Boston College - North Carolina Matchup

Boston College (6-2) will meet the North Carolina Tarheels (3-4) this weekend in Chapel Hill. Both teams are coming off road losses to top ten teams. The Eagles lost to Virginia Tech 30-10 while the Heels lost to Miami 34-16. This game will be a rematch of last year's Continental Tire Bowl which the Eagles won 37-24. The Eagles are currently listed as a 4 1/2 point favorite. Here are the key players:

The Quarterbacks
Quinton Porter -- 63.8% comp, 1,213 yards, 9 TD, 7 INT
Matt Baker -- 52.6% comp, 1,401 yards, 7 TD, 9 INT

Top Rushers
L.V. Whitworth -- 482 yards, 4.3 ypc, 3 TD
  Andre Callender -- 451 yards, 5.1 ypc, 1 TD
Barrington Edwards -- 362 yards, 3.6 ypc, 2 TD
  Ronnie McGill -- 210 yards, 4.4 ypc, 3 TD

Top Receivers
Will Blackmon (WR) -- 32 catches, 340 yards, 3 TD
  Larry Lester (WR) -- 25 catches, 303 yards, 1 TD
Jesse Holley (WR) -- 27 catches, 355 yards, 1 TD
  Jarwarski Pollock (WR) -- 15 catches, 154 yards, 2 TD

Top Defenders
Jamie Silva (FS) -- 54 tackles, 2.5 TFL
  Ray Henderson (LB) -- 52 tackles, 4.5 TFL
  Brian Toal (LB) -- 47 tackles, 2 sacks
Tommy Richardson (LB) -- 56 tackles, 5.5 TFL
  Larry Edwards (LB) -- 51 tackles, 7 TFL
  Cedric Holt (CB) -- 36 tackles, 2 INT, 6 PBU

The Kickers
William Troost -- 1/1 FG, 11/11 PAT
Connor Barth -- 3/11 FG, 16/16 PAT

The Punters
Johnny Ayers -- 41.9 yards per punt
David Wooldridge -- 41.6 yards per punt

The Kick Returners
Will Blackmon -- 21.6 yds per KO return,
7.6 yds per punt return
Brandon Tate -- 28.2 yards per KO ret,
9.2 yds per punt return

Final Analysis

Offensively, the Tarheels have been a train wreck. North Carolina ranks 101st in the country in total offense and is averaging just 17.9 points per game. Quarterback Matt Baker has completed less than 53% of his passes and has thrown 9 interceptions (along with 7 TDs). Carolina is averaging just 2.7 yards per rush but those numbers should improve by the end of the season thanks to Ronnie McGill who is averaging 4.4 yards per carry in three games since returning from a muscle tear in this chest. The Tarheel offensive line, which averages 6'4" and 298 pounds, has surrendered 19 sacks (2.7 per game). Carolina's biggest offensive weapon is 6'3" receiver Jesse Holley. Carolina's second leading receiver, Jarwarski Pollock, caught 71 passes in 2003 but that total slipped to 45 last season and 15 so far this year. Pollock has battled a knee injury this season.

North Carolina has improved dramatically on defense this season. In 2004, the Tarheels gave up an average of 447 yards per game (109th in the NCAA). This season, that total has dropped to only 343 yards per game (38th in the NCAA). North Carolina has an experienced defense (they returned nine starters) led by linebackers Tommy Richardson and Larry Edwards. The duo has combined for 107 tackles, 12.5 of those for lost yardage. Senior cornerback Cedric Holt has 2 interceptions and 6 passes broken up and has contributed to 36 tackles. North Carolina has also generated a nice pass rush. They have sacked opponents 24 times this season (3.5 per game).

North Carolina has had even more problems with their kicking game than BC has. Sophomore Connor Barth converted on 14 of his 18 field goal attempts a year ago and was regarded as one of the best kickers in the league. He's made only 3 of 11 attempts this season. Brandon Tate has an impressive 28.2 yards per kickoff return including a touchdown.

I don't think the Tarheels will be able to move the ball against the Eagles. Their passing game, running game and offensive line are all below average. The Eagle defense will surely want to atone for their performance against Virginia Tech and North Carolina provides a great opportunity to do that. It is impossible to predict how the North Carolina defense will perform on Saturday because they have been like two different teams this season. One week, Louisville dropped 69 points and nearly 500 yards on the Carolina defense. The next week, the Tarheels held Virginia to 199 yards and 5 points. Last Saturday, Carolina held Miami in check in the first half and led 16-7. In the second half, Miami steamrolled the UNC defense 27-0. If North Carolina brings their "A" game, the Eagle offense could struggle once again. A strong pass rush is the BC offense's worst nightmare and Carolina is more than capable of generating that type of pressure. If they bring their "D" game, BC should have a very leisurely day. From what I can tell, the Carolina defense has no "B" or "C" game.

Prediction: Boston College 24 North Carolina 10

North Carolina Links
Official Site
Rivals Site
CBS Sportsline
Fox Sports

North Carolina by the Numbers

North Carolina has been outscored 105-54 in the second half.

Carolina has played 12 ranked teams since the start of last season. They are 3-9 in those games.

Statistic BC NC
Offense - Run 61 103
Offense - Pass 30 81
Offense - Total 45 101
Defense - Run 7 39
Defense - Pass 43 52
Defense - Total 16 38