There’s a key game in the ACC taking place Saturday, and no, we aren’t talking about the clash between Miami and Florida State.
The 4-1 Boston College Eagles will travel to Carter-Finley Stadium for an afternoon tilt with No. 23 North Carolina State. Both teams currently sit at 1-0 in the conference. Boston College easily dispatched Wake Forest, while the Wolfpack ran past Virginia last Saturday to set up this all-important ACC battle.
The game will air Saturday at 12:30 p.m. ET on NESN.
Here’s what to look for when Boston College faces No. 23 NC State.
Status Of Boston College Running Back A.J. Dillon — The sophomore back left last Saturday’s physical game against Temple after he rolled his left ankle during the third quarter. Eagles head coach Steve Addazio told reporters Wednesday that Dillon will be a game-time decision and has not been able to practice, per ESPN. Dillon is the engine that makes BC’s offense go. He currently ranks third in the country with 652 rushing yards and has seven total touchdowns this season (six rushing, one receiving).
Can BC Keep Pace In The ACC Atlantic? — The Eagles haven’t started 2-0 in ACC play since 2007. (Remember that season?) After thrashing Wake Forest in Week 3, Boston College will have the chance to do just that Saturday. A win over a talented Wolfpack team in a hostile environment would place the Eagles atop the ACC Atlantic along with No. 4 Clemson should the Tigers beat Wake Forest on Saturday.
Is N.C. State For Real? — The Wolfpack have started the season 4-0 by beating James Madison, Georgia State, Marshall and Virginia. Not exactly a murderer’s row, but Dave Doeren’s crew has done its job to this point. The Wolfpack’s first chance at a show-me game was canceled when their tilt with West Virginia had to be scrapped due to Hurricane Florence. Now, NC State gets a chance to beat a much-improved BC team and take a 5-0 record into an Oct. 20 date with No. 4 Clemson. A win could send the Wolfpack on the path to a double-digit win season and possibly a major bowl game.
New Wolfpack, Same As The Old Wolfpack — NC State has played this game before. It’s lost this game before, too. The Wolfpack haven’t won the ACC in 26 years, but the drought wouldn’t be that long if they had been able to win games like the one Saturday. In 2002, the Wolfpack arguably were the best team in the ACC, winning their first nine games before losing three straight to Georgia Tech, Maryland and Virginia. They handed eventual ACC champion Florida State its only conference loss of the season but finished fourth due to a November slide. NC State had a chance in 2010 but lost two of its final four games, including a loss to 6-7 Clemson that caused it to finish third in the conference.
Continuing Trend — Boston College is 4-4 against NC State this decade, but is 19-38 against the rest of the conference. Can the Pack buck recent history or will the Eagles continue to torment the Wolfpack?
Air Attack — The game may very well come down to whether Boston College’s pass defense can hold up against NC State quarterback Ryan Finley and the Wolfpack’s passing game. Finley leads the ACC, averaging 328.2 yards per game and has a number of talented pass-catchers, including junior Kelvin Harmon, who is averaging 101.2 yards receiving per game. The Eagles are 61st in the country, allowing 217.4 yards through the air. Something’s got to give.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images