Simply put, this will be the best defense Clemson has seen this season since the Alabama game. Maybe including Alabama. Even without injured linebacker Brian Toal, the Eagles front seven is among the best in the country. Clemson has had a chance to get healthy - or healthier - at several key positions offensively during the week off, but are Cullen Harper, Willy Korn and C.J. Spiller ready to play at peak performance? And is the line ready for this challenge? Not really sure that two weeks was quite enough time.
ADVANTAGE - BOSTON COLLEGE
BC OFFENSE VS. CLEMSON DEFENSE
This is a category the Tigers should win...but will they? BC quarterback Chris Crane has had trouble with color-blindness of late, it would seem. If the Eagles are in dark jerseys, he's been throwing to the white jerseys. And vice versa. His interceptions have been a major concern of late. Meanwhile, Clemson's defense has been playing very well for the most part. Yet at critical moments it manages to allow the opponent a huge offensive play. Remember this game last year? Mental toughness. That's the key here. With some hesitation...
Statistically Clemson is better in more categories that BC when it comes to special teams. The concern here is the poor performance of the Tigers' punters vs. Georgia Tech. Have to hope that was just a blip on the screen. Otherwise, Clemson has a solid edge here.
ADVANTAGE - CLEMSON
While Dabo Swinney has done some remarkable work off the field with Clemson, anyone who has seen the games between these teams the past three season must know the winner of this category. Something always seems to happen, and it always seems to go in BC's favor.
ADVANTAGE - BC
Swinney has spent much of the two weeks prep time for this game on the intangibles, on strengthening his team's mental approach to the game. Don't give up the third and long. Don't blow an assignment. Make the right read. Make the right block. Play winning football. It sounds so simple, and yet it's been the Tigers' single greatest challenge this season. This wouldn't seem like the team or the venue for that to turn around. Yet Dabo has done so much to make people believe again. The final step is putting it together on the field. Is this the week it happens? Taking a leap of faith here.
THE PICK: Clemson 23, BC 21