The season got real Saturday with BC’s 41-34 overtime victory over Missouri.
It gets even more real this weekend as the ACC slate kicks off with a game at Clemson (Saturday, 7:30 PM, ACC Network).
The storyline is a little different from a usual BC-Clemson game in recent years. Normally this game is about Clemson trying to continue its largely-unabated path to the College Football Playoff without BC becoming a speedbump, and the Eagles looking for a program-defining upset.
A BC win would still be an upset (the oddsmakers set Clemson as a 14.5 point favorite for Saturday), but with Clemson reeling from a loss to NC State and down to #25 in the rankings, this is now an early-season marker in the suddenly wide open race for the ACC Atlantic Division:
- Clemson is still the favorite because they’re Clemson (-200 to win the ACC currently). But their loss to NC State in a critical division game doesn’t give them a ton of breathing room to slip up again.
- Wake Forest’s odds are down to +800 to win the ACC and they, along with BC, are one of two undefeated teams in the conference. Wake has cracked the top 25 after wins over FSU and Virginia to open up their ACC slate.
- NC State rocketed to a 9-to-1 shot to win the ACC after their OT win against the Tigers.
- Louisville is at +2500 as their pounding of FSU came on the heels of a fairly impressive nonconference win against UCF.
- BC is still at 30-to-1 odds to win the ACC despite being one of the two undefeated teams in the league (fair enough as BC hasn’t played an ACC game yet).
- Syracuse is a much bigger longshot at 150-to-1, though with their win over Liberty they look a little bit more competitive than most predicted.
- Florida State is bad.
With this coastal-caliber level of uncertainty in the division every in-division game is a “four pointer” in hockey terms, and BC starts their ACC schedule with a pair of big ones in both Clemson and NC State. If the Eagles are going to contend for a division title, we’ll probably know after just two ACC games.
For BC, the focus on the field this will week will mostly be continuing what they did against Missouri after a rocky start to the first quarter. The Eagles’ recipe for success was pounding the ball with their array of running back options, controlling possession, and putting Dennis Grosel in spots to succeed and make plays that fit his skillset.
After Missouri was able to put together some big drives of their own, there remain concerns about the defense (though some big interceptions helped allay some of them). The good news is that Clemson has been struggling to move the ball, scoring a total of 31 points in regulation against 3 power conference opponents this year.
After a 12-for-26, 111 yard outing against NC State, Dabo Swinney was asked if DJ Uiagalelei is still his starting quarterback, and Swinney said “I think DJ is our quarterback,” which isn’t necessarily the most inspiring way to put it.
Dabo Swinney: "This point at 2-2 you look at everything. There’s nothing that you don’t evaluate. But I think DJ is our quarterback."— Grace Raynor (@gmraynor) September 26, 2021
Of course, BC fans won’t soon forget Uiagalelei coming in as the backup in last year’s matchup and going 30-for-41 for 342 yards and 2 TDs to break Eagle hearts after BC put forth a valiant upset bid.
Making things worse for Clemson on the offensive side of the ball is that their brightest light so far, running back Will Shipley, who’s run for 5 touchdowns so far this season, is out for 3-4 weeks with a leg injury.
Clemson being favored is absolutely correct - they should be favored in the ACC until proven otherwise, and going to Death Valley is no easy task regardless of how well Clemson is playing - but this certainly feels like BC’s best chance in this matchup in a long time, and the Eagles will be keen to take advantage.
If they can, you’ll see those ACC odds shift in a hurry.
We’ll be here all week previewing the matchup. Let’s go Eagles!