After winning their last two contests against Clemson and Wake Forest, the Eagles look to continue their march towards bowl eligibility this weekend against the Duke Blue Devils. With a record of 4-5, the Eagles need only two more wins to continue their streak of twelve straight bowl game appearances. As has become cliché, every game now counts for the Eagles. The same applies for the Duke Blue Devils, who are in a similar situation to the Eagles. After winning their last two games, the Blue Devils now have a 3-6 record, and must win each of their remaining 3 games to salvage their season. It is fair to say that when both teams take the field on Saturday, the intensity will be high, as both teams fight for their survival.
On paper, this game certainly appears to be a favorable matchup for the Eagles. The Blue Devils rely on one facet of the game: the passing attack. On the season, the Blue Devils have thrown for 261.3 yards per game, ranking them 30th in the nation. In the last two games, the Blue Devils have scored a combined 89 points, accumulating 945 yards, while committing only one turnover. Most of this offense was generated through the air. The Blue Devils are led by sophomore quarterback Sean Renfree, who has thrown for 2,270 yards, 12 touchdowns, and 15 interceptions on the season. In the last two games, the young quarterback has an average passer rating of 162.9, including a stellar quarterback rating of 192.26 against Navy. Providing a crutch for the young quarterback is an excellent wide-receiving corps, featuring Donovan Varner, a pre-season all-ACC selection, and Conner Vernon, who has accumulated 717 yards on 49 receptions, both team highs.
Despite having an excellent aerial attack though, the Blue Devils pose little threat on the ground. Their leading rusher on the season is Desmond Scott, who has accumulated just 489 yards on 99 carries. The most dangerous threat on the ground for the Blue Devils this season, however, has been freshman quarterback Brandon Connette. At times subbing in for Renfree, Connette has attempted only 15 passes, but has rushed for 281 yards and 6 touchdowns.
With the third best rush defense in the nation (allowing only 82.4 rushing yards per game), it is fair to say that the Eagles will not need to put too much concern into stopping the Duke rushing attack, allowing them to focus heavily on the dangerous Duke passing attack. While the Duke offense should be able to move the ball on small gains against the soft-zone of the Eagles, the stout Boston College defense, which has only allowed 23 points in its last two contests, should be able to stifle Duke’s young quarterbacks.
Offensively, the Eagles are facing one of their easiest tests of the season. The Duke Blue Devils rank 116th in the nation in points against, allowing opponents to score 38.9 points per game. Montel Harris, the engine of the Eagles offense, should not face much contention either, as the Duke defense ranks only 104th in the nation against the run, allowing 199.8 yards per game on the ground.
Just as fans saw last Saturday, facing a poor rush-defense, the Eagles should be able to ride Harris early and often, opening up some large gains down the field for freshman quarterback Chase Rettig on play-action fakes.
Even though this game is an away game, there is no reason that the Eagles should not emerge from Durham victorious. It is the second road game in a row for the Eagles, and by now, Rettig is certainly adapting to the challenges of playing away from Alumni Stadium. Most importantly, though, the Eagles have a favorable matchup in nearly every phase of the game. The BC defense has been playing incredibly, and the offense has been producing enough to take home the “W”. Montel Harris should be able to get his 20th 100+ yard rushing game, and add another win while doing it.
Prediction: Boston College 31 – Duke 13
About the Author
Written by Ian Boynton
Student at Boston College. Avid fan of St. Louis Rams, Boston Red Sox, as well as all Boston College Sports.