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Syracuse football 2017 opponent preview: Boston College Eagles

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We saved the (best?) for last.

NCAA Football: Syracuse at Boston College Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange football offseason continues, but we’ve found plenty to discuss in the meantime. After diving into 11 of Syracuse’s (very difficult) opponents for 2017, today we arrive at the final one. The final foe:

Boston College Eagles

School: Boston College

Mascot: Eagles

#BRAND Slogan: “Ever to Excel”

Alternate #BRAND Slogan Suggestions: “Be a Dud.” “BCause someone has to go here.” “Four-time #OrangeEagle losers.”

Recommended Blog: BC Interruption

Conference: ACC

NCAA Football: Quick Lane Bowl-Boston College vs Maryland Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Coach: Steve Addazio, 5th year. Addazio played for Central Connecticut through 1981 (we should ask him about game one!), then eventually joined the staff at Western Connecticut State. After an extended stay at Cheshire High School in Connecticut, he ended up at some place called Syracuse, where he stayed through 1998. Addazio served as an assistant at Notre Dame, Indiana and Florida through 2010, before finally stepping up to a head coaching gig in 2011.

Taking over Temple in 2011, he kept Al Golden’s old ship afloat with the Owls, winning nine games in year one. Then things sort of fell apart in year two. But we never got to see if that would continue, since he was off to Boston College by 2013.

Inheriting a team full of seniors in year one, Addazio went 7-6, then mimicked that record in 2014. After plummeting to 3-9 in 2015, he used a manageable schedule to get back to 7-6 in 2016 and even earning his first bowl win at BC (over Maryland). While the defense has been great each year, the offense has been anemic. Sidenote: Addazio coached on the offensive side of the ball before he became a head coach.

2016 Record: (7-6) (2-6)

Recapping Last Season:

Things looked bad against good teams and good against bad teams through early October, as the Eagles started 3-3. Depending on your perspective, maybe the Syracuse game was the first sign of them pulling things together against a capable (we’re the ones writing this thing!) squad. Or maybe it was a sign that they just couldn’t keep up with non-cupcakes.

But then of course, they went out and beat NC State. After two blowout losses, they close with two wins over UConn and Wake Forest, before a bowl win over a Terrapins team we assumed was better. So while BC never really proved themselves to be seven-win caliber, they also never proved they weren’t.

Still, last year’s offense was miserable, as Bill Connelly will undoubtedly detail this week (this is a preview of what’s to come). The Eagles were second-to-last in offensive yards per game, 118th in scoring offense, dead last in first downs per game and also at or near the bottom in a host of other categories. Boston College couldn’t run super well, but Jon Hillman and Myles Willis could move the ball a bit on the ground. The passing game was embarrassing, however (under 144 yards per game).

What kept them in games was an elite defense, though. With a top-10 unit (in terms of yards allowed per game), they stopped most opponents in their tracks. BC tallied 47 sacks on the year. And they were one of eight teams to hold foes to under 110 rushing yards per game.

NCAA Football: Syracuse at Boston College Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

2017 Season Outlook:

Another manageable schedule could give the Eagles more than they deserve (though they have every right to put together a slate that gets them to the postseason). Central Michigan, Northern Illinois and UConn should all be non-conference wins, though they’ll likely take a loss vs. Notre Dame. Road games vs. Syracuse, Clemson and Louisville in ACC play certainly won’t assist much.

Defensively, Harold Landry is back, which is all Boston College may need to excel on that side of the ball once again. He had 22 tackles for loss in 2016, and 16.5 sacks. The ferocious defensive end is not just an all-conference player, but a likely All-American. Even as the team retools parts of the line around him, nearly all of the back-seven returns. BC does lose four of its top seven tacklers from last year, however. So despite Landry’s return, and Connor Strachan’s continued presence at middle linebacker, there’s still potential for slight regression.

On the offense, it really can’t get much worse. Patrick Towles put up numbers resembling an actual FBS quarterback (1,730 passing yards, 12 TD), but now he’s gone. The job will go to either freshman Anthony Brown -- once a Syracuse target -- or Darius Wade. Either will probably need some time to acclimate in the role. If not, at least they’ll have Hillman at running back. Their top four pass-catchers also return.

Syracuse Game Date: Saturday, November 25

Location: Carrier Dome, Syracuse, N.Y,

Odds of Orange Victory: 60 percent

Very Early Outlook:

Syracuse has a distinct speed advantage, and the potential to grow the talent gap between the two programs is real. Still, Landry’s a big difference-maker for the Eagles’ defense. And if Boston College can generate some consistent pressure and get hits on Dungey, they could turn the tide in their favor. Last season, Dungey threw for a career-high 434 yards on 32-of-38 passing against BC, however. If he can come anywhere near that against an Eagles team that’s still going to struggle scoring in any case, it’s a win for the Orange.