Clemson vs Boston College Prediction: Uiagalelei steps in for Lawrence


by - Senior Writer -
Clemson and BC face off at noon.
Clemson and BC face off at noon.

Welcome to the big-time, DJ Uiagalelei.

The heralded freshman out of Bellflower (CA) Bosco gets his first start on the collegiate level when Boston College visits Clemson for this weekend’s game in Death Valley. Starting quarterback Trevor Lawrence tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week, meaning that Uiagalelei gets his chance to show the Tiger faithful what he can do.

The weather is supposed to be perfect and the game will be a fitting way to head into an election week, no matter who you vote(d) for.

NO. 1/1 CLEMSON (6-0, 5-0 ACC) vs. RV/RV BOSTON COLLEGE (4-2, 3-2 ACC)

WHEN: SATURDAY, OCT. 31, NOON ET
WHERE: MEMORIAL STADIUM, CLEMSON, S.C.
TELEVISION: ABC (Joe Tessitore, Greg McElroy, Holly Rowe)
RADIO: Clemson Tigers Network (Don Munson, Tim Bourret, Reggie Merriweather)
SATELLITE RADIO: Sirius 137, XM 193, Internet 955

CLEMSON/BOSTON COLLEGE SERIES HISTORY

OVERALL: Clemson leads series, 18-9-2
HOME: Clemson leads series, 8-3-1
ROAD: Clemson leads series, 9-6-1
NEUTRAL: Clemson leads series, 1-0
LAST MEETING: Oct. 26, 2019 (56-7, W)
STREAK: Clemson, Won 9

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TIGERS

Clemson is in the midst of celebrating its 125th season of football in 2020. Saturday's game against Boston College will be played on the 124th anniversary of Clemson's gridiron debut on Oct. 31, 1896. On that date, the squad representing Clemson Agricultural College defeated Furman, 14-6, in Greenville, S.C. in a game that was the first time that many of the Clemson players had seen a full-sized football gridiron. Charlie Gentry was credited with scoring the Tigers’ first touchdown as Clemson improved to 1-0 all-time. The Tigers have won another 763 games in the years since, as Clemson's 764 total wins rank 14th in FBS history.

NOTABLE

*For the first time since 2014, Boston College gets a chance to play the top-ranked team in the country as the Eagles visit No. 1 Clemson Saturday at noon.

*For the 13th time, Boston College and Clemson will play for a trophy. The BC Gridiron Club established the O’Rourke-McFadden Trophy in 2008. The trophy features a leather helmet replica of those used by Charlie O’Rourke of Boston College and Banks McFadden of Clemson, when they competed against each other in the 1940 Cotton Bowl.

*Clemson is attempting to open a season 7-0 for the ninth time in school history, joining the 1948, 1981, 2000, 2011, 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019 seasons.

*Clemson is attempting to improve to 15-7 all-time in games played on Halloween. A win would push Clemson to 7-2 all-time in Halloween home games a give Clemson a 6-1 mark at Death Valley on that date since the Memorial Stadium's opening in 1942.

*Clemson is attempting to win four home games in a single month for only the second time in school history. Clemson opened the 2011 season with four consecutive home games in September, earning wins against Troy, Wofford, Auburn and Florida State to kick off an ACC Championship season.

*Clemson is attempting to secure its eighth five-win month in school history. Clemson went 5-0 in October 1977, October 1981, November 1991, September 2000, October 2015, September 2017 and September 2018.

*Clemson is attempting to win a 27th consecutive home game to extend its school record for the longest home winning streak and longest home unbeaten streak in school history. Of the 120 players on Clemson's 2020 roster, 111 have never experienced a home loss in their Clemson careers. Nine fifth-year seniors on Clemson's 2020 roster were on the 2016 team that recovered from a home loss to Pitt by winning the national championship that season.

WHEN BOSTON COLLEGE HAS THE BALL

Clemson’s defense is a little banged up. Starting linebacker James Skalski is out for at least the next few weeks, and defensive tackle Tyler Davis might not suit up for the Eagles. Add in the fact that Derion Kendrick and Jordan Williams missed last week’s game, and the starting group on defense has taken its share of hits.

The defense faces a Boston College offense in transition, an offense that Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney says is throwing it all over the field. The Eagles only averaged 66.2 rushing yards per game through the first five games but exploded for 264 yards on the ground against Georgia Tech. Something to watch - 130 of those yards came on quarterback runs and jet sweeps by wide receiver Zay Flowers.

Phil Jurkovec has been outstanding in his first year as the Eagles' quarterback, completing 62.5 percent of his throws with 12 touchdowns. Flowers and tight end Hunter Long are his main targets and Ohio State transfer Jaelen Gill has had his moments.

The difference maker might be the Clemson defensive line – the Boston College offensive line has been inconsistent all year and if the running game struggles, Jurkovec will be on the run all afternoon. He will make plays and the offense will make plays, but do you bet against Brent Venables?

ADVANTAGE: CLEMSON

WHEN CLEMSON HAS THE BALL

Lawrence started his junior season strong in 2020. Through six games, he’s completed 135 of 191 passes (70.7 percent) for 1,833 yards and 17 touchdowns to two interceptions while adding four rushing scores. He will be missed and missed in a big way. As TigerNet's Brandon Rink pointed out to me earlier – whenever the Tigers have had to go into the second level of the quarterback rotation in recent seasons, the results have been a mixed bag.

In five games, Uiagalelei has completed 12 of 19 passes (63.2 percent) for 102 yards, scoring two rushing touchdowns on 32 yards (4.0 average) and eight carries. He was the 247Sports Composite's No. 10 overall prospect and No. 1 pro-style quarterback for 2020, with Clemson's coaching staff has grown his role during a lopsided Tigers' early season.

The kid can play. But this will be his first time trotting out to take that first snap, and there will be nerves.

That means the Tigers will need to rely a little more on the ground game, but it’s a ground game that hasn’t exactly gotten on track, ranking 41st nationally. The holes simply haven’t been there for Travis Etienne, who has gotten yards on many plays simply because of his greatness. Whether you blame defenses loading the box or the offensive line or a mixture of both, the running lanes haven’t exactly been wide open.

Expect more designed quarterback runs from Uiagalelei, along with the read option. The Clemson offense is made to get the ball out quick, so it will interesting to see if he can get in rhythm with his receivers. Boston College’s Max Richardson and Isaiah McDuffie are sure tacklers and Clemson needs to focus on making sure both linebackers are blocked.

The honest truth? No one knows what to expect Saturday. But as long as Uiagalelei realizes he doesn’t have to win the game, just manage all of his weapons and playmakers, the offense will be just fine. Etienne will be the difference maker.

ADVANTAGE: CLEMSON

SPECIAL TEAMS

Clemson has been great in the return game. BT Potter, when the protection is good, has been good on field goals. Punter Will Spiers is having a spectacular year and, when the protection is good, has been a weapon. Spiers even ran for a first down last week on a fake punt. But those protection issues have been an issue – three blocked field goals against Miami and a blocked punt last week. In a game where the margins might be thinner than usual, special teams will probably play a huge part.

Boston College punter Matt Carlson is decent – averaging 42.42 yards per punt in 26 kicks. Kicker Aaron Boumerhi is 7-for-9 on field goals. The Tigers might have a shot at a return – kickoff man Danny Longman has just 14 touchbacks in 32 attempts.

ADVANTAGE: SLIGHT TO CLEMSON

WHAT WILL HAPPEN

This one might be tighter than people want. Boston College is well-coached and they will try to make Uiagalelei beat them. However, Clemson’s defense will do what it has to do and once the offense settles in under the freshman and Etienne gets limbered up, things will start to open. The loss of Lawrence, yeah, that hurts. But Uiagalelei played in a high classification in California and has played in some big games. He will settle in and do just fine. Special teams might even break a big play.

FINAL SCORE: CLEMSON 37, BOSTON COLLEGE 17

More TigerNet picks
Mickey Plyler - 6-9 AM on WCCP 105.5FM - 34-20 Clemson
Nikki Hood - Staff writer - 35-7 Clemson
Brandon Rink - Staff writer - 27-17 Clemson
Pigskin Prophet - 44-20 Clemson
Tony Crumpton - Associate Editor - 42-7 Clemson*

(* Picking the same score all season)

Game Actual David Hood Mickey Plyler Nikki Hood Brandon Rink Pigskin Prophet Tony Crumpton
Wake Forest 37-13 CU 42-9 CU 49-10 CU 49-13 CU 47-10 CU 44-13 CU 42-7 CU
The Citadel 49-0 CU 52-7 CU 57-6 CU 59-7 CU 55-0 CU 62-6 CU 42-7 CU
Virginia 41-23 CU 38-12 CU 41-14 CU 52-17 CU 45-16 CU 41-13 CU 42-7 CU
Miami 42-17 CU 37-16 CU 38-23 CU 38-20 CU 37-20 CU 41-20 CU 42-7 CU
GT 73-7 CU 45-13 CU 51-13 CU 52-7 CU 55-10 CU 44-13 CU 42-7 CU
Syracuse 47-21 CU 62-9 CU 63-10 CU 70-3 CU 59-6 CU 63-3 CU 42-7 CU
BC 34-28 CU 37-17 CU 34-20 CU 35-7 CU 27-17 CU 44-20 CU 42-7 Clemson
Points - 7 11 7 11 11 9

* Points: 3 pts for best prediction of the week (tiebreaker is Clemson score), 2 pts for picking score exactly, 1 pt for picking the correct winner

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