Boston College Has Tough Test After Bye Week Against NC State

Written by Brett Korpi
In the three Weeks before their bye week, the Boston College Eagles (5-4. 3-3 ACC) were scorching hot. The team, whose fan base was chanting for head coach Steve Addazio to be fired after a 2-4 and 0-3 in the ACC record, had just ripped off three straight conference wins that culminated in a 35-3 demolition of Florida State.

The catalyst for the run the Eagles went on was the resurgence of an offense that scored 98 points in the first six games of the season and only 27 points in the three conference games. In their victories over Louisville, Virginia and the Seminoles, BC put up an astounding total of 121 points. Those three games bumped up their scoring average from 16 points-per-game to 24 and moved them from 119th to 90th in scoring offense rankings.

The question coming into their matchup with No. 23 NC State is whether or not the Eagles can sustain the energy that has mounted within the program.

“I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to maintain momentum. And maybe come out and have a little bit more staying power out there, because maybe a little bit more rested, maybe the legs are a little bit better,” Addazio said at his Monday press conference.

Despite their surge, the Eagles were banged up quite a bit especially on the defensive side of the ball. BC has lost multiple linebackers and was without out their best player, defensive end Harold Landry, against Florida State, and he was not himself the two games prior due to an ankle injury.

The hope is the week of rest did more positives in healing the Eagles than harming the progression. “We certainly look a little faster. I think we look a little energized. I hope we have the same rhythm,” Addazio said after Tuesday’s practice.

The player on offense that could have benefited the most from the time-off on the offensive is running back AJ Dillon. In the first six games, the true-freshman ran the ball 89 times for 333 yards. However, in the past three his workload increased significantly carrying the ball 99 times for 510 yards. Including 272 yards and four touchdowns against Louisville.

Dillon will be looking to break through a defense that is ranked 26th in the country against the rush. Teams are averaging 131 yards-per-game running the ball against the Wolfpack this year.

Last season, the Eagles snapped a 12-game ACC losing streak against NC State with their 21-14 win in Raleigh. However, they will be going against a much-improved team. Quarterback Ryan Finley is the leader of an offense that is averaging 30 PPG. The junior is 14th in the country in passing efficiency at 65.7%. And, is 19th with 2,519 passing yards.
Finley’s primary target is running back Jaylen Samuels who has caught 59 passes for 480 yards and four touchdowns. The Eagles will have a tough time matching up against the talented back.

“He’s (Samuels) an elite player in our conference. He’s got tremendous athleticism and skill. So, I think we’ll do a host of things to try to have a game plan to contend with him.” Addazio said of game planning for the agile back.

Not only will the Eagles be facing a dynamic offense but, a very hungry NC State (6-3, 4-1) team. The Wolfpack have lost their last two games against the No. 3 Notre Dame and No. 4 Clemson. The losses have eliminated them for the College Football Playoff hunt. And, saw their chances of an ACC title diminish significantly last week when they lost to the Tigers 38-31.

A victory over NC State will be of great importance for the Eagles, clinching a bowl berth, and giving them their first four-game ACC winning streak since 2010.

Kickoff for the nationally televised game on ABC and ESPN2 is at Noon, Saturday at Alumni Stadium.

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