Eagles look to stay in the hunt in the ACC Atlantic race when they take on the Hokies in Blacksburg
Entering week 10 of the college football season, Boston College and Virginia Tech both remain in the race for their respective division titles. The Eagles are 3-1 in the ACC and with Clemson coming to Chestnut Hill next week, Boston College has an opportunity to wrestle control of the Atlantic away from the mighty Tigers. Virginia Tech, along with Virginia and Pittsburgh, has just one conference loss and with games remaining against the Panthers and the Cavaliers, the path is open for the Hokies to win the Coastal.
Boston College is coming off a solid win over Miami, but Virginia Tech stumbles into the game as losers of three of their last five, including last Thursday night’s ugly loss to Georgia Tech. With three important Coastal games remaining, the Hokies need to show improvement this week versus Boston College.
Boston College at Virginia Tech
Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 3 at 3:45 p.m. ET
TV: ACC Network
Spread: Boston College -2
Three Things to Watch
1. AJ Dillon
After missing two games with an injury, the Boston College workhorse ran for 149 yards and a score in the win over Miami. Dillon has actually averaged more yards per carry this season than he did in his electric freshman campaign; he’s just been slowed by that gimpy ankle. It has to be noted, it was at this time last year when Dillon exploded onto the scene, rushing for 598 yards in his three November games. Another concern for Virginia Tech is that their rush defense has been torched in recent weeks. Yes, Georgia Tech’s 465 yards may be the result of their option system, but North Carolina’s mediocre ground game had 235 yards in the previous game. Dillon’s play is key as it could force a greater Tech emphasis on stopping the run, allowing the Eagles the opportunity to exploit...
2. The inexperienced Virginia Tech secondary
As much as going against Georgia Tech can skew your rush defense numbers in a bad way, it can also make your pass defense numbers look better. Despite the zero in the passing yards column for Georgia Tech last Thursday, Virginia Tech still ranks 10th in the ACC and 96th nationally in passing yards allowed per game. Boston College quarterback Anthony Brown is not going to win the Heisman by any means, but he has shown that in the right situations he can be dangerous. If Dillon can soften the Hokies' defense, a lot will be asked of safety Reggie Floyd and the youngsters on Virginia Tech's last line of defense.
3. Protecting Ryan Willis
Virginia Tech has shown it can move the ball through the air with Willis throwing to Damon Hazelton, Eric Kumah and others. The offensive line has done a pretty good job, for the most part, of giving him time to throw. They will be tested and then some by a Boston College front that leads the ACC and is third in the nation in sacks. Wyatt Ray is the team leader with nine sacks and Zach Allen on the other side is considered a top pro prospect. The Eagles’ pressure is more than just sacks as they force early throws and are in the backfield on running plays too. The Hokies' pass catchers are their primary offensive weapons and they can’t be utilized if Willis is on his back.
Virginia Tech has to get right and get right in a hurry. The Hokies are fortunate to be 3-1 in the ACC, surviving a scare against North Carolina and taking advantage of a porous Florida State team in week one. But they have everything in front of them. Because of the remaining games against the other Coastal contenders, the Hokies' division title hopes don’t hang in the balance this week the way it does for Boston College. The Eagles need this win to make next week’s Clemson game mean something. While winning the division may seem like a pipe dream to some as it is, falling two games behind Clemson would make that a virtual impossibility. But the Eagles will get by this week, though it won’t be easy. AJ Dillon won’t go crazy, but he will grind out more than 125 yards and Anthony Brown will be efficient throwing the ball. Ryan Willis will make some plays for Virginia Tech, but Boston College's defense will be just good enough to ensure a victory.
Prediction: Boston College 28, Virginia Tech 27
— Written by Jon Kinne, who has been part of the Athlon Contributor Network for three years, covering the ACC and Notre Dame. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.