Boston College Eagles
Head Coach: Steve Addazio
2015 Record: 3-9
2015 Bowl: N/A
2016 Returning Starters: 6 Offense, 8 Defense
Odds to win 2017 Championship Game: +200000
Odds to win 2016 ACC Championship: +8000
Regular Season over/under: over 6.5 (+130), under 6.5 (-160)
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Boston College struggled badly to put points up last year: The Eagles averaged just 17.2 points per game, ranking No. 120 in the nation, while managing just 275.6 yards per game, which also ranked them near the bottom at No. 125.
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Adding Kentucky graduate transfer Patrick Towles could help turn that around. He threw for 2,148 yards in 10 games last season with Kentucky, recording nine TDs and 14 INTs. He will clearly have to improve his accuracy, but OC Scot Loeffler believes he can make Towles into an effective option this season. If he struggles, expect Darius Wade to step in.
In the backfield the Eagles will turn to sophomore RB Jon Hillman. He rushed for 860 yards and 13 TDs in his freshman season in 2014, but he played just four games last season due to a leg injury. He is a strong, physical back, capable of moving the ball and he should ignite this offense a lot after it struggled to get much going on the ground last year when it averaged just 164.4 yards per game.
TE Tommy Sweeney also should factor large in the offense. He managed only five receptions last season, but he will be featured more heavily this year and along with WR Thadd Smith, Towles or Wade will at least have a couple strong options to pass the ball to.
Senior LB Matt Milano led the Eagles with 17.5 tackles last year, 6.5 sacks and one fumble recovery. He heads what was already an elite defense that promises to be better still in 2016. Last year the Eagles allowed just 15.3 points per game, ranking No. 4 in the nation. Boston College also gave up just 254.3 yards per game, which ranked No. 1 in the nation. Scoring is not easy against Boston College, to say the least.
The DL returns plenty of talent, too. Junior Harold Landry had 4.5 sacks and 60 tackles last season and will be a key fixture, helping offset the loss of Connor Wujciak (graduation). Truman Gutapfel will be crucial towards stopping the run.
Sophomore Zach Allen is a lightning quick DE who should be in for a big season, and the backfield also has some good options with S John Johnson and CB Isaac Yiadom both capable of stopping elite WRs. This defense should be the toast of the ACC, and if the offensive improvement comes with it the Eagles should surprise some teams this season.
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Colton Lichtenberg hit two 43-yard field goals in the final two games last season against Notre Dame and Syracuse, and he will be the kicker again this season. Michael Walker will be the kick returner. Walker finished No. 2 in the ACC last season with a 28.8 yard per return average.
Boston College opens the season Sept. 3 against Georgia Tech in Dublin, Ireland. Following that it will return to the States to face UMass and Virginia Tech in Weeks 2 and 3. Conference play begins Oct. 7 against Clemson at home, and the Eagles face Florida State on Nov. 11 in Tallahassee.
Boston College’s defense gives a lot of purists a reason to watch them. They function so well on that end of the ball. Putting some offense with it should help turn around last season’s 3-win campaign, and it is pretty plausible that figure doubles.
Prediction: 6 wins
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