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Final Thoughts and Prediction: BC vs Syracuse

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NCAA Football: Boston College at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Game News and Notes

Boston’s College (4-3, 0-3) visits the Carrier Dome this Saturday at 3:30PM. Syracuse (4-4, 1-3) picked up their first conference win of the season last weekend against Virginia Tech, while BC has faltered after an undefeated start. Not good. Cuse may have four losses, but they have had a quarterback change and still played within a field goal in each of the ACC losses.

The big news of the week was the quarterback decision. By Tuesday, Coach Hafley had made a decision, but withheld the actual announcement. Perhaps a bit of gamesmanship, but it’s clear you should expect to see Dennis Grosel remain at the helm. Hafley said it wasn’t a hard decision after he looked over the film. The trust is still there, now it’s a matter of the play-calling to play to his strengths better and the execution to greatly improve.

Injury News

Two big injuries to keep an eye on. All we learned was that Brandon Sebastian and Trae Barry were day-to-day. Their statuses were similar to that of Tyler Vrabel over the past few weeks. Barry avoided a very serious injury, while Sebastian’s was known right away. Both sustained lower body injuries and we’ll next hear about this in the hours before game time. Freshman corner Shawn Asbury is also out for the season with a broken arm, which means transfer JT Thompson will see much more action. Receivers CJ Lewis and Kobay White were both out last weekend, and no updates on that front either. A whole lot to find out Saturday.

Matchups to Watch

This game will come down to how BC can combat Syracuse’s rushing attack. Sean Tucker is leading the nation in rushing yards with over 1000 yards, and second on a per game basis (132.5). Quarterback Garrett Shrader has nearly 600 yards himself though. We know how the Eagles have struggled with mobile quarterbacks. They’ll need to execute better than last week and can’t afford having the gaps we’ve been seeing.

The Eagles need to be consistent on the ground to win the game as they have at the Dome the past two years. With how aggressive the Orange will attack Grosel, the line will have to step up big both in protection and to make sure the back doesn’t run right into said pressure. In the ‘throw game,’ replicate what the first drive against Louisville looked like. Quick passes and Zay gets touches. It worked brilliantly, but after that it was sprinkled in sparingly.

Stats Corner

SP+ only favors Syracuse by 2.7 points with a 30-27 projection. Very kind. But some Football Outsiders Stats see it 33-21 handing BC only a 20% win probability.

As lauded as Syracuse has been rushing, their offensive success rate passing is neck and neck with BC’s (which is bad). The ground game of course skews Orange 43.8% to 40.1%.

Oddsmakers

BC +6.5

o/u 50.5

BC+200 / Cuse -250

Prediction

I ended up going 31-24 Syracuse this week, but I’ll knock ‘em down to 28-24 so we can cover. I don’t believe Syracuse can get that far in front to put more pressure on the BC offense, and do expect BC to continue to run effectively against them as they have the last few years. Maybe special teams or defense can get a score. Who knows. As pessimistic as we are about the BC offense, I can’t say I’m a big believer in the Syracuse defense. The last three defenses the Eags have faced have been exceptional (our offense aside). In the end though, I just can’t see Grosel making those extra few plays to continue to keep the Eagles in the entire game.

The Narrative

DEFCON ~3. It’s not as dire as last week. Maybe because things have sunk in more. The Eagles offense wasn’t as inept as it has been since the start of ACC play, but they didn’t change any hearts or minds either. One deep pass connection though!!!!!!!! Hafley’s squad will home still frustrated, but still feels confident in their ability to make a few more tweaks to pick up that first conference win. Syracuse’s rushing attack proved just too much for a tired Eagles defense.

Wow, the Carrier Dome was particularly quiet!