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Boston College Eagles vs. Virginia Tech Hokies Preview and Prediction

Isaiah Ford

Isaiah Ford

Neither Virginia Tech nor Boston College is quite where each respective program wants to be at the start of the season.

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Although the Eagles are coming off of a 26-7 win over UMass last weekend, they started off with a disappointing 17-14 loss in the opener to Georgia Tech and have yet to win an ACC game since 2014. Meanwhile, the Hokies had a promising start in their primetime, nationally-televised showdown with Tennessee, but gave away the lead and lost five fumbles in a 45-24 loss in their first game against an FBS opponent this season.

Both squads have played in unique neutral-site games so far, with BC's loss to Georgia Tech in Dublin, Ireland, and the Hokies' loss to Tennessee in front of the largest college football crowd ever at Bristol Motor Speedway. However, the Eagles have yet to play a game at Alumni Stadium, while this marks the second matchup at Lane Stadium in Blacksburg for the Hokies.

All of that matters a lot less, though, than what the actual players and coaches bring to the table, and what that is at this point has yet to yield a totally positive outcome against a quality opponent. So as these teams set to square off at one of the nation's best venues, look for one to try to find a measure of consistency that has yet to come to fruition.

Boston College at Virginia Tech

Kickoff: Saturday, Sept. 17 at 3:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN3

Spread: Virginia Tech -10

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Three Things to Watch

1. Turnover trouble

Through two games, Virginia Tech leads the nation in a category no one wants to lead the nation in: fumbles lost, at nine. The next closest team, Duke, has lost seven, and after that four are tied with just four. In other words, the Hokies have a major issue with holding on to the ball, and after jumping out to a 14-0 lead on the Volunteers last week, it cost them in a major way. This might be the best chance for BC to take advantage and pull off the upset because its defense has already recovered three fumbles. In that respect, keep an eye on Eagles middle linebacker Connor Strachan, a 6-foot, 237-pounder, who is coming on as one of the top players in the league at his position. Against UMass he forced one fumble and recovered another.

2. Receiver rumble

Virginia Tech's Isaiah Ford has already established himself as one of the top wide receivers in the ACC, and BC will obviously be looking to contain the 6-foot-2, 195-pound junior. Hokies head coach Justin Fuente, in his first year at the helm, will continually find ways to get him in one-on-one opportunities on the outside. The question is whether or not quarterback Jerod Evans can adequately get him the ball, as he misfired on one pass attempt that would have been a touchdown early in last week's game after Ford got behind his man. For BC, quarterback Patrick Towles has struggled at times to find a rhythm, but found Jeff Smith twice for touchdowns against UMass. If Smith can remain a threat, it will open up lanes for a BC rushing attack that to this point of the season has been a little disappointing.

3. Kicking into high gear

It appears the Eagles have finally found competency in their field goal kicking. Colton Lichtenberg has had a kick blocked, missed another and whiffed on a PAT this season, so BC head coach Steve Addazio made the switch against UMass to Mike Knoll. The junior from Copley, Ohio, who also holds down the team's punting duties, nailed both of his attempts last week, so the Eagles may finally have settled on a player whom they can count on, which hasn't been the case in a while.

Final Analysis

Given Boston College's defensive prowess, ability to force turnovers and Virginia Tech's extreme ball security issues, this game has upset potential. The Eagles, though, have yet to find a groove on offense, whereas the Hokies moved the ball fairly well at times against a talented Tennessee defense. Had the Hokies simply held on to the ball, maybe this is a 2-0 team right now. Ifs and buts aside, BC's defense should keep the Eagles in the game long enough to make things interesting, but the Hokies should be able to slip through enough times to earn the victory.

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Prediction: Virginia Tech 24, Boston College 17

— Written by Adam Kurkjian, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and is a reporter for the Boston Herald. He has covered the World Series, Super Bowl, Stanley Cup playoffs, Boston Marathon and Little League World Series, among other events from the high school, college and pro ranks. Follow him on Twitter @AdamKurkjian.