The Final Breakdown

Saturday marks the third annual meeting for the right to the O'Rourke-McFadden Trophy.

WHAT: Clemson at Boston College
WHERE: Alumni Stadium (44,500) - Chestnut Hill, Mass.
WHEN: Saturday, Oct. 30 (12:10 p.m. EST)
SPREAD: Clemson -7
TV: Raycom

The trophy features a leather helmet replica of those used by Charlie O'Rourke of Boston College and Banks McFadden of Clemson when they played in the 1940 Cotton Bowl—the school's first meeting.

Along with the trophy presentation, the Boston College Gridiron Club will present a replica leather helmet to the MVP of the winning school.

C.J. Spiller and Richard Jackson won the awards in 2008 and 2009, respectively.

This season, Clemson is 4-3 (2-2 in ACC) while Boston College is 2-5 (0-4 in ACC).

Clemson holds a 9-8-2 advantage all-time, but Boston College won 5 of 6 contests from 1960-2007.

Frank Spaziani is 10-10 in his second season as the Eagles' head coach, but has dropped five-straight games—the first time in school history since 1998.

Dabo Swinney is 17-11 in his second full-season as the Tigers' head coach. Clemson's won back-to-back games after dropping three in a row.

Here's a look at what to expect Saturday when these two ACC rivals clash at Alumni Stadium:

BOSTON COLLEGE RUNNING GAME VS. CLEMSON FRONT
Montel Harris has accounted for the vast majority of Boston College's rushing offense this season. The ACC's top rusher has picked up 649 yards this season for an average of 99 per game—all for the conference's worst run offense.


Boston College RB Montel Harris leads the ACC in rushing, ranking just above Clemson's Andre Ellington. (Getty Images)
He also has all three of the team's rushing touchdowns.

Harris became the fourth running back in Boston College history to eclipse 3,000 yards for a career. In fact, he's the first player in school history to break the milestone prior to his senior season

A big part of his success comes in part to following the paths cleared by left tackle Anthony Castonzo and right guard Thomas Claiborne, both of whom were selected to the preseason All-ACC team.

Clemson's front, anchored by Da'Quan Bowers, the nation's leader in tackles for loss, is coming off a solid showing against Georgia Tech's triple-option. Thanks to a very active afternoon by the entire line, the Tigers held the Yellow Jackets almost 100 yards below their season average.

Once again, a pro-style offense will see Clemson with all three linebackers on the field for a significant number of snaps. Brandon Maye is expected to return to the weak-side position after sitting out last weekend's game.

Boston College had just over 50 yards of total offense in last season's game. Although we don't expect another performance that's anywhere close to 50 yards, we do like Clemson's chances of containing Harris.

ADVANTAGE:

CLEMSON PASSING GAME VS. BOSTON COLLEGE SECONDARY, PASS RUSH
For any kind of success on offense, it's important for Clemson to establish the passing game, because of Boston College's penchant for stopping the run. This has all the makings of a pass to setup the run kind of game plan.

Kyle Parker will have the luxury of facing an Eagle secondary that had already been relatively ineffective before a pair of injuries popped up in last weekend's loss to Maryland.


Given B.C.'s success against the run, chances are Kyle Parker and companry will have to open things up through the air Saturday. (Roy Philpott)
Starting free safety Wes Davis, Boston College's third leading tackler, injured his neck, and starting cornerback DeLeon Gause banged up his knee. Davis is out, but Gause is still listed as the starter on the depth chart. However, there's cartilage damage in the knee.

The injuries to Davis and Gause weren't the only hit from last week. Defensive end Alex Albright, the team's leader with 4½ sacks, is done for the season with a broken fibula.

Albright's departure makes Brad Newman the team's active leader in sacks (three). But those have been tough to come by for Clemson opponents. The Tigers have given up an average of less than one per game this season, ranking first in the ACC.

Since he'll have time, like he did last week against Boston College, Parker should be able to look down field to his two go-to wide receivers. Look for DeAndre Hopkins and Jaron Brown to have continued success against the patchwork secondary.

With the loss of Albright, not to mention Davis, and the improving health of Hopkins as he continues to through a stellar freshman campaign, advantage Clemson.

ADVANTAGE:

CLEMSON RUNNING GAME VS. BOSTON COLLEGE FRONT
Andre Ellington continues to prove that he's a more than serviceable replacement for C.J. Spiller.

Still, Ellington, the ACC's leading scorer with over 10 points a game, faces his biggest challenge of the season in Chestnut Hill this weekend.


Ellington, the ACC's leading scorer with over 10 points a game, faces his biggest challenge of the season in Chestnut Hill this weekend. (Roy Philpott)
Boston College's defense is led by the linebacking duo of Mark Herzlich and Luke Kuechly. Kuechly filled in at middle linebacker last season when Herzlich was out because of Ewing's sarcoma. Now that Herzlich is back, he's playing on the strong-side.

Kuechly leads the team with 97 tackles. Weak-side linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis, who's second on the team in tackles, has 43.

A large part of Kuechly's success is attributed to defensive tackle Damik Scafe, the senior who's able to occupy two blockers at once. Many times, Kuechly, Herzlich and Pierre-Louis go unscathed in pursuit of a tackle.

Boston College defenses have allowed only eight 100-yard rushers since 2005. That ties Ohio State for the fewest over that period of time.

It's going to be a grind for Clemson. Boston College blitzes to stop the run, similar to Maryland, which gave the Tigers' ground game some trouble.

Despite the injuries, B.C.'s run defense is legitimate, ranking fourth in the country. Simply put, it could be difficult for the Tigers to establish the run, without going downfield in the passing game first.

ADVANTAGE:

BOSTON COLLEGE PASSING GAME VS. CLEMSON SECONDARY, PASS RUSH
The quarterback position in Chestnut Hill has been a revolving door all season. Dave Shinskie, Mike Marscovetra and Chase Rettig have combined to complete 112 of 221 passes of 1,343 yards, nine touchdowns and 12 interceptions.


Freshman quarterback Chase Rettig will get the start Saturday against the Tigers. (Getty Images)
Rettig, who's been named the starter for Saturday, has the lowest rating of the three (96.3). But he's the only one of the three that's not thrown more interceptions than touchdowns.

Part of the woes are attributed to the injury to Boston College's best wide receiver, Colin Larmond, who was lost before the start of the season with a knee injury.

The top three wide receivers are in their first seasons of play at Boston College. True freshman Bobby Swigert is the Eagles' leading receiver with 21 receptions for 347 yards and three touchdowns.

Harris is a threat as a receiver, but most of his catches come on the perimeter in the screen game.

The youthful receivers will match up with a secondary that's far more experienced. All-American safety DeAndre McDaniel grabbed his third interception of the season last weekend.

Clemson's secondary could benefit from a pass rush that's sure to put a lot of pressure on the inexperienced Rettig. That pressure could result in errant throws and more interceptions for the Tigers.

Just when you think Bowers won't get a sack, he does. Georgia Tech, the run-happy team that rarely gives up a sack, did allow Bowers to sack Joshua Nesbitt.

Bowers, the nation's leader in sacks, will command plenty of attention from Boston College this weekend. Double-teams, chips and everything else could open things up for someone else, maybe Andre Branch, a blitzing linebacker or safety.

ADVANTAGE:

CLEMSON SPECIAL TEAMS VS. BOSTON COLLEGE SPECIAL TEAMS
Boston College poses nearly no kind of a threat in the return game. The Eagles are among the 20 worst teams in the country in both kick and punt return categories.


Special teams could play a difference in what may be a low scoring game. One solid punt return from Marcus Gilchrist or DeAndre Hopkins could help flip the field in Clemson's favor. (Roy Philpott)
Ryan Quigley is among the nation's best, averaging 42.9 yards per punt for Boston College. As a team, the Eagles are 17th in the nation with a net punting average of 39.25.

Clemson punter Dawson Zimmerman is slightly better than Quigley, averaging 43.8 yards per punt.

Boston College covers kicks pretty well, too, averaging 20.3 yards per return.

Kicker Nate Freese has been pretty solid. He's 12 of 14 on field goals, with misses from 47 and 36 yards. Clemson kicker Chandler Catanzaro is 6 of 9.

Special teams could play a difference in what may be a low scoring game. One solid punt return from Marcus Gilchrist or DeAndre Hopkins could help flip the field in Clemson's favor.

ADVANTAGE:

PREDICTION: Clemson 20 Boston College 12


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