Boston College - Virginia Tech Matchup

The Boston College Eagles will take on the Virginia Tech Hokies on Saturday at Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, VA. The Eagles are 6-5 and fighting for their postseason lives. The Hokies are 8-2 having narrowly escaped with a 24-23 overtime victory at Temple last week. Here are the particulars:

The Quarterbacks
Quinton Porter -- 56.0% comp, 1,764 yards, 14 TD, 6 INT
  Paul Peterson -- 56.4% comp, 668 yards, 6 TD, 4 INT
Bryan Randall -- 61.7% comp, 1,208 yards, 10 TD, 8 INT
  Marcus Vick -- 55.8% comp, 464 yards, 2 TD, 5 INT

Top Rushers
Derrick Knight -- 1,402 yards, 5.5 ypc, 6 TD
  Horace Dodd -- 424 yards, 5.0 ypc, 10 TD
Kevin Jones -- 1,254 yards, 5.8 ypc, 15 TD
  Cedric Humes -- 360 yards, 6.2 ypc, 5 TD

Top Receivers
Grant Adams (WR) -- 37 catches, 579 yards, 3 TD
  Sean Ryan (TE) -- 29 catches, 372 yards, 6 TD
  Joel Hazard (WR) -- 29 catches, 369 yards, 0 TD
Ernest Wilford (WR) -- 38 catches, 595 yards, 3 TD
  Justin Hamilton (WR) -- 20 catches, 254 yards, 1 TD

Top Defenders
Josh Ott (LB) -- 105 tackles, 5 for lost yardage
Brian Flores (LB) -- 97 tackles, 6 for lost yardage
  Mattias Kiwanuka (DE) -- 67 tackles, 11 sacks, 21 QB hurries
  Will Blackmon (CB) -- 52 tackles, 3 INT, 8 passes broken up
Michael Crawford (DB) -- 90 tackles, 11 for lost yardage
  Eric Green (CB) -- 43 tackles, 2 INT, 6 PBU
  Cols Colas (DE) -- 31 tackles, 5.5 sacks

The Kickers
Sandro Sciortino -- 9/15 FG, 27/27 PAT
  Mike Fassel -- 0/0 FG, 9/10 PAT
Carter Warley -- 10/13 FG, 44/47 PAT

The Punters
Jeff Gomulinsky -- 39.5 yards per kick
Vinnie Burns -- 39.7 yards per kick

The Kick Returners
Will Blackmon -- 23.9 yds per KO return
  Nat Hasselbeck -- 11.9 yards per punt return
Mike Imoh -- 29.0 yards per KO ret, 1 TD
  DeAngelo Hall -- 14.1 yards per punt ret, 2 TD

Final Analysis
Boston College's bowl situation remains a mystery. They could win on Saturday at Virginia Tech and not be invited to a bowl game. There is also a slim chance that the Eagles could lose and still be invited to postseason play. Bowl game or not, the Eagles should be fired up for Saturday's game. A win might be enough to get BC into a bowl game for the 5th consecutive season. At the very least, a victory would be a nice ending to a disappointing season and a solid confidence builder for 2004. There is also the issue of Virginia Tech's inclusion in the Big East lawsuit against the ACC which enabled the Hokies to temporarily hijack BC's invitation to the ACC.

This game is not the mismatch that some might make it out to be. Virginia Tech's strength offensively is the running game. BC's defensive strength this season has been stopping the run. The Hokies are 11th in the country in rushing yards per game while the Eagles have jumped to 24th against the run. The Eagles have surrendered just 2.6 yards per carry over the past four games. The BC pass defense has been weak, but so has Virginia Tech's passing attack. The same is true on the other side of the ball, BC strength is running and Virginia Tech is far better against the run than the pass. Virginia Tech hasn't given up a lot of points, but this is clearly not the Hokie defensive juggernaut that we have seen in recent years. Tech remains dangerous on special teams. Tech's ability to block kicks coupled with BC's difficulties blocking on punts is a recipe for disaster. The Hokies have also run back three kicks for touchdowns this season (Mike Imoh is 5th in the nation in yards per kickoff return and DeAngelo Hall is 11th in yards per punt return).

To win on Saturday, BC will need to avoid the problems that have plagued them all season - namely penalties, dropped passes, poor blocking on punts and kick returns. The Eagles could win most of the battles, but still lose the war - as they did against Wake Forest and West Virginia - if they continue to repeat those mistakes. I expect this game to be competitive, but the special teams advantage and home crowd of 65,115 will be the difference for the Hokies.
Virginia Tech 23 Boston College 14
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Virginia Tech by the Numbers

The Hokies have outscored their opponents by 63, 57 and 64 points in the first three quarters this season. In the 4th quarter, the Hokies have scored 73 and given up 73.

Virginia Tech has blocked 101 kicks in 198 games under Frank Beamer.

Statistic BC VT
Offense - Run 31 11
Offense - Pass 58 99
Defense - Run 24 36
Defense - Pass 63 55