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2023 Boston College Football Opponent Preview: Holy Cross

Hello old friends

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 08 EBW Classic - Bucknell vs Holy Cross Photo by Erica Denhoff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Boston College football will host the Holy Cross Crusaders for Week 2 of the 2023 season, a local and historic rivalry game. Despite how this match-up played out back in 2018 when BC won 62-14, 2023’s game may not be as lopsided as you think.

When: Saturday September 9th at 12pm ET

Where: Alumni Stadium, Chestnut Hill, MA

Holy Cross Overview

Lehigh Mountain Hawks (14) Vs. Holy Cross Crusaders (42) At Fitton Field Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

First, it’s important to mention that Holy Cross plays in the FCS. BC, along with most FBS schools, typically schedule one FCS opponent early in the season as a tune-up game that they can win comfortably. But the big boys don’t always win, and Holy Cross has proven itself to be a worthy opponent in recent years. In the 2022 regular season, the Crusaders went a perfect 11-0 for the first time in 31 years before eventually losing to #1 South Dakota State in the second round of the FCS playoffs. They’ve won four straight Patriot League titles and haven’t lost a game in their own conference since 2019. And in the past two seasons, Holy Cross has defeated both of its FBS opponents: Buffalo and UConn.

Head coach Bob Chesney has built the Holy Cross offense into an FCS powerhouse. In 2022, they boasted the 8th-best scoring offense in all of the FCS, led by their premier rushing attack. Senior QB Matthew Sluka is returning after racking up an insane 95 rushing and 191 passing yards per game. His dual-threat capability was backed up by a duo of RBs with 1,000+ and 500+ yards on the season, respectively. While lead rusher Peter Oliver won’t be returning in 2023, RB Jordan Fuller got plenty of touches last season and is primed to take lead back duties this season. All together, they were the 6th-best FCS rushing attack in the nation in 2023.

Defensively, Holy Cross is not spectacular but they are certainly respectable. In the 2022 FCS, they had a top-25 defense, a top-20 rushing defense, and were one of the best teams in the nation in turnover margin, exploiting their opponents’ mistakes and capitalizing frequently with scores. Statistically they had a middling passing defense, but that can partially be explained by their 11-0 record: their opponents are almost always losing, so they are almost always passing the ball!

How Does BC Match Up?

Louisville v Boston College Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images

The Boston College Eagles have the talent to win this game, plain and simple. The big question is execution. My two keys to the game are this:

  • Can Emmett Morehead limit the fumbles that plagued him last season as a rookie? Holy Cross could take advantage of an inexperienced Morehead’s turnovers and turn this game into a slugfest. The Eagles’ new full-time QB needs to take care of the ball.
  • Can the BC defense adapt to Holy Cross’s diverse rushing attack? BC’s linebacker unit is probably their weakest position group (outside of OL) and could find themselves getting torched outside of the tackle box by all of those rushing threats.

Preseason Prediction

Louisville v Boston College Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images

I still expect the Eagles to come out of this one with a win, but not one that looks like the 48-point demolition they gave the Crusaders back in 2018. In particular, BC’s talented receivers should break free quite a bit and score some long TDs over the slower Holy Cross defense.

Final Score: Boston College 38 Holy Cross 17