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Preview: Boston College at Duke

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It’s going to come together and Get In!

FBC-BC-DUKE Chuck Liddy/Raleigh News & Observer/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

These bizarre times have cast a bit of a cloud on the dawn of a new era at Boston College. Nevertheless, week one is upon us! The Eagles head south to Durham for their season opener against Duke, which will take place at noon in a fan-less Wallace Wade stadium.

Coming off a 5-7 season in 2019, the Blue Devils had plenty of eyes on them in their opener last Saturday at Notre Dame—4.32 million viewers tuned in to their 27-13 loss at the hands of the 10th ranked Irish. The final score is a bit misleading; Duke hung around for three quarters, and looked pretty frisky with Clemson transfer Chase Brice under center. Duke and BC were picked 12th and 13th respectively in the ACC preseason poll, so we might be in for a close one.

Boston College enters 2020 with plenty of questions. Jeff Hafley will pace the sidelines as a head coach for the first time, and much-discussed transfer quarterback Phil Jurkovec will *likely* get his first collegiate start. Even with the departure of AJ Dillon and the arrival of a new QB and coordinator, offense appears to be a strength for this team. The well-decorated offensive line will look to clear space for running back David Bailey and exploit a Duke defense that allowed 180.8 rushing yards per game in 2019 (86th in the nation). The Blue Devil pass defense was much better at 199.0 ypg (24th in the nation), so it will be interesting to see how much new OC Frank Cignetti opts to sling it around to his talented group of pass catchers. The trio of Kobay White, Zay Flowers, and OSU transfer Jaelen Gill has the potential to be the best group of Eagles receivers in quite some time.

The Eagles were atrocious on defense in 2019, allowing a whopping 478.7 ypg (125th in the nation), 285.5 passing ypg (122nd), and 32.2 points per game (102nd). Enter Coach Hafley, defensive back whisperer. His Ohio State defense allowed 13.7 ppg (4th), and just 156.0 passing ypg (1st). The BC secondary was plagued by missed tackles and blown coverages, and all reports suggest that Hafley is working to rehab that position group. Duke’s play calling against ND was fairly balanced, 37 passes to 30 rushes, but I expect they’ll take to the air a bit more against BC.

Three intriguing storylines:

  • The quarterback position. Jurkovec looked like a lock to take over the job, but a big fat *OR* was dropped on the official depth chart between his and Dennis Grosel’s names. I still expect Jurkovec to trot out for BC’s first possession and play the majority of the snaps, but we shall see.
  • The secondary. It can’t get much worse than last year, and I expect this group to continue to develop as the season goes on. Opponents will look to test them early and often. Hopefully the guys upfront can bring more pressure than last season, and give those defensive backs a chance to make some plays.
  • David Bailey. It will be fun to see what Bailey can do with a full workload behind a formidable offensive line. He averaged 5.7 yards on 148 carries last season behind Dillon.

Oddsmakers:

Spread: Duke -6 (-110) BC +6 (-110)

Moneyline: Duke -227 BC +187

Over/Under: 52

Weather:

Overcast. High of around 65 with 10-15 mph winds.

Prediction:

After years of stubborn mediocrity, it’s hard to resist Hafley’s invitation to “get in.” I expect the Dukies to come out a bit flat after last Saturday’s turn in the South Bend spotlight. The Eagles catch them sleeping through this noon start and win 27-21.