Why It Matters: Maryland already needs to beat one of Georgia Tech, Clemson, Florida State, and UNC. Unless you want to count on getting two of them, Maryland needs this win, because it's the closest thing left on the schedule to a gimme game. ... Also, might be fun to get Frank Spaziani to get fired.
When + Where: 1:00 on Saturday at Alumni Stadium, Chestnut Hill, Ma.
TV: ESPN3. Literally the worst time/network slot possible.
Series History: 3-6 BC.
Expected Weather: 67 and sunny. I love you, October football.
Odds: -1 BC. Opened with the Terps as favorite, but moved BC's way pretty quickly. I'd guess they're selling Maryland a bit short here because Perry Hills almost assuredly won't play and because they lost to State. But given that BC is 1-6 and has lost to Army, yeah, it's a bit weird that they're favored, especially given how good Devin Burns and Caleb Rowe looked in relief of Hills. Wouldn't be surprised to see that line move Maryland's way in the next few days.
At a Glance
Last Time Out: Maryland lost their starting quarterback and their hearts, after Brad Craddock missed a 33-yarder that would've won the game against N.C. State. But they found their offense, which had been missing all year, with Burns running the zone-read masterfully and Caleb Rowe gunslingin' down the field in less than :32. If we've realized anything from this, it's that this team is incredibly resilient. Normally I'd fear that they suffer a comedown against Boston College, but something tells me the exact opposite will happen - especially with BC reeling, certainly not fighting for Spaz, and unprepared for the Burns zone-read. BC, for their part, lost to Georgia Tech by 20, letting the Yella Jackets break their three-game losing streak. At 31-3 late in the third quarter, the game was virtually finished before BC made a late push with two touchdowns in the final seventeen minutes.
(Oh, and they gave up nearly 400 yards on the ground. The zone-read is not the triple option - the plays are completely different to defend - but still, you have to wonder if this might tip the balance in favor of Burns.)
Season So Far: Imagine Maryland last year. Then imagine it slightly worse. Then imagine it if Edsall had actually been at Maryland for four years and had gotten worse each year. Because that's basically what's happening to BC right now. They put up a good fight against Miami, beat Maine, and then fell apart somewhat, dropping games to Northwestern, Army, and GT, as well as Florida State and Clemson. This is a team reeling if there ever was one.
It's also an interesting comparison to last year, when an iffy BC team came to Byrd Stadium and ran roughshod, sealing Maryland's disappointing season. Virginia did the same. Maryland got their revenge on the Cavs already this season, hastening their schadenfreude-y circling of the drain, and could do the same to BC this time around.
Notable Stats: Boston College is the third-most unbalanced offense in the ACC, behind Georgia Tech (triple option) and Maryland (about to become Auburn circa 2010, at least in scheme). But whereas as Tech and Maryland are all about running the ball, BC airs it out at an alarming rate, at about 57% passing. I saw enough against N.C. State to know that Maryland needs to work on their safeties if they want to get out of this one alive. But Jeremiah Johnson gets another chance to make his name. ...
Defensively, their numbers are really quite skewed, because two of their seven opponents, darn near a third of their opponents, have run the triple option. Army and Georgia Tech between them had 155 carries against BC, and they're generally efficient veer, triple-option schemes. (BC has faced more rush attempts than anyone in the country.) Take those two out of the equation, along with laughably-inept Maine, though, and things aren't much better. Against Miami: 208 yards on 6.12 ypc; 293 yards to Northwestern on 4.88 ypc; 209 yards to Clemson on 4.54 ypc; and 201 to Florida State on 6.09 ypc. What does that tell Maryland's staff? I don't know for sure, but it seems to me like the running quarterback - Burns - would be more likely to start. Compare that to BC's more-respectable pass defense, at 68th in QB rating and 70th in yards/attempt, and I'd rather bet on Burns' legs and the zone-read than Rowe's still unproven arm coming through in a road game in basically his first game ever. Maybe the staff knows different, though. ...
As you'd expect from a passing team that gets run all over, BC doesn't do a thing like holding onto the ball, 115th nationally in time of possession. Maryland needs to exploit that. ... If there's one thing they're really good at, though, it's not getting penalized. They're seventh nationally there, which is worrisome for a Maryland team that's relied heavily on other teams beating themselves.
Know the Name: Alex Amidon. Amidon is second in the ACC in receiving yards/game, second in receptions per game, and 10th in yards/catch. (He also challenges Conner Vernon in the Awkward White Guy Receiver With Weird Hair category.) Paging Jeremiah Johnson. (And you, Eric Franklin. Don't lose track of this one.)
Probably Wrong Conclusions After a Fleeting First Look: BC has the passing game to at least test Maryland's secondary, probably not with any consistency but enough to take advantage of the 2-to-5 mistakes they'll make every game. But teams that can possess the ball scare me more than teams who air it out, because Maryland's defense is deadly when fresh. BC's defense, to boot, might not have the rush defense to stop Maryland's fancy, new, actually-functional zone-read scheme, which to me at least makes it a lot more sensible to make Burns the starter. Maryland possesses the ball, runs it on them successfully, and that limits the amount of passes BC gets to take, and therefore the amount of mistakes they can capitalize. If Maryland can run, they win. I know confidence doesn't come easy, but this might be the best time for it. (Assuming the team doesn't adopt the same mentality, natch.)