Who: Boston College (6-3, 3-2) vs. Virginia (3-6, 2-3)
Where: Scott Stadium -- Charlottesville, VA
When: 3:30pm EST on ESPN360.com
The Back Story...
This is only the 2nd meeting between the 2 schools since BC joined the ACC, and the first in Charlottesville, the first was in 2005 at Alumni Stadium. Eagles fans will remember the malicious chop block thrown by Virginia OL Brad Butler on Mathias Kiwanuka. BC responded by dominating Virginia the remainder of the game with a punishing offensive line led by future NFL players Jeremy Trueblood, Gosder Cherilus, and Josh Beekman, winning the game 28-17. The Eagles racked up nearly 500 yards of total offense on that rainy afternoon, led by Andre Callendar's 11 carries for 119 yards.
Know Thy Enemy...
The Cavaliers (or the 'Hoos, as there fans are known to call them) are 3-6 on the season including a loss to 1-AA William and Mary on opening weekend. Things have come in 3's this year, as after beginning the season 0-3 the Cavs ripped off 3 straight wins including a dominating 16-3 win over North Carolina. Since that winning streak Virginia has lost it's last 3 including an ugly 52-17 loss to Miami last week.
Head coach Al Groh has been dodging bullets for years now while navigating a perennially mediocre football team. This year he may not be so lucky. Faced with consecutive losing seasons, time may be winding down for Groh. Virginia though, hasn't quit on the season and boasts the nations 25th ranked passing defense (49th overall defense) in the country. This has been offset though by the absolutely abysmal offense which ranks dead last in Division 1-A (263 ypg). There is some talent on that side of the ball though, as Mikell Simpson and Rashawn Jackson provide the running attack, and senior wideout Vic Hall will lineup at just about every position on the field at one point. Quarterback is up in the air right now as senior dual threat QB Jameel Sewell sat out last weeks game against Miami and is listed as questionable for tomorrows affair. If he can't go look for Mark Verica to take the bulk of the snaps. Verica completed just 11/29 for 75 yards last week in the blowout at Land Shark Stadium in Miami but also was injured and is listed as questionable.
The Eagles come in off their bye week and appear to be getting healthy heading for the stretch run. They'll welcome back Rich Lapham, Mike McLaughlin, and possibly Alex Albright after all 3 sat out the 31-10 stomping of Central Michigan back on Halloween. Damik Scafe and Will Thompson should also see their roles expand this weekend after seeing limited action the past few weeks. Both have been hampered by injuries this season. Scafe in particular will be a welcome site to a beleaguered defensive line that has been gashed the last 2 weeks for big gains. Freshman RB Rolandan Finch will sit this one out and probably one more as he continues to recover from mono.
What To Watch For...
Eagles QB Dave Shinskie
After an efficent day against the Chippewas, will need to be on his game against the Cavaliers pass defense. Shinskie has struggled the most this season when faced with an opponent with a strong defensive line and/or a good secondary. The Cavs will provide half of that equation.
Who the Hell is Playing QB for Virginia?!
Jameel Sewell did not play last week against Miami, and backup QB Mark Verica got injured during the Miami game. Only senior WR Vic Hall has taken snaps at QB besides those 2. Will it really come to that for Virginia? It could happen if neither is able to go. The only other scholarship QB active and available for the game will be sophomore Brendan Lane. Lane has not thrown a pass in a game in his college career. Bill McGovern should be licking his chops at the thought.
Cohesion on the Offensive Line
As I mentioned earlier, if nothing else, Virginia can defend the pass. That means that in order for the Eagles to be effective Shinskie will need time to throw, and Montel Harris will need holes to run through. The offensive line will need to turn in a top performance to ensure that a very winnable game doesn't get away from them.
Much as I would like to believe that this is the type of team that BC over the last decade would hammer (beleaguered coach, no offense, average defense), I don't think the Eagles cruise in this one. I think they'll struggle to move the ball through the air while the Virginia defense keys on the run. This could resemble the Notre Dame game to some extent. Ultimately, Virginia's inability to put points on the board with a 2nd/3rd string QB will be it's undoing as BC escapes with a uneasy win.
Line: BC -4
Score: BC 17 Virginia 10
Stay Tuned For...
A recap of tonights season opener for BC basketball as they take on Dartmouth!