Syracuse and Boston College enter Saturday's regular-season finale immensely disappointed by their performances last week. The Eagles fell on the road to lowly Florida State, losing 22-21 as the normally reliable defense struggled to stop FSU, allowing the Seminoles to rack up more than 450 yards. The run game didn't really get going either. Syracuse wasn't even competitive in a 36-3 loss to Notre Dame in Yankee Stadium. The Orange had Eric Dungey go down with an injury, and the defense looked lost at times against the Fighting Irish.
Syracuse has had a great season and can put itself in a good position for a very good bowl game with a win on Saturday. The Orange enter the contest 8-3 with the losses coming to Notre Dame, Clemson and Pittsburgh. They boast a very balanced offense, averaging more than 200 yards both on the ground and through the air. Their problem is on the defensive side of the ball, where they are allowing more than 430 yards per contest.
Boston College is 7-4 on the year and figures to get itself a solid bowl as well. The Eagles typically go as running back AJ Dillon goes, although they did find some success during his brief absence a few weeks ago. They are actually being out-rushed by Syracuse this season. Boston College's defense is really strong for the most part, as the Eagles have held their opponents to just 24.2 points per contest.
These two played last year in the Carrier Dome, with BC winning 42-14 after racking up 333 yards on the ground and forcing three Orange turnovers. Syracuse has actually won five of its last nine in Chestnut Hill, including a 28-20 win two years ago.
Syracuse at Boston College
Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 24 at 12 p.m. ET
Spread: Boston College -7
Three Things to Watch
One has to wonder about Syracuse's psyche after getting undressed in Yankee Stadium. The Orange put a lot into that game against the nationally ranked Irish and came up really small in the process. They may struggle to get up for this one, although coach Dino Babers has been good at keeping his players focused in past situations when they could have struggled. Boston College has lost two straight after winning three in a row. I don't think there will be any confidence issues, but it's something to watch.
2. Will the Orange defense get squeezed?
There are a lot of efficiency numbers that say that Syracuse's defense has been good this season. Since the loss to Clemson, the Orange have allowed 30 points or more four times. Against the better passing attacks, they've struggled to keep teams in check. Boston College QB Anthony Brown has been pretty good this season with 17 touchdowns to just seven interceptions. Brown has several different options to throw to, whether it's Kobay White or Tommy Sweeney at the tight end position.
Still, Boston College's offense goes as the running attack goes. AJ Dillon has 10 rushing touchdowns and is averaging almost five yards per carry. When he missed some time, Ben Glines came in and kept things going with 5.6 yards per carry and three touchdowns himself. Syracuse has given up 150 rushing yards to three straight opponents and will have to tighten things up in that department this week.
3. DeVito or Dungey?
As mentioned above, Eric Dungey left Syracuse's last game with an injury that kept him out for the rest of the contest. The senior is the heartbeat of the offense with 14 touchdowns and six interceptions. He's also really mobile with almost 700 yards rushing and 12 TDs. The up-tempo offense seems a lot smoother when Dungey is in there. The only downside is that he makes throws from time to time that leave Syracuse fans scratching their heads.
If Dungey can't go, then it's Tommy Devito's team, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Devito has completed only 50.6 percent of his passes, but he has good touch and is able to open things up deep. The young signal caller has four touchdowns and three interceptions. He's nowhere near as mobile, though, with 23 rushes for minus-17 yards. Boston College has been vulnerable through the air the past few weeks, giving up 281 yards to Virginia Tech, 295 to Clemson and 322 to Florida State.
Both of these teams could make a case for being the second-best team in the conference. Boston College has lost two straight and will be eager to close out their regular season with a win. Syracuse is coming off a poor effort against Notre Dame and will want to gather some momentum and potentially improve the resume for the bowl committees around the country. Chestnut Hill should have a good atmosphere, and I think that will help propel the home team to win a shootout.
Prediction: Boston College 35, Syracuse 27
— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.