College Football Saturday delivers great individual efforts, clutch performances, and thrilling endings. One of the best matchups today features Boston College vs Florida State at 3:30 p.m. EST on ABC. Pylon University previews the game.
The 2013 Boston College Eagles were considered by fans to have overachieved behind the running of Heisman Trophy finalist Andre Williams and new head coach Steve Addazio. Their 7-6 record was a five-win improvement over the final season of the Frank Spaziani era and suggested a brighter future for the Eagles. Pundits expected the 2014 squad to experience significant growing pains as their leading passer, runner, and receiver (Chase Rettig, Williams, and Alex Amidon) had all graduated.
Enter fifth-year senior transfer quarterback Tyler Murphy, who found the national spotlight with a 191-yard rushing performance while leading BC to a 37-31 victory over then-#9 USC. Murphy has led the Eagles to a 6-4 record thus far, including wins at Virginia Tech, NC State and Wake Forest. Three of their four losses ‒ falling to Colorado State (9-1), Clemson (7-3) and Louisville (7-3) ‒ are understandable, while the fourth (to a 4-6 Pittsburgh squad in Week 2) took place before the Panthers were devastated by injuries. Interestingly, BC is 2-4 at home and 4-0 on the road, though they compiled the latter mark against weaker competition.
Among national FBS programs, Addazio’s squad enters the Florida State game ranked 12th in rushing yards per game, and 23rd in fewest points per game allowed on defense. On the flip side, BC is 122nd in passing offense and 81st in points per game on offense.
The Florida State Outlook
Offensively, the Eagles will look to the ground with Murphy (1,011 yards rushing), freshman RB Jon Hilliman (620 yards rushing), and sophomore RB Myles Willis (413 yards rushing) carrying the workload.
On first down, BC has run 242 times and passed only 58 times, so expect Addazio and offensive coordinator Ryan Day to run about 80% of the time on those snaps. On second down, the Eagles have run on 171 of 234 total plays for a rushing rate of 73%. The Seminoles are 36th in the country in rushing defense and 96th in passing defense and will be looking to stifle the run-heavy Eagles by forcing 3rd-and-long situations. BC’s third-down conversion rate of 34.3% is 109th nationally.
Further, the BC passing game is so weak that it cannot be relied upon after the Eagles fall behind on the scoreboard. Much of their passing success has come after establishing the running game, where they have used play action to spring freshman spark plug WR Sherman Alston and senior WR Josh Bordner (a converted QB) for big plays. Should the Eagles need to resort to the pass, it is unlikely they’ll be able to stay in the game.
On the other side of the ball, BC defensive coordinator Don Brown operates a unit that has been elite against the run (4th in the nation in defensive rushing yards per game) but average against the pass (67th) and poor in passing yards allowed on 3rd down (116th). Against a Florida State offense ranked 10th in the country in passing yards, this could lead to a very long night for Eagles fans.
Boston College vs Florida State is a huge matchup this Saturday. If the Eagles can stick to their game plan on offense and stay on schedule, they have a chance to pull off the upset and throw an already jumbled playoff picture into further chaos. But if they do not run the ball effectively on offense and allow Heisman Trophy candidate Jameis Winston to convert on 3rd down, FSU may not have to pull off another comeback in the 4th quarter.
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