BYU vs. Boston College: The Breakdown

BYU is riding high off of its trouncing of Tulsa, but Boston College may be even higher after it upset then-16th ranked Clemson. When Saturday's game is finished, one of the two teams will have to come back down to earth. The G-man thinks he knows which team will fall, and he gives a position-by-position analysis to support his choice.

Quarterbacks:

Boston College: Boston College will start junior Matt Ryan who is a classic drop-back quarterback at 6-foot-5. Ryan is off to a great start this season going 54 out of 86 for 535 yards and 4 touchdowns to go with zero interceptions in his first two games. He grades out at a 130.4 quarterback rating. Ryan is experienced and poses a challenging task for the Cougar defense.

BYU: John Beck meanwhile has very similar stats over his first two games throwing for 529 yards, 4 touchdowns and, like Ryan, no interceptions. Beck completed 44 of 58 passes for a 75% completion rate. He has a 175.2 quarterback rating.

Conclusion: Ryan is a very good quarterback who can be prolific. He does not make many mistakes during a game. The same can be said for Beck as both are very similar in regards to experience and the numbers they put up. Beck's better completion percentage and quarterback rating gives him the nod.

Edge: BYU

Running Backs:

Boston College: The Eagles will start L.V. Whitworth who is a 5-11, 216 junior running back. Whitworth has gained 141 yards over the first two games for a 4.1 yards per carry average. Whitworth will rotate frequently with Andre Callender who has run for 91 yards for a 3.5 per carry average.

BYU: BYU's running backs exploded in their last game against Tulsa. Curtis Brown and Fui Vakapuna look to get at least 30 touches between them per game from here on out. They are without question the strength of the Cougar offense this year.

Conclusion: While Boston College's running backs are solid, BYU backs have been spectacular at times. Getting it done against a BCS team defensive front will be the next test for the Cougar running game.

Edge: BYU

Wide Receivers:

Boston College: The Eagle's receivers have been productive over their first two games. Kevin Challenger and Tony Gonzalez, who are 5-foot-9 and 5-foot-10 respectively, will be the starters. Challenger has 12 receptions this year while Gonzalez has 9 over the first two games.

BYU: BYU uses a four man rotation at receiver. None of the four have more than four receptions on the year.

Conclusion: Both teams have solid units although the receivers for Boston College have been more of a part of what the Eagles do offensively.

Edge: Boston College

Tight Ends:

Boston College: Boston College will start Ryan Thompson who is 6-4, 259 and has one catch over his first two games. The Eagles will also play Ryan Purvis who has four catches for 74 yards and a touchdown on the season.

BYU: The Cougars' tight ends were not an option last week as Tulsa doubled Harline and Coats all game. Whether this will be blueprint for Boston College remains to be seen. Harline still has 7 catches for 83 yards and Coats has 3 for 35 and a touchdown.

Conclusion: Boston College has completed five passes to their tight ends over the first two game, which suggests that the Eagle passing attack is focused on other positions. BYU's tight ends are frequent targets for Beck so they know how to get the job done.

Edge: BYU

Offensive Line:

Boston College: Boston College will start a physical group that has allowed only one sack over their first two games. Three juniors and two seniors who all weigh around 300 pounds each comprise the Eagle O-line. They are the foundation of Boston College's smash-mouth offensive system.

BYU: The Cougar front men mounted a very physical attack themselves last week. They are big and they can be physical in the trenches. The also have a fair amount of experience among them.

Conclusion: BYU's offensive front allowed 4 sacks over two games while Boston College has allowed just one while throwing the ball more. While I like the talent and prospects of the Cougar offensive line, they have to show effectiveness against a BCS defensive front before I give them the edge over a quality BCS unit.

Edge: Boston College

Defensive Line:

Boston College: The Eagles start two mammoth tackles in their 4-3 system. Ron Brace and B.J. Raji weigh in at 335 and 340 pounds respectively. Raji did not start last game due because he got in a fight in BC's season opener and Brace is questionable with an injury. Nick Larkin will be Boston College's rush end and redshirt freshman Austin Giles will start at the other D-end spot.

BYU: BYU's defensive front as impressed over two games. They are mostly young all across, but they have more than held their own during the first two games.

Conclusion: Both defensive lines have proved stout for the first two games. The Tulsa game showed much more in regards to how good BYU's line is as they defended a complicated Tulsa offensive unit effectively. The Eagles gave up nearly 150 yards rushing to Clemson last week while no team this season has broken 100 yards against BYU. Clemson's running attack is more potent than that of Arizona or Tulsa, but I like BYU's defensive front much more having performed well against two very different offensive systems.

Edge: BYU

Linebackers:

Boston College: Boston College has three experienced linebackers starting. They are led by Brian Toal who is on the Bednarik and Butkus award lists. Toal is questionable for tomorrow's game due to injury, however.

BYU: BYU's linebacking unit is the strength of their defense and have put together two very impressive performances so far this year.

Conclusion: The Eagle linebackers are experienced and capable although they take a big hit without Toal who is day-to-day.

Edge: BYU

Defensive Backs:

Boston College: The Eagles have given up just under 600 yards passing in their first two games. They're led by free safety Jamie Silva who was listed on most preseason All-ACC teams.

BYU: BYU's defensive backs have seen dramatic improvement so far, but will be tested against a very good Boston College passing attack.

Conclusion: This will be a great test for BYU's secondary because Ryan is more capable than either quarterback they faced during the first two games. Boston College's defensive backs have given up yards to good offenses and have shown the propensity to give up yards through the air.

Edge: BYU

Five Predictions

1. BYU will run for over 100 yards for the second week in a row

Boston College will mount greater resistance than Tulsa a week ago, but BYU's running is in a groove after last week and the Eagles are giving up 135 yards rushing a game so far this season. The Cougars will go to Brown and Vakapuna often and the two backs will combine for well over 100 yards.

2. Special Teams will play a huge factor

Boston College won last week due to their superior special teams play. While BYU's special teams units have shown notable improvement they still managed to fumble snaps and allow blocked punts. If BYU cannot match BC's special teams play then it will cost them the game.

3. Boston College will be prolific through the air

BYU's defensive backs have seen remarkable improvement in the first two games, but Boston College will bring a more potent passing attack than they have seen so far. The Eagles strength is passing their outside receivers. Look for Justin Robinson and Ben Criddle to be tested more than they have been thus far. They will give up yards, but not allowing yards after the catch will be key.

4. BYU will get off to a slow start

The time change and early start will contribute to a sluggish start from the Cougars. If BYU gets off to a good start and takes an early lead, then they will have a very good chance in winning the game.

5. BYU will have less than 10 penalties

Having MWC officials do the game will help in this regard. With 44,000 seats, Boston College's home field will not be loud enough to affect the Cougar O-line the way the Arizona crowd did. While BYU may not be penalized less than BC, they will cut down on their own penalties.

Top Three

BYU's top three offensive performers other than Beck will be Fui Vakapuna, Daniel Coats and Zac Collie

Final Score: Boston College 27, BYU 24

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