If you like to identify teams that did well down the stretch the previous year as breakout candidates, Boston College is for you. They went 5-1 in their last 6 in the regular season, upset Louisville, Virginia, and Florida State as underdogs (they were 5-1-1 as an underdog last season overall), and seem to have a found a QB/RB combo that can be truly effective. They lost to Iowa in the Pinstripe Bowl but had a massive yardage edge, so the score-line may have been a little deceiving.
Head Coach Steve Addazio is in his 6th year here, and while they have made a bowl in 4 of the 5 years, they have yet to really have a breakthrough season. They’ve beaten the teams they’re supposed to beat, but when they’ve come up against really top talent, they’re just 1-9 vs. Top-10 teams and 1-12 vs. Top-25 teams under Addazio. This year’s team is potentially one who can match up with better foes because of all the experience they have coming back.
Markets have put Boston College’s win total this season at 7 -130/100 (DSI), 6.5 -115/-105 (BOL), and 6 -160/+130 (5D), so there’s absolutely an expectation of a bowl game. Can they do better, though?
|9/13 (Th)||@ Wake Forest||-0.5|
|10/6||@ NC State||+1.5|
|10/26 (F)||Miami (FL)||+6.5|
|11/3||@ Virginia Tech||+6.5|
|11/17||@ Florida State||+10.5|
Here there is everything you want in an offense when trying to identify a breakout team. They have 10 returning starters, a sophomore quarterback who got a full season of experience (Anthony Brown), a potential game-breaking runningback (A.J Dillon), and a veteran offensive line. They’re in the 3rd season of OC Scot Loeffler’s system, so comfort and continuity should be even more likely. Dillon specifically is someone whose development I am really excited to see, as he rushed for more than 1,500 yards last year. Addazio has said on record he thinks Dillon could win the Heisman here before he’s done, so that gives you some idea what the expectations are.
There have been times the past few seasons where the Eagles offense was flat-out embarrassing, whether due to injuries or an ineffective power-run game. This year, with the exception of Clemson, I’d expect them to be able to run on everyone, and run well. If Brown improves due to experience and familiarity, which is a reasonable assumption given the flashes he showed last year, they could even be (gasp) explosive.
Typically this is the side of the ball you can rely on with this team, but there are some question marks this time around, most notably in the secondary, where they lost both starting corners to the NFL. There are replacements with starting experience but it will be interesting to see if they can match last season’s excellent numbers. Their defensive line and linebackers return multiple starters, and although defensive-line coach Paul Pasqualoni is now the DC for the Detroit Lions, the rest of the staff remains including DC Jim Reid who’s in his 3rd season. One player to watch is defensive lineman Zach Allen, who was named to some publications’ preseason All-American team, and will most likely have NFL scouts at several of his games this season.
The schedule does this team absolutely no favors. In a season with a ton of returning experience and potentially high expectations, they have 5 true road games including trips to Blacksburg and Tallahassee late in the season, and they draw Miami (FL) and Virginia Tech out of the Coastal. Ouch. Their bowl eligibility will hinge on road games at Wake Forest, Purdue, and NC State, where at least before the season there is very little separating any of those teams. A potentially memorable, successful season requires strong performances there and an upset late in the year against Miami or Clemson at home. They get Clemson at the best possible time, at the end of 4-straight very tough games, so at least that’s a tiny bright spot when you see the Tigers on the schedule.
Win/Total pick: Over 6.5 -115 (BOL)
This is a classic case of a team clearly improving vs. a schedule that demands peak performances. If you looked at Boston College in a vacuum without the schedule, I think they “feel” like an 8-win team. They absolutely need to start well for these bets to have a chance though. When you factor in the opponents they draw from the Coastal and the 4-game gauntlet of Miami/VT/Clemson/FSU in November, this team might be hurting by Thanksgiving. I think the upside is too much to pass up here though. All of the signs, from last season’s success, to talent at skill positions and on the offensive line, to the track record of the defense, indicate a high ceiling. When they get to the bye on October 20th there is a very real chance they could be 7-0 and you’ve already won.
-END OF 2018 PREVIEW-
Does Steve Addazio get enough credit? It’s pretty clear year after year that the Boston College Eagles are operating at a talent deficiency and yet this is a team that has a winning record in three of Addazio’s four years at the helm. Last season, the Eagles went 7-6, despite scoring just 12 points per game in conference play. They only scored 20.4 points per game overall. A 36-30 win over Maryland with just 705 yards of total offense put the team on the plus side of the ledger.
The Eagles have only eclipsed 300 yards of offense per game in three of the last seven seasons. This is a team built on defense and has been for quite a while. Those teams are often undervalued because they don’t do anything that draws a whole lot of attention. Are you more likely to pay attention to a team that hung a 50 burger or a team that held an offense averaging 40 points per game to 14 points? Last year’s weak(ish) schedule is gone, though, as the class of competition takes a big step up.
As a result, we see a season win total line of just 4 with -120 on the over and even money on the under at 5Dimes Sportsbook. Keep in mind that the number does not include conference championships or bowl games. It only applies to the regular season.
|Date||Opponent||Projected Line||Expected Wins|
|9/1 (F)||@ Northern Illinois||-1||0.51|
|10/27 (F)||Florida State||+19||0.03|
|11/18||UConn (N – Boston)||-11||0.80|
Total Expected Wins: 4.53
Kentucky transfer Patrick Towles wasn’t exactly a savior for the Boston College offense with a 50.5 percent completion rate and a 12/7 TD/INT ratio. Darius Wade had 19 pass attempts, but he is the clubhouse leader to be the starting quarterback over redshirt freshman Anthony Brown and sophomore John Fadule. The BC game plan on offense is to not turn the ball over, run three times, and probably punt. BC ran the ball 566 times against 296 passing plays last season. Jon Hilliman was busy with 184 attempts. He only managed 2.9 yards per carry as the feature back. Backup Davon Jones had four yards per carry and a highly-touted freshman named AJ Dillon should get a chance to run the rock.
The offense managed a paltry 4.4 yards per play last season with just 293 yards of offense per game overall. Seventy-seven of the team’s 265 points came in wins over Wagner and Buffalo. If you’re looking for offense, you’re looking in the wrong place with the Eagles. All of the top wide receivers are back, but the Eagles pass for show or on third-and-25, so it’s fair to wonder how much that matters.
But, the one thing that makes Boston College so scary is that the defense can play with just about anybody. Even in the ACC, with high-octane offenses and NFL-caliber running backs, the Eagles have allowed 3.1, 2.4, and 3.3 yards per carry over the last three seasons, when Addazio really got to put his stamp on the program. In total, the Eagles have allowed 324, 254, and 314 yards per game and 21.3, 15.3, and 25 points per game over the last three years. Ironically, the 2015 season was a 3-9 campaign while allowing just 15.3 points per game.
The big takeaway here is that no matter how you slice it, this is a legitimate contender for the top defense in the country, especially when adjusted for the level of competition, year in and year out. Harold Landry had 16.5 of the team’s 47 sacks and he’s back for more. Connor Strachan returns as the leading tackler. This will be the second season for defensive coordinator Jim Reid, who had some big shoes to fill when Dom Brown went to Michigan. The Eagles sagged off a touch last season with Reid, but now it’s the second year of his schemes and will be the fifth year with Addazio overseeing all parts of the program.
Nobody wants to play Boston College. It’s a slow, physical, tiring brand of football. We’ve seen Boston College have the ability to sneak up on some teams in recent years and score some wins that they weren’t supposed to get. This year’s schedule is dramatically tougher with trips to Clemson and Louisville and a visit from Notre Dame.
Win Total Pick: Over 4
The Eagles just find a way to win games. You cannot discredit the fact that Addazio has gone to a bowl game three times with his team over the last four years in a tough conference with virtually no offense to speak of. It’s a really special accomplishment. Somehow, someway, Boston College will find a way to win at least four games and a fifth wouldn’t be a total shocker. My numbers show a slight lean to the over, even with the -120 price tag. It isn’t a strong play, because there isn’t a big ceiling for this team, but the past results speak for themselves.