against the rush, allowing 225.7 ypg and 5.5 ypc.

The Hokies are allowing an ACC worst 484.0 ypg and 37.0 points per game, so even if BC continues to struggle on the ground, the Eagles should put up some points. Phil Jurkovec has been slinging it in his first four career starts, and although he’s made a few poor decisions, you have to be pleased with a 65.1 completion percentage, coupled with 8 touchdowns to just 2 interceptions. Boston College has done an excellent job protecting the football; their .8 turnovers per game is 11th best in the nation. The VT secondary will have their hands full on Saturday: Hunter Long and Zay Flowers are currently the 1st and 2nd receiving yards leaders in the ACC. Flowers turned more than a few heads with his three touchdown performance last week, garnering him a spot on the Biletnikoff Award Watch List.

When BC is on Defense:

Good on you if you’ve managed to erase the name Khalil Herbert from your memory. Back in 2019, while enrolled at Kansas, Herbert torched BC to the tune of 11 carries for 187 yards and a TD. As luck would have it, Herbert transferred to Virginia Tech, where he’s averaging a pedestrian 10.2 ypc on 44 attempts. The Eagles have defended the run fairly well thus far, allowing 135.8 ypg. Isaiah McDuffie and Max Richardson are ranked #1 and #2 in total tackles in the ACC, and they’ll need to be on the ball in order to contain Herbert and a Hokie rushing attack that’s churning out 299.3 ypg.

Oregon transfer quarterback Braxton Burmeister started the first three games for the Hokies, but Hendon Hooker will get the nod against BC. Hooker missed the first two games due to COVID, but gave VT a huge boost when he was inserted in the second half at UNC, throwing for two TDs and running in another. The Boston College secondary got a bit dinged up last week, but based on the depth chart, it looks like all of the starters are ready to go. Coach Hafley has done an excellent job with that unit, as they are already light years ahead of where they were last year, with largely the same personnel. Brandon Sebastian leads the ACC in passes defended, and Josh DeBerry is coming off an excellent performance against Pitt.

Oddsmakers:

BC: +12

Over/Under: 62

Moneyline: BC +320, VT -435

Prediction:

We’re in for a high scoring affair. Virginia Tech does not have a very good defense, and I think we see some signs of life from the BC running game. On the flip side, BC will have a difficult time stopping Herbert. My heart could use a break from all these frenetic finishes, but I fear we’re in for another close one. Give me BC getting off the ranked opponent schneid: 38-35 Eagles.