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Boston College Eagles vs Virginia Tech Hokies

12/6/08

This is the ACC Championship Game which will be played in Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL. The 9-3 Boston College Eagles, winners of the Atlantic Division, will take on the 8-4 Virginia Tech Hokies, winners of the Coastal Division for the second year in a row. Last year, the Eagles out-yarded the Hokies by over 150 yds, but Virginia Tech pulled their usual defensive and special teams magic in returning a blocked PAT for 2 pts, and later returning a Matt Ryan INT for a TD in a 30-16 win.

The Scorewas tied 16-16 at the half, and remained tied until midway through the 4th Q when Hokie QB Sean Glennon hit WR Eddie Royal on a 24 yd TD toss to put Virginia Tech up 23-16. The Eagles had one last shot, but a Matt Ryan pass was picked off and returned for the TD with just 11 seconds to play to make the final Scorelook worse than it really was.

Boston College has come on as of late in winning their last 4 Games in a row, with 2 of them being on the road. They have not given up more than 21 pts in any of those 4 Games, have only given up a total 198 yds rushing and have forced 12 TO’s. Last week they held Maryland to –6 yds rushing in a Game featuring Eagle backup QB Dominique Davis for the 2nd Game in a row. Freshman Davis has replaced starting QB Chris Crane, who went down with a broken collarbone early in the Wake Forest Game 2 weeks ago. Davis came in and got the win in that Game, running a conservative offense in a Game that was dominated by defense on both sides. Last week against Maryland, he went a modest 12 of 24 for just 134 yds, but hit on 2 TD passes with 0 INT’s. The Eagles kept the ball on the ground racking up 175 yds rushing, and again, relied heavily on their stellar defense. On the year, Davis has hit 31 of 59 passes for 288 yds, 3 TDs and has yet to throw an INT. He should be an adequate replacement in the passing Game, but the Eagles will likely miss Crane’s mobility, as he had ACCounted for 225 rushing yds and 7 TD’s on his own. But they shouldn’t miss his 13 INT’s, which ACCounted for half of the team’s TO’s this year.

The Eagle defense has been solid, as they have given up an average of just 17.6 ppg, and just 87 ypg rushing for a miniscule 2.9 ypc average. They have given up some passing yardage, but mainly because foes are having to abandon the run in an effort to move the ball. As a result, the Eagle D has amassed 25 INT’s and 32 sacks for the year, with just 9 passing TD’s allowed in 11 Games, giving them the #1 ranking in the ACC in passing efficieNCy defense to go along with their #1 ranking in rushing defense.

Virginia Tech thrives on the rushing Game though, which may not play into their hands well this week. They are averaging a solid 169 ypg rushing, but are next to last in passing offense with an average of just 131 ypg, and just 6 passing TD’s for the year. With 18 of their 24 TD’s coming on the ground this year, they may have a little trouble putting points on the board if Boston College is able to slow down the running attack, which they very well may do. In their meeting with the Eagles earlier this year, the Hokies were able to roll up 150 yds on the ground, but were kept out of the end zone on offense, settling for just 3 FG’s. 110 of those rushing yds were by QB Tyrod Taylor, who was held to just 12 of 27 passing for 90 yds and 1 INT in the 28-23 loss. Top rusher Darren Evans was held to 27 yds on 17 carries for an average of just 1.6 ypc.

If not for the Virginia Tech defense, the Scoremight have been 28-0, as they came up big with 5 turnovers, iNCluding 2 INT’s that were returned for TD’s. The Hokies rank just 8th in passing efficieNCy defense, with 14 INT’s to 10 TD’s allowed. But they are 1st in passing defense, allowing just 162 ypg on average, and they are 2nd behind Boston College in rushing defense, giving up an average of 112 ypg.

Virginia Tech is just not going to beat you through the air. QB’s Taylor and Glennon have combined for just 1555 yds, and just 5 passing TD’s to 10 INT’s. As an offense, the Hokies have scored just 24 TD’s and average just slightly better than 21 ppg. And it’s tough to run on Boston College who have already kept the Hokies out of the end zone oNCe already this year. Where they can beat you is with excellent defense and special teams play. If you allow them to return blocked kicks and INT’s for TD’s you are in big trouble. However, even with turning the ball over 5 times, iNCluding 2 for TD’s, the Eagles still beat Virginia Tech by 5 pts in that first match-up. I just can’t see them turning the ball over like that in a rematch. With equal defenses, and if they take care of the ball, the Eagles have the much better offense in this Game and should win again. They will likely play a little more conservatively this time with the freshman Davis at QB, and not put the ball in the air 32 times like they did last time. I’ll look for them to pass enough to set up the run, put an emphasis on taking care of the ball, play tough defense again and come away with a win in what should be a low scoring Game against an offensively challenged Virginia Tech team. Boston College in a pick-em, -0.

 

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