Boston College Eagles: Valuable test against Clemson Tigers in prime time

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 18: Zay Flowers #4 of the Boston College Eagles during the game against the Temple Owls at Lincoln Financial Field on September 18, 2021 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Cody Glenn/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 18: Zay Flowers #4 of the Boston College Eagles during the game against the Temple Owls at Lincoln Financial Field on September 18, 2021 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Cody Glenn/Getty Images) /

Death Valley has not treated the Boston College Eagles kindly in the last 15 years.

Saturday evening proves a perfect opportunity for Boston College to change their fortunes.

Taking to the road, the game has been circled on the calendar as a measuring stick for the Eagles (4-0). A season after nearly knocking off the Clemson Tigers, Boston College is looking to breakthrough and defeat the Tigers for the first time since 2010.

It has been even longer since a victory has been had in Death Valley, a 20-17 victory in 2007.

Clemson (2-2) has been the crown jewel of the ACC, with six straight conference titles. The Tigers had two national championships in that span. Though Clemson has stumbled a bit out of the gate in 2021, they still present a formidable stepping stone as Boston College looks to remain undefeated.

Boston College Eagles on offense

A return to a consistent run game has been a nice surprise so far this season for Boston College. Pat Garwo III is powering a ground attack that averages 220.5 rushing yards per game. Garwo has twice went over 150 yards and has totaled 412 on the year, averaging 6.8 yards per carry.

Now it’s time to get the passing game on track.

Not that the aerial show has been bad. It took a detour with the injury to Phil Jurkovec. The veteran Dennis Grosel has done well in managing the offense. He’s capable of airing it out, though there has been a small struggle with the deep ball.

Grosel is completing just over 64 percent of his passes this season. For the Eagles to be successful, Grosel will need to utilize Boston College’s full compliment of receivers and tight ends. Finding Zay Flowers (18 rec., 275 yards) is a must but the more Grosel can spread the ball around, the better chance Flowers can sneak some big plays in.

Boston College is averaging 41.3 points per game this season while Clemson allows only 12. The Tigers are allowing 293.8 yards per game.

One of the key areas to look for in this matchup is third-down conversions. Boston College is converting 57.1 percent while the Clemson defense is pretty stout at holding opponents to 35 percent. Even if the Eagles can find success near 50, the matchup could tilt in their favor.

The same can be said when the roles are flipped, too.

Boston College Eagles on defense

Focus has primarily been directed at the Boston College offense so far in 2021 but the defense has been doing their part, too.

And a huge reason has been their play on third down.

Opponents are only converting 29.6 percent this season. Keeping that trend going will be a must against what can be a dangerous Clemson offense.

In many ways, the Tigers are still getting their feet wet on that side of the ball. A team use to putting up numbers in bunches is only scoring 21.8 per game. Replacing multiple star players on that side of the ball can have that effect.

Quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei got experience last season and was the starting quarterback in last year’s matchup between the teams. Uiagalelei threw for 342 yards in that game but in four games this season has thrown for 586.

He can still get things done on the ground, an area where he hurt Boston College in 2020. Uiagalelei is Clemson’s second-leading rusher this season with 110 yards but the Tigers are also without their top-two running backs from fall camp.

Boston College will need to find ways to pressure — and also contain — Uiagalelei. The Eagles have only seven sacks thus far. The unit up front should continue to improve, especially as Marcus Valdez gets back into the swing of things.

Valdez made his season-debut last week against Missouri, logging one tackle. The defensive end had 37 tackles and two sacks in 2020.

Brandon Sebastian, Josh DeBerry and the talented secondary will also play a huge part in this game. The unit has six interceptions and pressing Clemson into turnovers is high priority.

Boston College Eagles: Deep, experienced secondary ready to roll. dark. Next

Boston College has the perfect opportunity make waves with a victory on Saturday evening. The ACC is wide-open and Boston College is primed to make a move. The Tigers have won 30-straight home games, adding to the weight of this game. A streak Boston College is hoping to snap, and a weight they are more than willing to take on.