Clemson vs. Boston College: Game Prediction
The Tigers welcome the Boston College Eagles into Death Valley on Saturday in what could be one of the wetter games in the Valley in a long time. The Eagles and Tigers always seem to have a close battle, and up until last season, Boston College seemed to come away with the win. However, the Tigers got a big day from C.J. Spiller and held on at the end as they earned Dabo Swinney his first win as a head coach. Last week, the prediction here was right on a lot of things – a close game, won by a late field goal, with less than three points separating the two teams. What we didn’t know was the Clemson would lose, and a critical phantom holding call would be one of the deciding factors in Clemson losing instead of winning. The predictions get back on track this week.
Boston College at Clemson
When Boston College Has the Ball
The Eagles will be bringing two young quarterbacks to town in Justin Tuggle and Dave Shinskie. In their first two games, wins over far inferior opponents, new offensive coordinator Gary Tranquill kept the game plan very vanilla in an attempt to get his quarterbacks settled as well as not show Clemson too much before their meeting. Against the Tigers on Saturday, look for Boston College to try and hammer away with running backs Montel Harris and Josh Haden and Rolandan Finch, especially if the field is wet, then try and use play-action to hit something over the top to receiver Rich Gunnell. Clemson defensive coordinator Kevin Steele will probably try and confuse the young quarterbacks with a variety of looks and coverages, as well as open up the blitz package. If the Tigers can create a turnover or two early, or get ahead enough to force the Eagles out of their plan, it could be a long day, especially if you give Ricky Sapp and Da’Quan Bowers free reign to rush the quarterback. Swinney said earlier this week that this will be the first time this season that Clemson can play its actual defense, and it will be interesting to see if Steele turns his attack dogs loose for the first time.
ADVANTAGE – CLEMSON
When Clemson Has the Ball
The Clemson offense may have found their identity in the second half of the Georgia Tech game – running Spiller all over the field, and then trying to hit the big play by using quarterback Kyle Parker’s big arm and the speed of Spiller and the Tiger receivers. Against Boston College and their young linebackers, more passes out the backfield may be in order, along with more action for tight ends Michael Palmer and Dwayne Allen. As hard as it might be to believe, Andre Ellington is the second leading rusher on the team, just six yards behind Spiller, but if the field is indeed wet, it might be Jamie Harper’s time to shine as the Tigers try to grind it out on the ground. I can see a situation much like last season’s South Carolina game, also played in less than ideal conditions, when Clemson got in behind fullback Chad Diehl and owned the line of scrimmage. If they do that enough, the down-field shots will open up for Parker, Spiller, Jacoby Ford and Marquan Jones.
ADVANTAGE – CLEMSON
C.J. Spiller had a huge return in last season’s contest, setting up the Tigers for the winning score, and to this point of the season Spiller and Jacoby Ford has provided what is arguably the most exciting return tandem in the country. The Tigers have also gotten a boost from Richard Jackson, who hit along field goal last week, and Dawson Zimmerman has been more than adequate at punter. The one big mistake happened on a pooch punt last week that Tech returned for a touchdown. Boston College has also been pretty good on special teams, and have kicker Steve Aponavicius, who is solid if not spectacular. Gunnell is also very good in the return game, while punter Ryan Quigley has already pinned a couple of kicks inside the opponents’ 10-yard line. This is another area that could decide the game, and because of Spiller and Ford, Clemson has the advantage.
ADVANTAGE – Slight to Clemson.
For the first time in his young coaching career, Swinney will have more head coach experience than his counterpart, with Boston College head coach Frank Spaziani entering just his third game ever as a head coach. However, “Spaz” began his coaching career as a graduate assistant to Penn St.’s Joe Paterno way back in 1969, and has worked in both the pros and college, and spent 10 years as Boston College’s defensive coordinator before taking the head coaching job. Swinney surrounded himself with a very experienced coaching staff, and showed his mettle when he admitted that he “got my butt out-coached” for a while last week against Georgia Tech. However, he also did a great job of keeping Clemson in the game and making adjustments on the fly, a critical component in today’s game.
ADVANTAGE – Slight to Clemson.
History says that this one will be close, and the weather can also be a great equalizer. If I were Spaziani, I would try and negate Clemson’s rush by trying a few trick plays, just to give the Tigers’ something to think about, and they must might work for an early lead, which would be huge on the road. If the Eagles don’t jump out early, this could turn into yawner quickly. Look for Clemson to take their shots down-field early, then rely on the running game late as the field and conditions worsen. The best guess here is that Boston College sees a lot of Spiller and Harper, but the Tigers try to throw more on the early downs, especially underneath on the Eagle linebackers, then use the running game on later downs in what they hope will be short yardage situations. Clemson will jump out early, and while Boston College does just enough to keep it interesting for a while, the Tigers will steadily pull away.
THE PICK CLEMSON 24, BOSTON COLLEGE 9