On Saturday night, Boston College welcomes NC State to Alumni Stadium for the biggest game of the year.
This comes just after the game at Clemson was the biggest game of the year; prior to that, Missouri was the biggest game of the year.
And if BC wins on Saturday, Louisville becomes the biggest game of the year - in the way every game becomes big when the stakes feel high and there’s so much to play for.
But with a loss? With a loss on Saturday, the season is far from over, but it starts to feel more like the quest for 7 wins rather than a push for anything special - a division title, or otherwise. Saturday’s game will be a challenging one against a quality NC State team, but it’s also one of those 50-50 games at home that you’ve just got to win if you want to put together a special season.
ESPN’s Football Power Index projects BC as an 8-4 team at this point. But there are a lot of close swing games that can flip that in either direction - and there’s a big difference in terms of both perception and potential postseason landing spot between, say, 7 and 9 wins.
This is the only remaining home game where BC’s “win probability” is under 50% (listed at 45.0%), so it’s a pretty big swing matchup - as always seems to be the case when BC plays NC State.
BC vs. NC State storylines
-Divisional clash: The Wolfpack come in at 4-1 (1-0 ACC) and have every right to consider themselves prime competitors with Clemson and Wake Forest for the ACC division title, and will be similarly be looking at this as one of those 50/50 games you have to win. They’re a slight road favorite in this matchup (-2.5).
-Defenses exceeding expectations: In our preseason preview of this matchup, we figured this one had the makings of an offensive slugfest. Do we still think that way after the start of each team’s season?
The story for each team has actually been the defense this far, with NC State having the 2nd best scoring defense in the ACC so far behind Clemson (15.8 points per game). BC is just behind them in third (16.8).
-Establishing the run: NC State has been ferocious against the run, with the league’s leading rushing defense, meaning BC is going to have to go strength-on-strength if they’re going to do what they were able to do so successfully in their wins this season and get their run game, led by Pat Garwo, established as the tempo-setters of the game.
-Health: Unlike Clemson, which came in to the matchup against BC banged up, the Wolfpack have a fairly clean bill of health and come in off a bye week just like BC. For the Eagles, we’ll have an eye on Tyler Vrabel’s status. He’s still an unknown for this week - he’s listed on the depth chart but there hasn’t been a substantive update on the status of the knee injury that knocked him out of the Clemson game.
Boston College vs. NC State
Saturday, October 16
Kickoff: 7:30 PM
Tailgate: 3:30 PM
TV: ACC Network
Tickets: Get ‘em while they’re hot (there appears to be moderate availability of tickets at this point, confined to the upper deck). Based on the current seat map, it looks like we have a good chance of seeing another big 40K crowd, even up against both the Red Sox in the ALCS and the Bruins home opener (we will see if that ends up impacting things).