Boston College and Virginia Tech will have had 12 days to get ready for their key ACC match up. This game will reshape the national title race as both schools are legitimate contenders. The Eagles started the season out of the Top 25, but now have the second-highest ranking in school history. They were No. 1 for one week in 1942.
The Eagles have a fairly easy schedule that has dampened their credibility for a national title. The “cupcake” opponents of the Eagles are simply not respected enough to give Boston College true recognition as a contender for the big dance. The Eagles have crept up to a #2 ranking by default, but I expect them to falter when they find a legitimate foe on the road in Virginia Tech this Thursday. If the Hokies emerge victorious, the Eagles can still win the ACC championship with one loss.
Matt Ryan deserves the national attention he's been receiving. Ryan has completed 63% of his passes for 2,148 yards, 17 touchdowns, and six interceptions. He threw for two touchdowns and wasn't intercepted in a 22-3 win over Virginia Tech on Oct. 12, 2006, the teams' last meeting.
But don’t forget the skill that running back Andre Callender brings to this offense. Callender's takes advantage of a zone blocking scheme that allows for him to shift along the line of scrimmage until he sees a seam. Callender has the speed and lateral agility to pull off this difficult task but more importantly, he has the vision. In this game we will see Callender favor the right side as the Eagles lost a strong left guard, Ryan Poles, to a season-ending Achilles' injury against Notre Dame.
The Eagles also have another strong running back in L.V. Whitworth. Whitworth isn't quite as quick or agile, but he is stronger and can pick nitty-gritty yards between the tackles. Expect to see some great battles between Whitworth and Virginia Tech’s physical defensive tackle, Carlton Powell. Powell is excellent at demolishing interior-runs and leads this Hokie defense that has only allowed 2.8 yards per carry.
Virginia Tech have not been extremely productive on offense due to deficiencies in an offensive line hampered by injuries and inexperience. Virginia Tech is averaging only 119.4 yards rushing, 90th nationally.
However, the Hokies have a developing offense that has scored more than 40 points in their last two games. Against Duke, Freshman quarterback Tyrod Taylor went down with a sprained ankle early in the second quarter. He was replaced by last season’s starter, Sean Glennon. Glennon completed 16 of 21 passes for 258 yards and two touchdowns against Duke and showed no sign of atrophy. If Taylor is unable to play this Thursday, Glennon is more than capable to step in and take charge.
It is uncertain whether Taylor or Glennon will play on Thursday. In my opinion, a rough game is brewing and it would be unwise for the injured freshman to return to the field unless he is one hundred percent healed up. This uncertainty as to which quarterback will play may seem like a negative for Virginia Tech.
Try to analyze the situation from the vantage point of Boston College. They will have to prepare for both a mobile quarterback and an efficient pocket-passer. Good luck with that.
The Eagles have the nation's best rushing defense, allowing only 46.4 yards per game. They held Notre Dame to 27 yards on the ground. The Eagles also have one of the best offenses in total yards. Their running game should be productive enough to keep the Hokies guessing and allow Ryan to produce big numbers.
A few challengers for the Heisman dropped out of competition this weekend. Matt Ryan is a great candidate to take home the hardware and expect him to get an invite to NYC. A great performance in this game, regardless of a win or loss, is sure to boost Ryan in many voters eyes.
The statistics and conversation lean toward a Boston College victory. My gut is causing me to throw my hat in with the Hokies on this one, and we've all seen the commercials- Hunger gets what hunger wants.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 24, Boston College 20
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