Boston College preview: No. 22 NC State (4-1) @ Boston College (4-1)

LINE: NC State -3 (O/U 51)


The penalties

It’s simple, has just about a weekly spot here and might be the most cliche answer in all of sports, but after the 10-penalty performance totaling 60 yards against Clemson, it’s still an issue for this team. The noise was obviously a factor, but head coach Jeff Hafley continues to say he’s not an excuse guy. If the Eagles cost themselves like they did in Death Valley, particularly in the fourth quarter, it’ll be hard to ignore the problem much longer. That’s not to say it’s an every game thing because it’s most certainly not, but it does seem to lurk in the biggest games at inopportune times over the past two years…

2.) Garwo, Levy & Sinkfield

Again, it’s a little cliche, but BC’s running game must be a factor tonight. The Eagles had 46 rushing yards TOTAL against Clemson and somehow nearly won the game. I can’t imagine that’ll be the case tonight since NC State is averaging 434 yards of offense a game. The three-headed monster of Pat Garwo, Travis Levy and Alec Sinkfield have all shown the ability to make explosive plays in the running game and on special teams and one, if not all three, need to play big roles tonight. If the rain moves in a little earlier than the apps are predicting (who watches the weather on TV anymore?) it’ll be even more imperative for the RB’s to make some noise.

3.) Keep feeding Trae Barry

I feel like I’m the only one driving the Barry hype train, but this kid is a serious weapon that needs to be utilized more often. It’s hard to find someone that can cover a a 6’6, 244lb tight end one-on-one and his seven catch, 82-yard show against Clemson was just a small glimpse of how good he can be in this offense. It feels like he should be even more of a security blanket for Grosel and with Jalen Gill returning from injury and the usual Flowers, Lewis and White trio always providing matchup problems with their speed, Barry could be a huge piece of the puzzle for BC’s ACC title game dreams over the final month of the season.


1.) Limit Devin Leary

Probably easier said than done, but this actually might be the biggest test yet for this BC secondary. The entire unit was incredible against Clemson, but I’m not sure they’ve seen a true test in terms of guys who like to stand in and throw until now. Leary has just 21 rushing attempts this year and in three of those games he had negative yardage. This kid is a true pocket passer who actually thrives on the road. Leary has completed 61% of his passes and has a 115.8 passer rating away from home this season. Josh DeBerry, Brandon Sebastian, Jason Maitre, Vinny DePalma and company are establishing themselves as an elite ACC secondary, but this one will go a long way in proving it emphatically.

2.) Limit Zonovan Knight

Leary will chuck the ball around the yard, but Knight is a big factor too. The sophomore running back has 462 yards on 71 carries, which doesn’t jump off the page, but if BC makes NC State one dimensional – especially if the bad weather moves in early – it’ll be huge and allow Tem Lukabu to truly hone in on Leary. In five games this season Knight has carried the ball 11 or more times in four of them (23 carries in a win over Clemson) so the Wolfpack clearly aren’t afraid to put the game in his hands if need be.

3.) Take advantage of what should be an electric atmosphere

7:30 under the lights in what will be coach Hafley’s first true experience at Alumni Stadium in prime time? If this place doesn’t shake tonight like it did against Missouri when Levy gave BC the lead in the fourth quarter then something went wrong. From a national perspective, the BC fan base has an opportunity tonight to show the country it can be a legitimate college football region. If the defense can feed off that energy, create turnovers and rattle NC State it could be a big night.

FINAL PREDICTION: Boston College 24, NC State 21

The one thing we didn’t mention above as a key to the game is special teams. I think both offenses will struggle to score in the first half before a bit of an offensive explosion in the second half. Grant Carlson will be big in the field position battle (as usual) and Connor Lytton could be the X factor tonight. I think the Eagles finally get their first win over a top 25 team since the USC game that feels like forever ago. Lytton wins it with a walk off and we get another field storming.