Boston College (2-9) at NC State (6-5) Nov. 24, 3:00, ESPN3
Here’s The Deal: In what might go down as a poetic and fitting end to the career of Frank Spaziani, he’ll face Tom O’Brien, the man who hired him at Boston College 15 years ago.
Coach Spaz isn’t likely to survive a second straight losing season, one of the worst in years on the Heights. Not much was expected of his Eagles in 2012, and they pretty much delivered on expectations. To the credit of the players and the coaching staff, Boston College has refused to quit on a season that lost hope a long time ago, losing in overtime to Virginia Tech last week.
NC State has disappointed in the second half, which might actually have O’Brien in hot water. The same Wolfpack team that handed Florida State its only loss, and was 5-2 on Oct. 20, is fortunate to be bowl-eligible. The Pack has dropped three of the last four games, embarrassing itself against Virginia and to Clemson this past Saturday in Death Valley.
Why Boston College Might Win: Not only have the Eagles played hard throughout this season, but the players would like to give Spaziani one more win.
BC sure isn’t Clemson, but it still figures to have success against a fading NC State defense that was just butchered for 754 yards and eight touchdowns. The Pack has plummeted to 83rd nationally in total D, with the secondary standing out as the biggest disappointment. State can be thrown upon, which is precisely what Chase Rettig will attempt to do on Saturday afternoon. He’ll mix in quick-hitters to neutralize the speed of the Wolfpack pass rush, hitting WR Alex Amidon in the flat and TE Chris Pantale on intermediate routes.
Why NC State Might Win: For a change, Mike Glennon ought to have time to throw. And when Glennon gets time to set his feet, good things often happen.
The Pack O-line has been brutal in pass protection this year, but, alas, here come the Eagles. The nation’s-worst Boston College pass rush has been impotent since the opener, last getting to the quarterback on Oct. 27. Glennon is even better than his 27 touchdown passes might indicate, because he’s had to do most of his work under duress. A protected Glennon will get the time he needs to find one of his targets with at least 600 receiving yards this season, Bryan Underwood, Quintin Payton and Tobais Palmer.
What To Watch Out For: It could be a frustrating day for the BC blockers, who’ve been every bit as ineffective as the wide-bodies from NC State.
The Eagles are 107th nationally in sacks allowed. The difference in this one is that the guys on the other side of the ball can really get after the quarterback. The Wolfpack leads the ACC in sacks, and ranks second in tackles for loss, emptying the bench if necessary to generate pressure for coordinator Mike Archer. It’ll go conventional as needed, but really likes to turn loose its attacking linebackers, Rickey Dowdy, Sterling Lucas and Rodman Noel.
What Will Happen: Reunited and it feels so good … well, at least for O’Brien.
O’Brien has lost four of five to his former employer, but will nab an important win at Carter-Finley Stadium this weekend. His Pack, while wildly inconsistent, has the better playmakers on both sides of the ball, and has played well at home. Although the Eagles will play to the gun, the inability to pressure Glennon, or keep the State linebackers off Rettig, will result in a four-game, season-ending losing streak.
CFN Prediction: NC State 30 … Boston College 16