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Boston College v UNC Football Preview

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Texas State Bobcats vs. Boston College Eagles at Alumni Stadium Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Game Preview

BC takes on UNC in the third game of the season. It’s only UNC’s second game of the season, but first in three weeks after a second game was cancelled due to COVID.

UNC Offense

In their opening game, the Tar Heels rode a fourth quarter explosion to handle Syracuse 31-6. Quarterback Sam Howell threw for 295 yards and a touchdown, but also tossed two interceptions. Now AP #12 UNC has lofty expectations this year, as we discussed with our counterparts at UNC a couple of months ago. This is a very dangerous Air-Raid offense with Howell at the helm. Howell is looking to build on a impressive freshman season. He has an impressive arm and can throw the ball all over the field. They return two, 1,000 yard wide receivers in Dyami Brown and Dazz Newsome, who combined for 22(!) touchdowns. Both have great speed and can separate, and will be a handful. On the ground they feature another two-headed attack with Michael Carter and Javonte Williams. They combined for nearly 2,000 yards last season. Carter had 78 yards in the opener and is very dangerous out of the backfield as well, and Williams runs with power, capitalizing on three fourth quarter touchdowns.

UNC has a very large offensive line too. They only gave up two sacks on the day along with two hurries against Syracuse. While they are by no means the strength of the team, possibly actually the biggest weakness, they are still serviceable and BC hasn’t exactly generated much pressure yet. They will need to prevent back-breaking big plays, particularly on the ground, against this versatile offense.

UNC Defense

On defense, UNC generated seven sacks and nine QB hurries on the Orange. All-ACC linebacker Chazz Surratt recorded two sacks and is the name to watch. The Tar Heels lost some key cogs on the defensive line, but they still have pieces to retool and have size and speed to cause problems and generate pressure. Still, this must be a game the BC offensive line dominates. Their secondary had a slew of injuries last season, but return a stronger unit. Despite a handful of opt-outs, they still boast plenty of depth at the position and a whole lot of athleticism. The team will lean on coverage skills to help their young defensive line grow.

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BC has to come out strong here unlike the first two games. UNC has played just one game this season and it was three weeks ago. BC has played only two, but they should have most of their sea legs under them after consecutive games. If UNC comes out flat as they did against Syracuse, BC needs to take advantage before the UNC offense inevitably clicks. Mack Brown will likely have his team much sharper this time around, so I think it comes down to ball control. The BC offensive line has to really come together and dominate. Jurkovec can’t come out uncomfortable and some semblance of a run game needs to re-appear. The Tar Heel offense is going to score points, and probably tire out a BC defense that is still waiting on the status of safety Deon Jones. UNC muffed a punt and had two interceptions in game one, so the Eagles need to capitalize on any rust the Tar Heels show after a mini-break. For the Eagle offense, it’s about consistency. There cannot be lulls as there have been in the first two outings.

Other Notes

Coach Jeff Hafley has a connection with Tar Heels Co-Defensive Coordinator/Safeties Jay Bateman, with Bateman having been his head coach while he still played at Siena. He also started coaching under him for a short period before accepting his first role.

BC has yet to beat UNC in conference play (0-4) (but two were technically vacated).

Defensive back Storm Duck has an amazing name.

Joe Tessitore will be on the broadcast for the Eagles, so we should get some love.

Oddsmakers

BC is a 13.5 point underdog in this one, and +400 straight up

The over/under is at 54 points

Prediction

UNC 38 - BC 27

Post-Game Narrative

I think we come out of this game with some new found respect. After starting out quite flat against Texas State and squeaking out a victory, BC puts together its first complete performance of the season. While they came up short in the end, they pushed UNC for much of the contest and proved they won’t be a pushover against the ranked teams of the conference.