This has been a very different kind of season for Virginia Tech. I can’t remember a season where the offense has been asked to carry the defense like they have this season. As I mentioned in my season preview, this defense was always going to be young and inexperienced. But you add on dismissals and injuries and this defense looks pretty thin at a lot of positions. Give this defense another year of experience and recruiting, I think things will be okay but for now hold on to your butts.
Overall S&P+ Rank: 55th
Offensive S&P+ Rank: 24th
Defensive S&P+ Rank: 91st 👀
Special Teams S&P+ Rank: 10th
Overall S&P+ Rank: 38th
Offensive S&P+ Rank: 69th
Defensive S&P+ Rank: 32nd
Special Teams S&P+ Rank: 88th
This Boston College team is exactly what you expect from Boston College – great defense and a strong running game. AJ Dillon is going to be a handful. He’s is rated as one of the top running backs in the nation. He leads the team with 807 rushing yards and 7 rushing touchdowns. His physical running style will make life difficult on Virginia Tech’s defense. Expect him to get a heavy workload on Saturday.
Boston College’s defense is ranked 16th in Passing Efficiency Defense. Which means they don’t give up a lot thru the air. If you want to consistently get yards against this defense, you need to do it on the ground – something Virginia Tech hasn’t been particularly good at this year. This defense also wreaks havoc in the backfield piling up tackles for loss and sacks. This is a game where the Hokies need to avoid getting in long yardage situations. Watch out for Wyatt Ray coming off the edge.
This is another bad matchup for the Hokies. The Hokies defensive personnel are on the smaller end in size but they are quick. That can work against spread teams like Duke and UNC. But against teams that will line up and smack you in the mouth like Georgia Tech and Boston College – not so much. Since the Boston College is a more traditional, pro-style offense the Hokies will have more success than last week against Georgia Tech. But it’s still a terrible matchup and the Hokies will need to outscore Boston College to hope to win. Likely into the 30s, if not the 40s.
Prediction: Boston College 38, Virginia Tech 24
Hokie Nation did a fantastic job last Saturday. GameDay looked great. Enter Sandman looked great. The ESPN folks went out of their way to talk about how great the atmosphere was. We don’t get that kind of love from ESPN very often. You can tell they still like our program but they are still waiting for us to be “back”. If the Hokies can get back to winning 10 games consistently again, there will be more ESPN love and GameDay appearances in our future.
Overall S&P+ ranking: 22nd
Offensive S&P+ ranking: 64th
Defensive S&P+ ranking: 10th
Special Teams S&P+ ranking: 84th
Overall S&P+ ranking: 96th
Offensive S&P+ ranking: 124th
Defensive S&P+ ranking: 33rd
Special Teams S&P+ ranking: 62nd
This isn’t the tough as nails Boston College we’re used to. Trips to Boston in the past have given the Hokies a lot of trouble. Between 2006 and 2013, the Hokies lost 3 out of 4 trips to Chestnut Hill. After a big win in 2015 and two straight in the series, it looks like those days are in the rearview.
Boston College has struggled with recruiting in recent years and it’s starting to show on the field. The defense is still good but the offensive can’t do much… at all (see the offensive S&P+ ranking above). The most points they’ve scored in a game this year is 28 last week against Central Michigan. Against Power 5 opponents this year, they are averaging 12 points per game. Ouch.
In games like this I like to look at what the opponent does well. Boston College has a very strong pass defense only giving up 154 yards per game thru the air. The Hokies will need to move the ball on the ground to move the chains consistently. BC has also forced 7 interceptions in 5 games, which is 3 better than the Hokies have this year. When BC gets into the red zone, they score 87.5% of the time (56.3% TD). They also have a dangerous punt returner who is averaging more than 18 yard per return.
Other than that, BC is not a dangerous team this year. There is a reason the Hokies are favored by 16.5 points. Their stats remind me more of what we usually see from UVA than what we’ve been used to from BC. Simply put, they don’t have the offensive firepower to consistently put points on the board. Much less against a defense like the Hokies. But their defense is good enough to keep them in the game. Likely into the 2nd half and maybe into the 4th quarter if they play like they did against Clemson. But ultimately, if the defense is on the field too long, they will wear out and the Hokies take can advantage in the 2nd half. I like the Hokies to win by around the Vegas number. They won’t pull away until late in the game but eventually they will get the better of the BC defense.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 27, Boston College 10
Stop. Fumbling. The. Football. If the Hokies had been able to hold on to the football on Saturday, they likely would’ve won. Or at least would’ve had a good chance to win.
Oh well. On to the next one. Up next is Boston College. Here are their last 9 ACC games:
Florida State Seminoles Lost 14-0
at Duke Blue Devils Lost 9-7
Wake Forest Demon Deacons Lost 3-0
at Clemson Tigers Lost 34-17
at Louisville Cardinals Lost 17-14
Virginia Tech Hokies Lost 26-10
NC State Wolfpack Lost 24-8
at Syracuse Orange Lost 20-17
vs Georgia Tech Lost 17 – 14
0-9 in their last ACC games? Easy sledding, right? Not so much. Boston College had the #1 defense in the nation last year. This year, they have the #3 defense in the nation. And it’s not smoke and mirrors. They’re really good.
This might be the toughest defense that the Hokies play all season. They allow 48 rushing yards per game. And they’ve already played Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech only managed 2.7 yards per carry against them. This is a team that you cannot run on. If you want to beat BC, you have to beat them thru the air.
You know what else makes this an intriguing matchup? Scot Loeffler. He’s the Eagle’s new offensive coordinator. You can bet he knows our personnel pretty well and he know Bud Foster’s defense. If there is anyone who knows how to exploit our personnel on defense, it’s him. It should not surprise you if BC has a couple of tricks up their sleeve against our defense.
The Hokies are 2-9 in their last 11 home games vs the Power 5. It’s time for that to change. Boston College have lost their last 9 ACC games. You would think this should be an easy game. Not likely. BC is the type of team that can beat you with defense alone. Especially if you’re prone to making mistakes and turning the ball over. I still expect the Hokies to win but the offense is going to need to make some plays thru the air. This one won’t be easy.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 17, Boston College 13
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What are your thoughts on your team so far?
Boston College is right around where I expected them to be overall, but didn’t get there the way anyone expected. Beat USC, lose to Colorado State? Take Clemson to the wire, nearly blow a 20-point lead against Wake? The Eagles are unpredictable but I never bought the media’s prophesies of doom for this team, especially those that killed BC after losing Andre Williams. BC wasn’t massively underrated, but they were underrated to an extent, which is nothing new to us really. We’re looking like a bowl team again and I’m satisfied.
What are your expectations going into the VT game?
Were the Hokies still ranked, the expectations would be minimal. The Eagles haven’t played a good game at Lane Stadium in years, but Boston College is catching Virginia Tech at the right time. This is about as good a chance they’ve had of beating VT in their building since we had Matt Ryan. I am not expecting a win at this point but I am expecting that the Eagles will at least be in the game in the fourth quarter. Part of it is that nobody knows how the Hokies are going to respond to the Miami embarrassment.
What are your thoughts on VT being BC’s inter-division rival? Do you like the arrangement or would you like to see BC matched with another team?
This rivalry game has served us well for a long time — I noted on my own site that these two teams have only gone one year since 1993 where they did not see one another. There is a familiarity with playing the Hokies every year, and while I wouldn’t mind one-year breaks now and then, I have no issues with keeping the series going indefinitely.
What is your prediction for the game?
I’m debating this — my response might change several times from now until Saturday morning. As for now, you caught me at a time when I’m expecting a narrow VT win. The Hokies are clearly in trouble but I don’t think they’re as bad as they looked last Thursday. Thing is, their run defense looked porous at best and that’s bad news if the Eagles run game gets going. I don’t put too much stock into BC being 3-0 on the road as they’ve played lesser opposition all three times. Even beating a relatively down VT team on the road would be worthy of praise.