Saturday, October 31, 2020, Memorial Stadium, Clemson, South Carolina, noon ET
Eagles at Tigers Betting Preview: Eagles (+23.5), Tigers(-23.5)
Boston College Eagles
After a 6-7 season that ended with losses in three of their last four games, the Eagles (4-2, 3-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) have showed signs of progress under first-year coach Jeff Hafley, who was Ohio State’s defensive coordinator in 2019.
The Eagles started the year with wins over Duke and Texas State and are coming off a 48-27 win over Georgia Tech. They also knocked off Pittsburgh in overtime and lost to North Carolina and Virginia Tech.
Phil Jurkovec, a transfer from Notre Dame, has completed 62.5 percent of his 224 pass attempts and is averaging 278 yards per game through the air and is also the team’s second-leading rusher with 109 yards.
“The difference in Boston College this year is they’re throwing the ball all over the place,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. “He’s a big quarterback — a hard guy to get on the ground.
“He’s athletic, he’s crafty and he can make all the throws. He’s getting better and better, and you can tell that the team believes in him.”
Tight end Hunter Long already has 38 receptions for 455 yards and wide receiver Zay Flowers is close behind with 29 for a team-high 473 yards. Flowers and CJ Lewis have combined for seven touchdown receptions.
David Bailey is the rushing leader with 272 yards.
Clemson won’t have Heisman Trophy frontrunner Trevor Lawrence, who tested positive for COVID-19, and could be without two key defensive players. Fifth-year linebacker James Skalski is likely to miss multiple games because of a groin injury and All-ACC defensive lineman Tyler Davis questionable after sitting out last week’s game due to a lower leg injury.
But the No. 1 Tigers (6-0, 5-0 ACC) still are well-manned throughout their lineup.
“They have great players that are really well coached,” Boston College’s Hafley said. “They have the ability to run the football, run the quarterback, throw the ball down the field. They have it all. They’re good at everything.”
Tigers running back Travis Etienne is on schedule to become the ACC’s all-team leading rusher Saturday. A little extra work might be in order with Phil Jurkovec standing in for Lawrence.
Etienne enters the game needing just 43 yards to pass the 4,602 yards of the conference’s all-time leader Ted Brown of NC State. Etienne has rushed for 522 yards this season, averaging 6.3 per carry.
There is some natural concern about Clemson’s adjustment at quarterback. Lawrence has completed 70.7 percent of his passes for an average of 305.5 yards per game with 17 touchdowns against two interceptions.
BC predicts a bit more from the running back position without Lawrence.
“And I think the running back is the most underrated player in college football,” Hafley said. “The way he runs, he looks like he’s on a mission constantly.”
Eagles at Tigers Betting Pick for October 31, 2020
The Tigers’ QB change was good for a nine-point difference in the spread, down from Clemson minus 32.5 points. Clemson enters Saturday with a nine-game winning streak in the series with Boston College. The Tigers have outscored the Eagles 175-31 over the last four meetings. Dabo Swinney got his first win as Clemson’s head coach with a 27-21 decision over the Eagles in 2008. He’ll get win No. 137 (against 31 losses) this week.
Eagles at Tigers Betting Pick:
Tigers 48, Eagles 16
Eagles at Tigers Best Bet for October 31, 2020
Running back Travis Etienne rushed for 109 yards and three touchdowns and Trevor Lawrence passed for 276 yards and three scores as Clemson routed the Eagles 59-7 last year. Lawrence is out but the offense isn’t changed. Lawrence averaged 305 yards passing and Etienne 87 a game rushing to date this season.
The total was 61.5 prior to the Lawrence news on Thursday. But we’re still confident offense will rule Saturday. The Eagles have a little more offense (27.5 points and 377.7 yards a game) than their usual production.
Hurricanes at Tigers Best Bet: OVER 56.5