Game Preview: UCF at Boston College

UCF and Boston College will duke it out on Saturday at Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill, Mass. This will be the first ever meeting between the two schools, as both enter the game with a chip on their collective shoulders.

University of Central Florida Knights at Boston College Eagles
Saturday, September 20th, 2008, 1:00 p.m.
Alumni Stadium, Chestnut Hill, MA

2008 records: UCF- 1-1, BC- 1-1

Series history: First meeting

BC Offense

Boston College has struggled to replace Matt Ryan, one of the most prolific quarterbacks in school history, and that's saying a lot. Trying to fill the big shoes Ryan left is senior Chris Crane, a big armed QB with good pocket presence. Crane hasn't put up stellar number so far this season, completing just 56% of his passes while also throwing one touchdown to two interceptions. Still, Crane has showed that he can manage a game to perfection if given adequate time and he also has respectable mobility.

Like UCF, Boston College is trying to find a replacement at running back as well, and the Eagles are also using a by committee approach. Jeff Smith and Josh Haden are the team's best rushers. Smith, a former cornerback, missed all of last season, but the junior came on strong in his first game back against Kent St. as he took an option run 42 yards for a touchdown. Haden, a true freshman, was a four-star recruit who chose BC over Florida, Ohio State, Michigan, Tennessee and others. Haden has tremendous speed and quickness, but doesn't have the size yet to move a pile.

Crane fortunately has a very experienced group of pass catchers to get the ball to. Senior Brandon Robinson and juniors Rich Gunnell and Clarence Megwa are all solid players who have already made an impact this season. Justin Jarvis, another junior, is a big receiver (6'5") who is a threat in the red-zone, but the only receiving TD this season has come from Ifeanyi Momah. Ryan Purvis leads the team in receptions and was an All-ACC tight end last season.

The offensive line is big, with all starters but one tipping the scale at over 300 lbs. However, there is just one senior starter and that is guard Cliff Ramsey. The unit can pave way for its running backs, but has struggled some with pass blocking.

Best offensive matchup for BC:  BC's line vs. UCF's line- UCF has a very solid line, especially when it comes to stopping the run, but BC has a very big front five and once they get your hands on you, it's tough to do much else. If Torrell Troup and Travis Timmons can hold up against the run through the game, UCF should be fine.

Best defensive matchup for UCF: UCF's secondary vs. Crane- the Knights have a stellar secondary and will make life very difficult for Crane. If the senior quarterback is pressured somewhat consistently, look for UCF's back four to come up with a pick or two.

BC Defense

Boston College has a terrific front seven, and it all starts in the middle with Ron Brace and B.J. Raji. The two tackles weigh more than 320 lbs, and are very stout against the run. The 650 lb. tandem clogs the middle and allows the team's ends and linebackers to run around and make plays.

Junior's Mark Herzlich and Mike McLaughlin, and senior Brian Toal are all returning starters for the Eagles and for a very dangerous linebacking unit. They helped keep Georgia Tech to just 162 yards two weeks ago and are very fundamentally sound as a group. Toal has 14 tackles and a sack already this season and McLaughlin already has 21 stops.

In just two games this season, BC has forced six turnovers and a lot of that has been because of the Eagles solid coverage, although the team really hasn't faced a strong passing attack yet. Kevin Akins and DeLeon Gause are the corners. Akins is a converted linebacker and thus is a very physical corner, while Guase is a speedy back from Miami. Wes Davis and Paul Anderson line up at safety, and both are versatile players who are solid against the run and pass.

Best defensive matchup for BC:  BC's front seven vs. UCF's running backs. The Knights have struggled to establish a solid running game, and it will be difficult to get things going against the huge tackles that the Eagles field. Even if UCF's front five can get good push up front, the running backs will have to make the right cuts against an experienced group of line backers.

Best offensive matchup for UCF:  Michael Greco vs. BC's defense. Carrying momentum from last game's strong finish versus USF and going against an untested secondary, Greco will have the chance to do some damage. If his teammates continue to improve around him, look for Greco to have a nice game throwing the ball and running with it.

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