BC football is back this Saturday, so it's time to conclude our preview of this season. If you missed them, make sure to check out Parts One, Two, and Three as well. Now on to the final three games:
Game 10: vs. NC State, Nov. 12
Tom O'Brien will return once again to the site of his old job - although now that no students remain at BC from his time as head coach, the boos will likely be more subdued this time around. NC State has been soundly beaten both times they've entered Chestnut Hill with TOB as the head coach, so will this game be more of the same?
The Wolfpack will likely struggle generating offense with their current group, headlined by junior QB Mike Glennon (starting for the first time this season), RB Mustafa Greene (who, like BC's own Montel Harris, comes with a multitude of injury concerns), and a bunch of rookies as WRs. NC State's most experienced unit on offense will probably be its offensive line, so the Eagle linebackers will need to exploit any available gaps when blitzing and effectively cover NC State's tight ends and slot receivers until the D-Line can get some pressure.
NC State looks to be much stronger on defense, however. The Wolfpack will return solid veterans at all three levels of defense with no clear weaknesses. As such, the bland "Nyquil" offenses of the past two years won't work in this game - Rogers will need to create a more nuanced, complex game attack that catches the Wolfpack off guard. Hopefully, by this point in the season, such a game plan will be normal for the BC offense.
Prediction: Win. This game might end up being a low-scoring, rather boring affair, since both teams' strengths figure to be on the defensive side. Since I think BC's offense is stronger overall than that of NC State, and since the BC seniors might have added motivation playing their last home game, I'll give the nod to the Eagles.
Game 11: @ Notre Dame, Nov. 19 4:00 PM
In the second to last game of the season, The Eagles will continue the "Holy War" by venturing to South Bend (along with plenty of BC students packed into rented RVs) to take on the perennially over-hyped Fighting Irish. Despite their penchant for failing to live up to preseason predictions, the Irish will still be one of BC's most formidable opponents this year.
Brian Kelly recently named Dayne Crist the starting quarterback (ostensibly for the entire season), so the Eagles will be facing a veteran QB behind center that, while not spectacular, can find his receivers when open (it helps to have the excellent Michael Floyd catching your passes). Notre Dame's running game doesn't get as much press but the tandem of Cierre Wood and Jonas Gray should at least be solid. Still, Notre Dame's running game is its weak spot, so BC will need to focus its efforts on containing Floyd and the other receivers and hoping its D-Line can handle itself against Notre Dame's average offensive line.
Notre Dame's defense is even deeper than its offense, and runs the gamut from super-hyped recruits (defensive end Aaron Lynch) to star veterans (linebacker Manti Te'o). If it plays up to its potential, the defense of the Irish could be one of the top units in the FBS. To have a chance in this game, BC's offense will need to play an almost perfect game, from Rogers' game plan to Rettig's decision making to the play of the offensive line in the trenches.
Prediction: Loss. Notre Dame's offense doesn't scare me that much outside of Michael Floyd, but its defense looks to be good enough that BC's offense could be embarrassed in front of a hostile crowd. I wouldn't be surprised again to see another low-scoring game, but unless Spax and Rogers can pull an offensive rabbit out of their metaphorical hat, I can't see BC coming away with a win in this game.
Game 9: @ Miami, Nov. 25 3:30 PM
In case you missed the news, most of the Miami players involved in the Nevin Shapiro scandal got off fairly easy, as most players (including QB Jacory Harris) need only miss one game (note, however, these suspensions are separate from the "NCAA enforcement process," meaning the much-discussed "death penalty" or other sanctions for the Miami program as a whole, such as voiding games, are still on the table). Despite this relatively good news for the Hurricanes, Miami is still a team largely in flux and will make an interesting final opponent for the Eagles.
Like BC, Miami is looking to transition to a more "pro-style" offense under, coincidentally, another former Vikings offensive coordinator, Jeff Fisch. It remains to be seen how well Jacory Harris, who often seems more comfortable as a running quarterback, will fit into this scheme. Either way, Miami will put a dominant offensive line on the field led by former top recruit Seantrel Henderson, which should give Harris time to find one of his group of solid receivers (led by senior Travis Benjamin) and create holes for inexperienced running backs Lamar Miller and Mike James. BC's defense will need to focus on somehow penetrating the 'Cane offensive line and getting Harris on the move, where the linebackers will ideally be able to wrap him up before he does too much damage with his feet.
Miami will also debut a new defensive coordinator, Mark D'Onofrio. D'Onofrio inherits a solid unit returning a number of veterans - but potentially lacking in depth - headlined by linebacker Sean Spence. If anything, Miami's secondary will be its weak spot, so hopefully by this point in the year Rettig and the BC WRs will have developed enough chemistry and experience to exploit any weaknesses that present themselves.
Prediction: Loss. This game might be the hardest for me to predict. With a combination of injuries, depth chart changes, and suspensions, the teams playing when this game rolls around might be very different from how they are presently constituted. I think BC will be able to achieve moderate success against Miami's defense, but I also think the same can be said of Miami's offense against the Eagle defense. In the end I chose Miami due to home field advantage (even if Miami has some of the worst fans in all of college sports in terms of attendance).
Summary: After finishing my predictions I have BC as a 7-5 team this year (5-3 in the ACC), but I wouldn't be surprised to see them finish at 8-4 either. These moderately decent numbers mirror the moderately decent team BC looks to field this year. Anything lower than 7 wins and this season can probably be considered a failure, with anything over 8 wins being an impressive showing.