Despite College GameDay buzz, #2 Clemson handles #17 Boston College
By Zack Sluka
At 5 a.m. Saturday morning, hundreds of Boston College students were lined up in the academic quad and even down the “Million Dollar” stairs for their chance to witness ESPN’s 10-time Emmy Award-winning road show, College GameDay. By 9 a.m., the official start of the show, Stokes Lawn was teeming with thousands of students and fans, all filled with a tangible energy in anticipation of a Top 20 matchup with ACC Atlantic Division implications.
Although Boston College’s first appearance on ESPN’s most famous pre-game show since 2009 was a major success, its actual matchup against #2 Clemson, determined the national game of the week by receiving a primetime kickoff time on ABC, was not. In front of a sellout crowd of 44,500 fans, #2 Clemson (10-0, 7-0 ACC) handled business against #17 Boston College (7-3, 4-2 ACC), 27-7, clinching the ACC Atlantic Division crown for the Tigers, making it four straight seasons in which Clemson will be featured in the ACC Championship Game.
Although much was made of Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence’s lack of experience in cold weather environments, the freshman QB was steady and composed throughout the contest, finishing the night with 295 yards passing and 2 total touchdowns, with the only blemish on his line being a late fourth quarter interception when the outcome of the game was already decided. On the other side of the ball, the performance of Boston College QB Anthony Brown was considered to be the key for the Eagles if they had upset hopes, but disappointingly for Coach Addazio and the Eagles, Brown left the game in the first quarter with an undisclosed injury after enduring a massive hit by Clemson DE Christian Wilkins. Backup QB EJ Perry was forced into the action, but could not mount much offense against the nation’s most heralded defensive front.
BC finished the night with only 113 total yards of offense, scoring their only points of the game via an electrifying 74-yard Michael Walker punt return for a score, which gave the Eagles a temporary hold of the lead, 7-3. Ultimately, the firepower of the Clemson offense was too much for the Eagles to handle, as Clemson consistently found ways to sustain drives and score points, while on the defensive end, the stinginess of the Clemson defensive front made it difficult for the Eagles to even earn first downs. The combination of Clelin Ferrell, Austin Bryant, Dexter Lawrence, and Christian Wilkins notably held ACC Preseason Player of the Year AJ Dillon to just 39 yards on 16 carries.
Despite the disappointment of losing a starting quarterback to injury and struggling to sustain drives on offense, Boston College has 2 winnable games left on its regular season schedule, beginning with a 3:30 p.m. contest next Saturday at Doak Campbell Stadium against a reeling Florida State program (4-6, 2-5 ACC), which will air live on ESPN 2. Following their trip to the Sunshine State, the Eagles will close out the season at home against #13 Syracuse (8-2, 5-2 ACC), a team that BC defeated easily last season, 42-14. With a win in each of these games to close out the season, BC would finish with a 9-3 record, which would be its best record in Steve Addazio’s tenure as head coach.