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Clemson Tigers vs. Boston College Eagles Preview and Prediction


Maybe playing at home under the lights on a Friday night against a national power will ignite the type of spark Boston College desperately needs at the moment.

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As Clemson comes to Chestnut Hill on the heels of a thrilling win over Louisville last Saturday night that — at this early stage — appears to have major implications for the ACC Atlantic Division title and a College Football Playoff berth; the Tigers have to feel pretty good about where they stand compared to the beginning of the season, when their offense struggled a bit and a couple of their wins were too close for comfort.

Meanwhile, the Eagles may have gotten a bit of a confidence boost over the last two weeks, but the level of competition, with wins over Wagner and Buffalo, may not count for all that much in that department. For a program that hasn't won an ACC game since 2014, beating an FCS opponent and a struggling MAC team aren't going to calm a fan base that is restless for some actual progress.

Alumni Stadium's official attendance listed for the Buffalo game was 24,203, but the photos of the stands reveal it was probably a much smaller crowd than that.

Expect a bigger one when the Tigers come rolling in. The Eagles will be honoring 9/11 hero Welles Crowther, and the last two times they did, in a 2014 win over USC and loss to Florida State last year, the atmoshperes were electric. It could provide a boost for the hosts even if the prospects of an upset remain dim.

Clemson at Boston College

Kickoff: Friday, Oct. 7 at 7:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN

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Spread: Clemson -17

Three Things to Watch

1. Hangover effect

The Louisville game was the premier matchup nationally last week and lived up to its billing. A 42-36 win over the Cardinals and Heisman Trophy front-runner Lamar Jackson made for great drama and put Clemson in the driver's seat for every goal set out at the beginning of the season. However, it is inevitable that the emotional high from that showdown will result in a bit of a comedown against a Boston College team that is struggling and desperate to secure both its first ACC win in two years and some job security for head coach Steve Addazio. To avoid the shocker, Clemson has to approach this considerably weaker opponent with the same focus as it did a week ago.

2. Attack point

Say what you want about Boston College's overall state, but its front seven remains one of the best in the ACC. From defensive end Harold Landry to tackle Ray Smith to linebackers Matt Milano and Connor Strachan, that group is as capable of disrupting Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson's timing and closing running lanes for running back Wayne Gallman as anyone on the Tigers' schedule. On the flipside, Clemson's front seven is even more talented with better depth, so the challenges for both offensive lines in this game to help keep their quarterbacks clean and sustain drives are significant.

3. Two-headed Eagle

It's no secret that even though the Eagles have become more balanced with new offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler and quarterback Patrick Towles, this program still butters its bread by running the ball between the tackles. And while, yes, Wagner and Buffalo are not the best teams to gauge success in that respect, Addazio said the offensive line has made progress over that span. Junior Jonathan Hilliman remains the team's most talented running back and best breakaway threat, but the emergence of Davon Jones is something to keep an eye on. The redshirt freshman played defensive back and wide receiver in high school, but his 5-foot-10, 214-pound frame is better suited as a ball carrier. Although his 53 yards on 14 carries against the Bulls aren't eye-popping numbers, if the local product from Worcester, Mass., can provide an adequate complement to Hilliman, the Eagles will be in better position to establish the type of identity they're accustomed to.

Final Analysis

There may be a bit of an emotional letdown for the Tigers, but the level of confidence gained from last week's win should override that sentiment. Both defenses are strong, but Clemson's offense is light-years better than anything Boston College has fielded in a long time, and having faced the likes of Auburn and Louisville already, the Tigers have seen talented units just as daunting. The closest barometer to Clemson the Eagles have faced to this point is Virginia Tech, and the Hokies rolled to a 42-0 drubbing in that meeting. It's possible that the Eagles make the Tigers work for it a little harder than expected, but Clemson's talent and depth advantage should eventually lead to a decisive victory.

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Prediction: Clemson 38, Boston College 7

— 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.