clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Boston College vs. Virginia Tech: Complete preview & prediction

Boston College is a much-improved team in 2020.

NCAA Football: Virginia Tech at Boston College
Virginia Tech WR Tayvion Robinson against Boston College in 2019
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 23 Virginia Tech Hokies (2-1) return to Blacksburg for a prime-time meeting with the Boston College Eagles (3-1) on Saturday.

The Hokies are coming off their first loss of the season, a disappointing 56-45 defeat at North Carolina, while Boston College is coming off a thrilling 31-30 win over Pittsburgh.

This is the first year for Boston College head coach Jeff Hafley. Hafley, who coached in the NFL for several years before taking over as defensive coordinator at Ohio State in 2019, was one of the better coaching hires in the previous cycle.

Hafley is an excellent defensive coach, but his biggest change on Boston College’s team this season is the up-tempo, pass-first offense. New offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti has the Eagles as the No. 16 passing offense in college football, certainly presenting quite the challenge for Virginia Tech’s defense.

This year’s matchup between the Eagles and the Hokies feature two of the better offensive teams in college football, quite a stark contrast from some of the previous meetings between these rivals.


When, where, TV & odds

When: Saturday, October 17, 2020

Where: Lane Stadium, Blacksburg, Va.

Time: 8:00 p.m. ET

TV: ACC Network

Betting odds: Virginia Tech is 4.5-point favorites, per BetMGM


Series history

Virginia Tech leads the all-time series 18-10. The first meeting between these two schools occurred in 1993 when both were members of the Big East. Boston College and Virginia Tech have played in every season since, with the exception being 2004.

The Eagles have won the previous two meetings, including last season’s opener 35-28. Virginia Tech quarterback Ryan Willis’ turnovers, particularly in the red zone, cost the Hokies. That was the beginning of the end of Willis as the starting quarterback.

The Hokies are 10-7 against the Eagles as ACC rivals, including going 2-0 against BC in the ACC championship game.


When Boston College has the ball

If you haven’t watched Boston College in 2020, you would not recognize this offense. Sophomore quarterback Phil Jurkovec — a transfer from Notre Dame — is one of the more impressive passers in the ACC this year.

Jurkovec is completing 65 percent of his passes for 1,181 yards with eight touchdowns and just two interceptions. Jurkovec has a big arm and will certainly challenge Virginia Tech’s secondary.

The Eagles have two of the better pass-catchers in the ACC. Wide receiver Zay Flowers has caught 21 passes for 405 yards and four touchdowns. He is averaging 19 yards per reception. Flowers is a threat to beat you deep, but he is also impressive after the catch. Presumably, Jermaine Waller will see plenty of Flowers.

Containing Flowers will be the key for Virginia Tech’s defense.

Boston College’s other weapon is tight end Hunter Long. He has 31 receptions for 363 yards and two touchdowns in 2020. He leads the ACC in receptions and is tied for No. 3 in the country.

How will Virginia Tech defend Long?

The Hokies were down 23, 21 and 15 players, respectively, in the first three weeks. While that number is trending in the right direction, you can’t predict what will happen with the roster until Saturday afternoon. The secondary has been hit the hardest over the last two weeks and could use some good news this weekend with the return of Divine Deablo and others.

Boston College literally has no running game. If the Hokies allow BC’s rushing attack to get going, then you should have major concerns regarding this defense.


When Virginia Tech has the ball

Hendon Hooker is back as the starting quarterback for the Hokies. That’s tremendous news for an offense that is already among the nation’s best. Hooker came in for good last week in the third quarter and had the Hokies moving. Hooker has the ability to make the big play in the passing game, which makes this group even more potent.

Running back Khalil Herbert had another big game last week. Through three games, Herbert has now rushed for 449 yards and five touchdowns, on just 43 attempts. He is ranked No. 5 in college football in rushing, while Virginia Tech is No. 3 as a team, averaging 299 yards rushing per game.

Virginia Tech’s offensive line is among the best in college football.

Boston College ranks No. 31 against the run, allowing 135 rushing yards per game.

Tight end James Mitchell is the opposite of Long. While he is a reliable receiver in the intermediate passing game, Mitchell is also capable of stretching the field. He went over 100 yards receiving and scored a rushing touchdown last week. Mitchell is a blossoming star.

The Hokies finally got Tre Turner going last week. He is due for a big game and this could be the day.

Overall, Hafley has his defense ranked No. 29 in total defense.


Prediction

The Hokies are double-digit favorites and I am not sure how comfortable I am with those numbers. This Boston College team is different. They are well-coached and have good players on both sides of the ball, led by a good quarterback and explosive wide receiver.

Regardless of whether the Hokies get the majority of their secondary back or not this weekend, they will have issues with Flowers. His speed will be a problem. If Deablo and Keonta Jenkins are both back at safety, I feel much better about Tech’s ability to limit the big play.

Boston College’s defense did a solid job against North Carolina two weeks ago. While I do not see the Hokies rushing for over 300 yards this week, I do believe they find room to run and Herbert has another solid performance.

This game will be determined by Hooker’s right arm. He makes several big plays in the passing game and leads the Hokies to a win in Blacksburg.

Virginia Tech 34, Boston College 27