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Preview: Boston College Football at Syracuse

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Boston College v Syracuse Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

A week after a hard-fought loss at Clemson, Boston College heads to the Carrier Dome for a meeting with familiar foe Syracuse. It has been a rough season for Dino Babers’ Orange squad, which enters nursing a 1-6 record. BC is a two touchdown favorite as I write this, which sounds like a decent value considering Syracuse’s 19.5 average margin of defeat across their six losses.

Sandwiched between games against Clemson and Notre Dame, this is a must have for the 4-3 Eagles. Excluding Notre Dame, BC’s remaining opponents are a combined 4-14, so a 3-1 finish to get to 7-4 is not out of the question. But let’s not get caught looking ahead.

Hampered by injuries, Syracuse has been the worst offensive team in the ACC, scoring just 19.0 points per game, and their defense isn’t much better, allowing 33.3 ppg. I would love to see BC play a clean game in terms of penalties and turnovers, and finally get the ground game going. If Frank Cignetti is looking for a blueprint, last season the Eagles ran for 496 yards and 5 touchdowns against Syracuse. Useful.

Here’s how Cuse and BC match up:

When BC is on Offense:

While they likely won’t repeat the aforementioned 496 yard ground explosion of 2019, there should be plenty of room for the Eagles to run. Syracuse has actually regressed against the rush, allowing an ACC worst 228.3 yards per game, which is up from 201.6 a year ago. BC is the second worst rushing team in the ACC, so something will have to give here. I don’t mind that BC has become a pass heavy offense (I rather enjoy it), but ball carriers are averaging a wildly inefficient 2.9 yards per carry and 94.6 ypg. If you take out Jurkovec’s rushing totals, that ypg drops down to 76.3.

If the Eagles can move the ball with their running backs, even if it’s just for this week, it would give Jurkovec a bit of a break. In his first season as a starter, Jurkovec is leading the ACC in attempts, completions, passing yards, total plays, total yards, and he’s third in touchdowns responsible for. By the end of the Clemson game he appeared to be out of gas, banged up, or maybe a bit of both. Jurkovec has shouldered the load all season, and it’d be awfully nice if David Bailey & Co. could relieve their quarterback of some of that weight this week.

Top Syracuse defensive back Trill Williams announced on Wednesday night that he has opted to forego the remainder of the season and declare for the NFL Draft, further thinning out the Orange defense.

When BC is on Defense:

The only ACC team trailing BC in rushing yards is Syracuse, with 90.9 ypg. The anemic Orange offense also ranks dead last in passing yards (176.3 ypg) and points per game (19.0). Their 267.1 ypg is 91.5 yards fewer than the 14th ranked offense of Pittsburgh. On the other side of the ball, the Boston College defense ranks 6th in the ACC in points allowed per game (26.3), pass defense (235.1 ypg), and total yards (393.0). Those numbers grow more appealing when you consider that the Eagles have already faced each of the top three scoring offenses in the conference.

With QB Tommy DeVito out, it looks like Rex Culpepper will get the start for Syracuse. Culpepper hasn’t been great to this point, completing 46.4% of his passes with 6 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. It’s possible that freshman Jacobian Morgan will see some action; Morgan stepped in last week against Wake and completed all seven of his attempts, including a touchdown pass.

Oddsmakers:

BC: -14

Over/Under: 52.5

Moneyline: BC -600, Syracuse +450

Prediction:

Editor’s Note: I spent a few sentences in the original post waxing poetic about a lovely fall day in Chestnut Hill. It will still be a lovely day, but this football game will not be taking place there! Boston College rolls, 38-17.

Apologies, I’m losing it—it’s been a long week!