Boston College Football: Bring on the Hokies

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Boston College Football: Bring on the Hokies
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Ever since I can remember, I've despised Virginia Tech. Maybe it was the pompous and arrogant Vick brothers. Maybe it’s their head coach Frank Beamer. Maybe it's just their two ACC championship victories over the Eagles. Whatever it is, I can’t help but hate the Hokies.

While BC and VT have split their games over the last decade, it seems every meaningful game goes to that team I simply can’t stand. Matt Ryan leads a last minute comeback to maintain a top five ranking, but Virginia Tech wins the ACC championship and gets to play in the Orange Bowl.

Tomorrow's game? Well, it's a big one for both teams.

As they look to prove that the preseason hype was warranted, Virginia Tech is still reeling from their loss to James Madison a few weeks ago. Boston College has a shot at winning the ACC Atlantic, but after two shaky games against lackluster competition, the Eagles need to show that they too are quality competition.

This is the first real performance benchmark for both teams, and it comes at a critical time. 

For all those BC fans out there who think that we can walk over this struggling Virginia Tech team, you better check yourself before you wreck yourself. VT may be without starting running back Ryan Williams, but their backups looked more than capable last week against East Carolina.

Factor in the dynamic and versatile quarterback play of Tyrod Taylor and you have an offense that can put up points. And as always, Beamer Ball is in effect with terrific special teams and big play defenders.

In fact, despite our home field advantage, the Hokies are four point favorites.

So what will be the keys to winning this crucial game? For starters, BC’s David Shinskie has to play like he is an entirely different quarterback. In last season's humiliating 48-14 defeat, Old Man Rivers was 1 of 12 for four yards and two interceptions. You read that right; he completed more passes to the opposing defense than to his own receivers.

Shinskie has improved statistically since last season even though he looks the same. Against a talented Virginia Tech secondary, it will be intriguing to see if Uncle Dave has matured as a passer. 

Expect the Eagles to ride Montel Harris tomorrow against a Virginia Tech defense that is far more adept at rushing the passer than stopping the run. If the Eagles can get out to an early lead, the combination of Harris and Phifer should be able to milk the clock and help dispense of the Hokies.

Of course, if the Eagles are slow out of the gates and fall behind early, there could be serious trouble. Against a defense that's playing the pass, Shinskie will be a sitting duck in the pocket. 

As for the Virginia Tech run game?

Ryan Williams may have been the best runner in the conference last season, but don't think that was entirely on his shoulders. Not only does Virginia Tech sport an outstanding offensive line, but they also have terrific depth at the running back position.

Last week against East Carolina, Darren Evans and David Wilson split carries after Williams went down with a hamstring injury. Together, they combined for 180 yards and three touchdowns on only 22 carries. Expect the bigger back Evans (6'0" 220 lbs) to get the start, but don't be surprised to see Wilson steal a few carries as a change of pace back.

There are many things about this particular Virginia Tech team that scare me. Their aggressive defense taking on an indecisive QB like Shinskie. Their unparalleled ability to make plays on special teams. But what scares me most, is Tyrod Taylor.

Through three games, the 6'1" senior has 509 yards through the air and 191 on the ground. He's not just a scrambling QB, he's a playmaker.

Taylor sports a 61 percent completion percentage, but what really amazes me is his ability to create something from nothing. On so many third down situations, Taylor is able to bide his time before making a solid decision. He has a knack for the back breaking play, and that terrifies me.

Against this bend but don't break defense, Taylor will put up yardage -- probably in the 250-300 total yard range. BC has to apply pressure to Taylor without over-pursuing and allowing the long scramble. The Eagles linebackers should be able to protect from the long run play, so the onus is on the secondary to keep Taylor in check. 

Boston College has high aspirations this season. With an easy schedule and a weak division, the Eagles have a legitimate shot at making the ACC championship game yet again. While they looked unimpressive against both Weber State and Kent State, the team has had a week off to rest, get healthy and come together as a team.

Despite the Vegas line and a well rounded Virginia Tech team, I expect Boston College to come out tomorrow and win. This Eagles team has a first-rate defense led by a superb line backing core. We have a massive offensive line and an unheralded superstar running back.

This may not be the “Matt Ryan Eagles” who could spread the ball around, but we can pound the run and wear out opposing defenses.

Final Prediction: 24-17 Boston College.

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