Boston College Football is riding high on a four-game win streak that has them at 5-3 on the season heading into the stretch run of ACC play. The Eagles head to New York to take on the struggling Syracuse Orange, whose embattled head coach Dino Babers needs a win after dropping four straight.
The Orange, after a 4-0 start, are now 4-4 and winless in ACC play. Last week, they were destroyed 38-10 on the road at Virginia Tech. After a promising start to the season, the offense has stalled. The loss of star TE/WR Oronde Gadsden has undoubtedly hurt the Orange, with QB Garrett Schrader lacking reliable weapons in the passing game. Damien Alford leads the team with 389 yards, but has just one TD to his name; Gadsden was amongst the best of the ACC last year in the passing game. Nevertheless, Shrader is a threat with his legs, and mobile QBs always give BC fits. Syracuse’s offense against BC’s defense will, I think, determine the outcome of the game. Syracuse’s pass game is not very strong (Shrader has not passed for over 286 yards in a game), but BC’s secondary has been incredibly inconsistent this season. If BC’s defense can impose itself, and prevent Shrader as well as leading rusher LeQuint Allen (553 yards, 7 TDs) I like BC’s chances.
Syracuse defensively leaves much to be desired, as well. In their ongoing four-game losing streak, the Orange have given up at least 31 in every contest, with at least 40 in two (albeit against FSU and UNC). They give up almost 400 yards a game, although only 150 of those YPG are against the rush. Provided Thomas Castellanos is healthy and ready to go, the Eagles’ dominant O-line and rushing attack will need to assert themselves early before going to a passing attack agains the weaker Syracuse pass defense (250 YPG allowed). Limiting turnovers and controlling the ball will be key.
This, to me, feels like a turning point for the Eagles. It is Syracuse’s Family Weekend game; the Dome should be loud and the Orange need a win in the worst way. I expect them to come out firing, especially with their coach on the hottest seat in the ACC and in a prime-time Friday night game as well. Sure, the Eagles have won four straight. The vibes are good, but all of those wins are against moderate to downright bad competition. I feel like BC is the better team, but they need to show it. If they come out flat, as they seemingly always do, they will lose. Hafley needs to have the guys ready to play and if he does not, I will know nothing has really changed in the program despite the recent successes. In some ways, then, this is a major game for both teams. I think BC is probably more talented on the field, but Syracuse is at home and needing a win. In a coin flip, I’ll take BC with the points.
Picks: BC +2.5, O 51