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Syracuse football 2019 opponent preview: Boston College Eagles

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“AH THEY JUST GANNA WIN SEVEN GAMES AGAIN?”

Holy Cross v Boston College Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images

Last week, we took a look at the Syracuse Orange’s attempt at a first-ever two-game winning streak against Florida State. While a new offensive line isn’t just materializing out of thin air for FSU, they’re still a talented squad at several positions, and especially on the defensive side of the ball. Having the game in Tallahassee this time around also has the potential to derail Syracuse’s try for two straight against the ‘Noles.

Perhaps you’re just now starting to entertain looking at this year’s opponents, since it’s only June. But since Syracuse football won 10 games last year, and I run this place, we’ve been at this for weeks (months) already. The Orange have plenty of challenges ahead — some of those greater than others. Today, we take a look at SU’s week 10 foe:

Boston College Eagles

School: Boston College

Mascot: Eagles

#BRAND Slogan(s): #WeAreBC, #DecideToFly

Alternate #BRAND Slogan Suggestions: #WhatHappenedToBeADude? OR #Where7And6Happens

Recommended Blog: BC Interruption

Conference: ACC

Coach: Steve Addazio, seventh year. Addazio played for Central Connecticut, then tried to make it as a pro for a bit, and also got his master’s from CCSU. He joined the Western Connecticut State staff in 1985, and took over Cheshire High School in Connecticut from 1988-94. Coaching in Connecticut obviously caught the attention of former Syracuse coach Paul Pasqualoni, who brought him on staff in 1995. Addazio left SU for Notre Dame in 1999, then Indiana before joining Florida from 2005-10. Two years as Temple’s head coach earned him the Boston College job. Since then, he’s #BeenADude and found creative ways to win exactly seven games in five of six years with the Eagles.

2018 Record: (7-5) (4-4)

Recapping Last Season:

A 3-0 start had Boston College ranked in September, but then they were blown out by Purdue. A win over Temple was followed by another loss, to NC State, but three straight wins had the Eagles at 7-2 with a top-20 ranking and College Gameday hosting duties vs. Clemson. They wouldn’t win another game, and the First Responder Bowl vs. Boise State was cancelled due to weather. New achievement unlocked!

Despite having standout running back AJ Dillon and two All-ACC offensive linemen, Boston College finished just 88th in offensive S&P+ and 110th in rushing S&P+. As is usually the case with the Eagles, running a good back into the ground eventually leads to injury and him slowing considerably by season’s end. After rushing for 652 yards in his first five games, he had just 456 the rest of the year. Though Anthony Brown did throw 20 touchdowns last year, his play was pretty inconsistent under center. Nine of those scores came from early wins over UMass and Wake Forest. Brown also topped 200 passing yards just four times in 2018.

On defense, Boston College found its typical success under Addazio, fielding a top-40 defense with the aid of a strong effort from the defensive line. Zach Allen turned a 15-TFL senior year into a third round NFL Draft selection, and Allen, Tanner Karafa and Wyatt Ray combined for 35 TFLs on the year from the defensive line. That pressure combined with a ball-hawking secondary made this a big-play group that showed abilities to turn games — at least early in the year. BC defended 70 passes (20th-best in the country), and Hamp Cheevers tied SU’s Andre Cisco for the national interception lead with seven. Still, a late fade ranked them just 49th against the pass — per S&P+ — with the last four opponents each passing for more yards than the last (culminating in Syracuse’s 362-yard passing effort to close out the year).

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

2019 Season Outlook:

Brown and Dillon are back, as is top receiver Kobay White (33 catches, 526 yards in 2018), but they lose four starters from last year’s line — including first round pick Chris Lindstrom and third-team All-ACC tackle Aaron Monteiro. Miami transfer Hayden Mahoney brings some experience, as does returning tackle Ben Petrula. But this is a group that will have to make a lot of progress over the course of the season to avoid a drop-off from last year’s already paltry offensive production.

The defense loses plenty as well, with three starters departing on the line (Ray Smith, and the aforementioned Allen and Ray), along with four of the top five defensive backs and top linebacker Connor Strachan. There’s talent remaining in the form of players like Karafa, linebacker Max Richardson and cornerback Brandon Sebastian. However, the guys who were largely accountable for last year’s defensive success up front and in the secondary, aren’t there and that’s going to present quite a few challenges.

BC’s schedule doesn’t help either. While it’s likely they can go 3-1 to start the year (they start with Virginia Tech, but then play three very winnable games against Richmond, Kansas and Rutgers), the rest of the slate is a bear. From September 28 on, they’re favored (per S&P+) in in just one game, and even that one (Louisville) is by just a 52% to 48% margin. Closing with four out of six on the road against six of the seven best teams on the schedule puts an incredible amount of stress on the first half of the year and an upset or two.

Syracuse Game Date: Saturday, November 2

Location: Carrier Dome, Syracuse, N.Y.

Odds of Orange Victory: 65 percent

Very Early Outlook vs. Syracuse:

Syracuse has one of college football’s best returning defensive end tandems in Kendall Coleman and Alton Robinson. Combine that with what’s potentially a stronger passing attack this year with Tommy DeVito at the controls, and Syracuse’s strengths look poised to take full advantage of BC’s clear weaknesses this year. Having the game at the Dome is an added bonus, and certainly players that were on the field for the last time these teams met in Syracuse (a 42-14 Eagles win over a hapless SU squad) are anxious for some revenge.