Well, well, well, things have become awfully interesting the past 24 hours haven’t they?
News broke Thursday night that Clemson quarterback and potentially the No. 1 pick in this year’s NFL Draft Trevor Lawrence had tested positive for Covid. This of course eliminates a huge piece of the puzzle for the Tigers as they get set to host the Eagles on Saturday.
The line on this game opened at 32 and has plummeted to 24 in some spots. What that means is that people still have little respect for BC’s ability to keep the game within three touchdowns, but it also means that backup quarterback and true freshman DJ Uiagalelei is a lot better than that “true freshman” tag would lead you to believe.
Here is everything else you need to know heading into the biggest week of the year for the Eagles:
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE G-TECH WIN
Aside from 10 more penalties, the 48-27 win over Georgia Tech was the closest thing to a complete game BC has had all season. The running game got going to the tune of 264 total yards on the ground, and the defense only gave up points due to a lack of discipline on some drives.
Perhaps most importantly, the Eagles offense held the ball for 33 minutes, something BC will absolutely have to do again against Clemson, even with Lawrence out.
Coach Hafley met with the media Sunday morning to put a bow on the Yellow Jackets’ matchup before turning full attention to the Tigers.
“In the second half, we came out and took the play clock down to five every single snap and that was on purpose,” Hafley said of the clock management during the blowout win. “You always want to eliminate possessions, plus I liked the way we were moving the ball. I’m still a defensive guy so, all I’m ever thinking about is possessions.”
As for the running game, Hafley had continuously told reporters and anyone else who would listen that it ws coming soon. It’s hard not to believe him now. The best part about the ground performance was David Bailey’s 85 yards and two TD’s. Hafley and Bailey’s teammates have continued to applaud his patience this season and it paid off.
““I’m really proud, I gave him a game ball,” Hafley said of Bailey after the game. “I said to the team, the game ball wasn’t just for his 85 yards and two touchdowns tonight, it’s for how he’s handled himself and how he’s been a great teammate. How he hasn’t flinched, or how he hasn’t pointed fingers, or coming up to me and asking ‘Coach, why am I not getting the football?’ Just epitomizes what this team is all about, and how they believe in each other.”
O’ROURKE/McFADDEN TROPHY UP FOR GRABS
For those that don’t know, the O’Rourke/McFadden Trophy is awarded to the winner of this game. The first game between these two schools was all the way back in 1940, but the trophy didn’t come into play until 2008. Saturday will be the 30th time the two programs have met overall, with Clemson holding an 18-9-2 advantage over BC, including the last nine straight.
Coach Hafley was asked if he was up to speed on what this matchup means historically.
“Jason (Baum) sent me a whole email about the helmet and the tradition. It’s pretty cool to see,” he said. “Anything that revolves around tradition around here, I definitely want to stick to. There’s great tradition here, and we need to do that.”
Ironically enough, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney’s first victory as a head coach was against Boston College in 2008 and this was the first trophy he’d ever won as a head coach.
“I’m sure (the game) is one I’ll never forget,” said Hafley. “I’m sure it’s one he’ll never forget. Even though it seems like he’s won about 1000 games. But, it’s cool that was his first one. Coach Swinney has done an unbelievable job there. I got a chance to meet him last year at the bowl game. Him and his wife were really nice to me as a young coach, as a guy getting ready to try to win a game and trying to put a staff together for the first time, he was awesome. So, I have a ton of respect for him and the way he treated me this offseason.”
BC LOOKING FOR FIRST WIN AGAINST A TOP RANKED TEAM SINCE 1993
Yup. The win over Notre Dame was the last time Boston College beat a top-ranked team. Obviously not having Trevor Lawrence on the other side of the field makes the proposition of stunning the top dog (or Tiger) much more plausible, but even before the Eagles had learned of that news there was quite a bit of excitement and confidence flowing throughout the Heights this week.
“Obviously it’s always exciting when going up against good competition, but I think this week we’re really trying to focus on ourselves like we did last week,” said Luc Bequette. “Not necessarily focus on the other team as much but make sure we have everything under control penalty wise, scheme wise and all round. They’re guys just like us, they put in work just like we do and I think it’s just going to come down to us being mentally and physically prepared.”
““We have nothing to lose, right? We’re going to go in there and let it rip,” Hafley told WEEI’s OMF show on Thursday afternoon. “I’m not gonna be scared. We’re not gonna be scared. We’re not gonna backdown… This should be the most fun we have coaching and playing that we’ve had all year”
As much as the Eagles and the coaching staff can preach about only focusing on themselves, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that playing the top team in the country automatically means it’s more than an ordinary week.
“It’s different, but, we have to treat it like another week,” said Phil Jurkovec. “Knowing that if we don’t play well, if we don’t execute, we know what this team is capable of doing. You have it in the back of your minds but, we can’t change ourselves and what we do best. We can’t change just for this game.”
HAFLEY’S EXPERIENCE AGAINST CLEMSON HASN’T BEEN VERY FUN
Last year when Hafley was the Ohio State defensive coordinator the Buckeyes lost a heartbreaker against the Tigers in the CFB playoffs. So, is there anything Hafley can take from that game that may help the Eagles?
“I spent a lot of time game planning against them last year, obviously it didn’t work out too well,” he joked. “I’ll look through my notes and I’ll continue to watch them and we’ll try to put together the best plan we can. I definitely have all my notes and have probably watched that game too many times and probably had nightmare about it too many times, but here it is so we’ll get ready and prepare the best we can.”
SO, DOES BC HAVE A CHANCE AT SLOWING DOWN THIS CLEMSON OFFENSE AND PULLING OFF THE UPSET?
Well, of course they do now with Lawrence out. However, there’s a reason the Eagles are still 24-point dogs in this one. Clemson is much more than just a one-man team. Perhaps the best player in the country that doesn’t get nearly enough credit or hype is Travis Etienee. Etienee has a little over 500 yards and is 15th in the country in rushing. Wide receiver Amari Rodgers could also be a problem. Rodgers is 10th in the country in receiving (32 catches, 520 yards) and the BC staff knows how dangerous they can still be even without Lawrence.
“The running back is the most underrated football player in college football,” he said. “The way he runs, he just looks like he’s on a mission constantly. I saw it first-hand last year while watching them on tape. Between the coaching staff, the weapons, they have the wide outs, it’s a dynamic offense. But we’re going to do our best to stop it and line up. I think Coach Tem (Lukabu) has put together a great plan with our defensive staff. We’re going to continue to work on doing the best we can down there. I’m excited for the challenge.”
If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s never underestimate how weird things can get. With a full blue moon set for Saturday night – which just so happens to be on Halloween – in Death Valley, I wouldn’t be stunned if BC shocks the world given the crazy circumstances now surrounding this game.
Final prediction: BC 38, Clemson 35. Aaron Boumerhi walks it off and the Eagles head to Syracuse at 5-2 and as a Top 25 team in the country.