Despite BC's setbacks, FSU must be prepared

There is nothing sexy about the Boston College Eagles. They just win. They're disciplined, blue-collar, and as tough as the Northeast winter. Since joining the ACC in 2005, they have won at least eight games every year—including 11 one season and 10 another-- and made two appearances in the ACC Championship Game, which is one more than FSU made during the same span.

In fact, when you compare the garnet and gold of FSU with the maroon and gold of Boston College from 2005-2009, the cumulative records are not even close: The Eagles went 47-19 while the Seminoles stumbled to 38-27. In head-to-head competition the Eagles get the nod too, winning three of the five meetings with FSU.

So why is it that as FSU gets ready to play Boston College again, Seminole nation is greeting the game with about as much excitement as a dentist appointment?

For starters, the upcoming Thursday night game (Oct. 28) with North Carolina State figures to be as high-scoring as an ACC basketball battle, and the winner will have the inside track on the ACC's Atlantic Division title.

Secondly, go back to the original point made in this story— there is nothing sexy about Boston College. They win by playing fundamentally sound football, by doing the little things, and by being very good at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. Impressively, there are 20 former BC players currently in the NFL, but once you get past Matt Ryan the list includes a plethora of lineman. That's not very sexy, but it goes hand in hand with dominating the line of scrimmage.

And then there's this fact: for the first time in recent memory, Boston College is not winning this year. The Eagles are 2-3 on the season, with wins over Weber State and Kent State. They have lost three in a row for the first time since 1998, and their eleven year bowl streak is in serious jeopardy of coming to an end this season.

The biggest problem for Boston College has been quarterback play. Last year's starter Dave Shinskie has struggled, and freshman Chase Rettig has suffered injury and growing pains as he cuts his teeth at the college level. The quarterback issues have slowed down the BC running game, as Eagle opponents load up the box on veteran Montel Harris, who is the active leading rusher in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Despite his struggles this season, Harris is on pace to become the all-time leading rusher in Boston College history. Plus, he has terrorized the Seminoles for two straight seasons by rushing for well over 100 yards in each game against FSU. Rest assured that Mark Stoops' troops— and that stout FSU run defense- will be ready for him.

Defensively, Boston College is the same as usual. They are not the most athletic team FSU will face, but they are well-coached and do not miss assignments. FSU will have to earn what it gets against a BC squad that is led by sophomore linebacker Luke Kuechly, who is first in the nation in tackles per game at just over 14.

Helping Kuechly and back on the field this year is Mark Herzlich, the 2008 ACC defensive player of the year-- and an inspirational story as a cancer survivor. The hallmark of this defense is its run-stopping ability, and so this game figures to come down to strength against strength: FSU's No. 16 ranked rushing offense, which averages over 220 yards per game on the ground, against Boston College's No. 5 ranked rush defense, which allows only 80.

The biggest statistic coming into this Saturday's showdown, though, is this one: 0-2. That is FSU's record at home against Boston College since the Eagles joined the ACC. FSU lost to the boys from Boston by a score of 24-19 in 2006 and the 'Noles were physically dominated 27-17 in 2008. The loss in '08 prevented FSU from advancing to the ACC Championship game and it is a sore point for the players on this squad who were around two years ago.

Rest assured that this is what Jimbo Fisher and his coaching staff will be using to fuel the motivational fire for a Florida State team that could be feeling pretty good about itself after mauling Miami last week. Fisher will be preaching what he always preaches— that this week's game is the national championship game, that players must be focused and disciplined, that there is no looking ahead.

And though it sounds strange to say, the Boston College game is more important for FSU than the Miami game because the Eagles are in FSU's ACC Atlantic Division. A loss, or a win, counts more than the Miami game because of divisional standings and tie-breaking procedures.

Given all of that, and what should be a renewed atmosphere at Doak Campbell Stadium in light of Seminole success, I fully expect FSU to take care of business this weekend and improve to 6-1, 4-0 in the ACC.

I'll see you from the sidelines on Primetime Noles!


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