The Final Breakdown

CLEMSON - Here's one last detailed look at No. 3 Clemson's annual grudge match with Boston College.

WHAT: No. 3 Clemson vs. Boston College
WHERE: Memorial Stadium - Clemson, S.C.
WHEN: Saturday, Oct. 12 (3:36 p.m.)
SPREAD: Clemson by 24.5

Boston College running back Andre Williams leads the nation in rushing yards per game [153.6] and is third in total yards [768]. He's also scored seven touchdowns, five of which were against Army.

Andre Williams leads the country in rushing at over 153 yards per game. (Roy Philpott)
Williams piled up a ton of yards last weekend against the Black Knights -- 263, to be exact. The rest of his performances are as follows: Villanova [114 yards] and Wake Forest [204]. Versus Southern Cal, he 38 yards on 17 carries. Two weeks later against Florida State, Williams had 28 carries for 149 yards.

Outside of Williams, the Eagles haven't had much of a running game. That's why they're tied for seventh in the ACC with 188 yards per game. Boston College has given up just eight sacks in five games, so it's not like those are taking a significant chunk out of the team's rushing total.

Backup running back Myles Willis is second on the team with 85 yards and third with 15 carries, but he does average 5.7 yards per rush.

Look for Boston College to chew clock with the run in an effort to keep Clemson's high-powered, hurry-up, no-huddle offense off the field. The Eagles have run 307 plays from scrimmage this season. Only four other teams in the country that have played five games have run fewer.

Against the run, Clemson is 80th in the country, giving up an average of 171.2 yards per game.

For the most part, the Clemson defense has been solid in that department. Georgia rushed for 222 yards, S.C. State had 86, N.C. State had 165, Wake Forest had 60 and Syracuse had 323.

Last weekend's game skews the numbers. A little closer look at the Orange's total from a revels something that Tiger fans shouldn't worry about, at least for the time being. By halftime, Syracuse had rushed 18 times for 114 yards and Clemson led, 35-7. Despite the deficit, Syracuse rushed 30 times in the second half for 209 yards.

As a team, Clemson is tied for first in the country with 50 tackles for loss, 19 of which are sacks. Nonetheless, it's an impressive figure and a sign that the Tigers are giving opposing offense problems when it comes to running the football.

And Stephone Anthony, Spencer Shuey and Grady Jarrett remain first, second and third on the Tigers' tackle list. It's another sign of a strong presence against the run.

If Boston College is going to pull off an upset, it starts right here. They'll need to control the ball and keep the Clemson offense off the field to better their chances. And the best way to do that is by running the football.

If the Clemson defense struggles to get off the field, a win may not be so easy to come by on Saturday.

However, if Clemson races out to an early like it has the last two weeks, Boston College might have to throw more and abandon the run by the second half.

It's a tight matchup, definitely the closest of the week. There will be some give and take on both ends and could be too close to call.


Boston College hangs its hat on the running game. The Eagles are 116th in the country with 109 passing attempts. But when they do throw it, it's done pretty efficiently. The 154.63 rating is 26th in the country.

Chase Rettig beat Clemson in 2010 in Chestnut Hill. (Roy Philpott)
Chase Rettig has completed 70 of 109 passes for 891 yards with nine touchdowns and three interceptions.

Alex Amidon is, by far, his favorite target. He has 32 catches for 426 yards and two touchdowns. He's third in the ACC with 6.4 catches per game and seventh with 85.2 yards receiving per game.

And he did take the Clemson secondary to school last season in Chestnut Hill.

Backup fullback Bobby Wolford is tied for second on the team with seven catches and second with 88 yards. Wide receivers David Dudeck and Spiffy Evans have seven and six catches, respectively. Tight end C.J. Parsons has caught two touchdown passes.

Willis has caught four passes, including one that went for a 52-yard score against Florida State. At times, Clemson has been hit up by opposing offenses on passes out of the backfield, so keep an eye out for Willis in the passing game. And, Williams, too, even though he doesn't have a catch this season.

The Clemson secondary continues to evolve into a respectable group. Now, they're fourth in the ACC in pass defense, giving up an average of 185.4 yards per game. Their pass efficiency defense rating of 102.6 is also fourth in the conference.

The Tigers have nine interceptions and have allowed three touchdown passes. Among ACC teams, only Virginia Tech has more interceptions this season.

Darius Robinson has three of those interceptions. Bashaud Breeland has two and Jayron Kearse has one. Those guys combined for four picks last week against Syracuse -- Robinson had two.

Robinson and Breeland continue to work as the starters at cornerback. Kearse will start at free safety for Travis Blanks, who suffered a knee injury against Syracuse.

As noted above, Clemson is one of the best teams in the country when it comes to sacking the quarterback. Vic Beasley has a lot to do with that. He leads the country with 8 sacks. Shaq Lawson is second on the team with two sacks. Nine others have one.

While the lack of passing attempts helps, Boston College has done a good job of protecting Rettig. The Eagles have given up eight sacks this season, which is tied for fifth fewest in the ACC.

Chances are Clemson will have a lead for most of the afternoon, so Boston College may be forced to throw the ball more than normal. That alone should be enough to give Clemson the edge.

Plus, the more chances Beasley has to get after the quarterback, the worse for the opponent.


Fortunately for Boston College, Clemson hasn't set the world on fire with its run game as the Tigers are 10th in the ACC with 174.6 yards per contest.

Roderick McDowell has yet to score a touchdown in 2013. Will it change this weekend? (Getty Images)
Roderick McDowell still leads the way with 294 yards on the ground, but still hasn't reached pay dirt. Tajh Boyd is second with 154 yards and first with four touchdowns whileZac Brooks is third with 138 yards and two scores.

The Clemson ground game is due for a break-out kind of performance. And, what better game to do it than before the biggest conference date on the schedule?

We'll go out on a limb and say McDowell is not only going to have his second 100-yard rushing performance of the season, but he'll also score his first touchdown.

Boston College is last in the ACC against the run. A game against a service academy team will inflate the numbers. However, the Eagles have had issues against the run.

Villanova rushed for 197 yards on 36 carries. Wake Forest had 55 yards. Southern Cal rushed 43 times for 257 yards. Florida State racked up 159 yards on 36 carries. And, of course, Army had 326 yards on 65 carries.

The Eagles' three starting linebackers are first, second and third on the team in tackles -- Kevin Pierre-Louis, Steele Divitto and Steven Daniels, respectively. The tackles are distributed where defensive coordinators want them to go.

If Villanova can put up almost 200 yards against Boston College and one-dimensional Southern Cal can roll up over 250, there's no reason Clemson shouldn't have a solid afternoon on the ground. The Tigers get the nod here.


If you thought the Syracuse secondary look overwhelmed by Clemson's passing game, then wait until Saturday. Boyd is in for another big afternoon.

Tajh Boyd has completed 93-of-141 passes for 1,441 yards, 14 touchdowns and two interceptions this season. (Roy Philpott)
Boston College is last in the ACC in pass efficiency defense with a rating of 160. The Eagles are tied for seventh in the conference in pass defense, giving up an average of 209.8 yards per game.

Aside from Villanova and Army, opponents have faired pretty well against Boston College.

Wake Forest's Tanner Price completed 18 of 30 passes for 191 yards with a touchdown and an interception. For Southern Cal, Cody Kessler connected on 15 of 17 throws for 237 yards and two touchdowns. Jamies Winston hit on 17 of 27 passes for 325 yards with four touchdowns and an interception.

Boyd should have a performance similar to the one he did on against Syracuse last Saturday in the Carrier Dome.

The Boston College secondary has five interceptions this season, two of which were from cornerback Bryce Jones.

They have a formidable pass rush, too. Defensive end Kasim Edebali is first with 4.5. The only other starter with more than one is Kaleb Ramsey, the end opposite Edebali.

While Clemson has had some issues keeping Boyd on his feet, it shouldn't play that much of factor in determining the winner of this matchup, which, by the way, is Clemson.


Chandler Catanzaro remains perfect this season and has now connected on 30 of his last 31 field goal attempts. (Roy Philpott)
Chandler Catanzaro is Clemson's all-time leading scorer. Nate Freese isn't too shabby either.

Both kickers are solid. Both are perfect this season. Catanzaro had made all four field goals and all 26 extra-point attempts. Frees is 6-of-6 on field goals and 17-of-17 on extra-points. Each kicker's longest make this year is 49 yards.

Both punters are solid. Bradley Pinion punts for Clemson, averaging 41.3 yards per punt. Freese is averaging 42.2 yards per punt.

Boston College has a strong return game, both kicks and punts. Evans has returned seven punts for 112 yards. Willis has 283 kickoff yards on nine returns.

For Clemson, the kickoff return game is still struggling. The Tigers have returned eight for 152 yards. Adam Humphries has turned some heads as a punt returner, totaling 68 yards on eight returns.

We'll give the special teams nod to Clemson since it's a home game for the Tigers.


PREDICTION: Clemson 55 Boston College 10 Top Stories