Boston College - NC State Matchup

The BC Eagles (6-3) will look to avoid losing three consecutive games in a single season for the first time since 1998 when they take on North Carolina State Saturday night in Chestnut Hill. In fact, the losses to Virginia Tech and North Carolina mark only the second time since 2000 that the Eagles have lost two straight games (they had been 16-1 in games following losses since the start of 2001). North Carolina State (4-4) is coming off a huge win, 20-15, at Florida State last week. Matt Ryan will start at quarterback for the Eagles who are currently a 4 1/2 point favorite. Here are the key players:

The Quarterbacks
Matt Ryan -- 65.5% comp, 843 yards, 4 TD, 3 INT
Marcus Stone -- 46.7% comp, 443 yards, 5 TD, 3 INT

Top Rushers
L.V. Whitworth -- 540 yards, 4.3 ypc, 3 TD
  Andre Callender -- 496 yards, 5.0 ypc, 2 TD
Andre Brown -- 469 yards, 6.6 ypc, 4 TD
  Toney Baker -- 326 yards, 4.5 ypc, 4 TD

Top Receivers
Will Blackmon (WR) -- 40 catches, 418 yards, 3 TD
  Larry Lester (WR) -- 32 catches, 357 yards, 2 TD
TJ Williams (TE) -- 27 catches, 286 yards, 1 TD
  Tramain Hall (RB) -- 22 catches, 249 yards, 2 TD
  Brian Clark (WR) -- 18 catches, 324 yards, 4 TD

Top Defenders
Jamie Silva (FS) -- 65 tackles, 3 TFL
  Ray Henderson (LB) -- 55 tackles, 5 TFL, 1 INT
  Brian Toal (LB) -- 52 tackles, 7 TFL
Stephen Tulloch (LB) -- 98 tackles, 11.5 TFL, 3 sacks
  Garland Heath (ROV) -- 44 tackles, 4 INT, 5 PBU
  Mario Williams (DE) -- 35 tackles, 8 sacks

The Kickers
William Troost -- 1/2 FG, 13/13 PAT
John Deraney -- 11/13 FG, 20/20 PAT

The Punters
Johnny Ayers -- 41.3 yards per punt
John Deraney -- 40.8 yards per punt

The Kick Returners
Will Blackmon -- 21.1 yds per KO return,
9.0 yds per punt return (1 TD)
Darrell Blackman -- 31.1 yards per KO ret
6.4 yards per punt return

Final Analysis

I don't think any conference has been more unpredictable than the ACC this season. Two weeks ago Virginia Tech looked like a perfect football team against BC while Miami looked very beatable, at least in the first half, against North Carolina. Last week, Miami ripped apart the Hokies. After surviving against Miami and BC, Florida State raced out to a 5-0 record and looked like they might be undefeated heading into the ACC title game. Since then, they are 2-2 and could easily be 1-3. North Carolina State was arguably the second worst team in the ACC after a loss to Wake Forest dropped them to 2-4. Since then, the Wolfpack have won two in a row, including a win at FSU, and have developed a potent running game to go along with a solid defense. I expect that this week's game will be a defensive struggle, not unlike the Clemson and North Carolina games.

I am thrilled that Coach O'Brien has finally decided to name Matt Ryan the starting quarterback. Ryan should be able to provide a spark that the Eagle offense so desperately needs. It will also be great to be back in Alumni Stadium where BC is averaging 32 points per game (as compared to 15 ppg on the road). The Eagles will have their work cut out for them. NC State is currently ranked 19th in the nation in total defense (they led the NCAA a year ago). Among the defensive stars are defensive end Mario Williams who has eight sacks and linebacker Stephen Tulloch who leads the Pack with 98 tackles.

The NC State offense was mired in quicksand until two weeks ago when they starting featuring freshman running back Andre Brown. Brown rushed for 248 yards and a pair of touchdowns against Southern Miss then followed that performance with a 26 carry, 179 yard performance against the Seminoles last week. Quarterback Marcus Stone has completed only 19 passes in the past two weeks combined.

There aren't any gimmes in the ACC (well, unless Duke is on the schedule). In the past, BC could have a lousy performance against Rutgers or Temple and still come out on top. As last week's game proved, those days are behind us. I think Matt Ryan is going to be a very solid quarterback for the next two years, but right now it's a guess as to how he will perform. I wouldn't be surprised to see him throw for 300 yards and 4 TDs nor would be I be shocked to see him complete 45% of his passes and throw 4 INTs. This is only his fourth starting assignment so I hope BC fans aren't expecting instant miracles. I think Ryan will perform well enough to win and there is no reason to believe that Brown will dismantle the BC defense the way he did against Southern Miss and Florida State. This game will probably come down to penalties and special teams. That makes me uneasy, but I'm going to pick the Eagles anyway.

Final Score: Boston College 17 NC State 13

NC State Links
Official Site
Rivals Site
CBS Sportsline
Fox Sports

NC State by the Numbers

NC State has converted only 27% of its third down opportunities into first downs. NC State opponents have converted only 24% of third downs.

NC State ranks third in the nation in kickoff return average (28.9 yards).

Statistic BC NCSt
Offense - Run 65 79
Offense - Pass 31 72
Offense - Total 50 80
Defense - Run 9 22
Defense - Pass 42 21
Defense - Total 18 19