Boston College - Clemson Matchup

Boston College and #18 Clemson face off this Saturday in a game that could ultimately decide the ACC Atlantic title. Clemson, BC and Florida State are predicted by most to be the top three teams in the division. Clemson is currently listed as a 2 1/2 point favorite. The big concern for the Eagles is the health of quarterback Matt Ryan who is nursing a sprained ankle. Ryan is currently listed as questionable for Saturday's game. BC defensive lineman B.J. Raji will be suspended for the first half because of a punch he threw in last week's game. Clemson has some injury problems of their own. Starting linebackers Tramaine Billie and Anthony Waters will miss the BC game (Waters is out for the year). Billie and Waters combined for 27 tackles in last year's game against BC. Here are some of the key players along with their 2005 statistics.

The Quarterbacks
Matt Ryan -- 62.1% comp, 1,514 yards, 8 TD, 5 INT
Will Proctor -- 58.0% comp, 281 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT

Top Rushers
L.V. Whitworth -- 807 yards, 4.3 ypc, 5 TD
  Andre Callender -- 708 yards, 5.0 ypc, 3 TD
James Davis -- 879 yards, 5.3 ypc, 9 TD
  Reggie Merriweather -- 715 yards, 4.8 ypc, 7 TD

Top Receivers
Tony Gonzalez (WR) -- 28 catches, 414 yards, 5 TD
  Kevin Challenger (WR) -- 16 catches, 184 yards, 1 TD
  LV Whitworth (RB) -- 12 catches, 244 yards, 0 TD
Chansi Stuckey (WR) -- 64 catches, 770 yards, 4 TD
  Aaron Kelly (WR) -- 47 catches, 575 yards, 2 TD
  Thomas Hunter (TE) -- 13 catches, 120 yards, 0 TD

Top Defenders
Jamie Silva (FS) -- 87 tackles, 1 INT
  DeJuan Tribble (CB) -- 57 tackles, 2 INT
  Brian Toal (LB) -- 53 tackles, 2 sacks
Nick Watkins (LB) -- 99 tackles, 5 tackles for loss
  CJ Gaddis (S) -- 59 tackles, 3 passes br up
  Gaines Adams (DE) -- 56 tackles, 9.5 sacks

The Kickers
Ryan Ohliger -- 9/14 FG, 19/20 PAT
Jad Dean -- 24/31 FG, 34/35 PAT

The Punters
Johnny Ayers -- 41.3 yards per punt
Cole Chason -- 36.4 yards per punt

The Kick Returners
DeJuan Tribble -- 18.8 yds per KO return,
11.0 yds per punt return
Jacoby Ford -- Freshman

Final Analysis

Obviously, BC cannot afford to play this game without Matt Ryan. If Ryan plays, and is relatively mobile, he could have a huge day. Without Billie and Waters, the Clemson defense is a bit less experienced and far less imposing that it would have been. Clemson still has defensive end Gaines Adams, the only defensive player to get a vote in the ACC Preseason Player of the Year poll. On the other side of the ball, Clemson returns nine starters including two 700+ yard rushers and two 500+ yard receivers. Receiver Chansi Stuckey was an All-ACC first teamer last season. BC will have their hands full with this offense. If the BC defense plays against Clemson the way they played against Central Michigan, they have no chance to win this game. The good news for BC is that quarterback Charlie Whitehurst is no longer behind center for the Tigers. Senior Will Proctor has taken over and will be making only his second career ACC start on Saturday (the first was against Duke last season). Clemson kicker Jad Dean was second team All-ACC last season.

It's difficult to make a prediction because of the status of Matt Ryan. Will he play? If he plays, will he be healthy enough to be effective? Ryan was able to perform at a high level last week despite the ankle problem but Clemson is not Central Michigan. If Ryan is limping around the field, the BC passing attack is in trouble. Without Billie and Waters in the Clemson lineup, BC's chances of running the ball effectively increases dramatically. The BC ground game will be critical regardless of who plays quarterback. Stopping the Tiger offense will be a difficult task. Clemson has two excellent running backs, two outstanding receivers and a very solid offensive line. BC's best chance to have success defensively is to put pressure on the inexperienced Will Proctor. The Eagles need to find a pass rush between now and Saturday. If the game comes down to a field goal, Clemson will have a huge advantage. Unfortunately, all roads point to a Clemson victory. I hope I'm wrong this time.

Prediction: Clemson 27 BC 17

Clemson Links
Official Site
Tiger Illustrated
CBS Sportsline

Clemson by the Numbers

Clemson is 7-6-2 against BC but BC is 3-0-1 in the last four meetings.

Clemson was 6-1 in their last seven games last season.

Clemson will start seven seniors on offense, but only two on defense.

Statistic (2005)
Offense - Run 59 50
Offense - Pass 35 45
Offense - Total 55 51
Defense - Run 5 25
Defense - Pass 62 29
Defense - Total 14 16

Offensive Lines
Avg Height 6'4" 6'5"
Avg Weight 304 314