On the surface, a matchup pitting a former Top 10 Clemson Tigers team against the Eagles of Boston College would seem to heavily favor the team from the south. Vegas set the game spread at -11.5 which was quickly pushed down by bettors remembering Clemson's past struggles in Chestnut Hill (lost by six in a game they were favored by seven in 2010).
The chance for struggle only worsened with Thursday's announcement that star receiver Sammy Watkins won't be making the trip.
The spread now has Clemson favored by only a touchdown. Watkins will remain in Clemson where he will nurse his stomach virus back to health. Remember that Watkins only just returned to the field two weeks ago after missing the first couple games serving out his suspension. This loss comes on the heels of the announcement that fellow wide receiver Martavis Bryant will also miss the game.
Down two of their top four receivers, Clemson will go up against a team that will present some offensive challenges. Quarterback Chase Rettig has been solid on the season, putting up Tajh Boyd-like numbers (951 yards, six TDs and one interception). Their running game isn't much to speak of, but even with a one dimensional attack, Clemson's secondary hasn't really proved they can stop anybody. Perhaps Travis Blanks changing positions and the team focusing on tackling drills this week in practice will help.
Because of Clemson's secondary issues, they will allow points, putting pressure on the offense to score. DeAndre Hopkins has proven he can handle being the No. 1 option in Watkins' absence. The last time Andre Ellington played BC, he went for 117 yards on 22 carries. The game temperature will be around 61 degrees, not cold enough to have much effect on Clemson.
Though Watkins is gone for this game, (gone probably also signifying his chances at the Heisman this year), Clemson should still win this game. It will most likely be close, but Clemson's fire power remains enough to best what can only be considered, at this point, a lower-tier ACC team.