In an atypical year burdened by uncertainty, we turn to the known for weekend assurance. College football is that reliable old friend waiting to uplift spirits and give escape from whatever ills sit outside living room walls. For roughly four hours Saturday afternoon ACC bowl contenders take center stage as the Duke Blue Devils host rival Boston College. Last weekend Duke flashed offensive signs before falling 24-13 against top-ten ranked Norte Dame.
Conversely, Boston College ran recon on its latest opponent and opens its Fall calendar on Saturday 4.5 points behind the gun vs. host Duke.
The narrative here is former Clemson backup Chase Brice is set to breakout after tossing 259 yards and 20 of 37 recently vs. the Irish. It’s therefore incumbent upon visiting BC to fluster Brice as the junior sets behind an experienced line and sights RB Noah Gray and TE Deon Jackson as release valves.
While neither side found defensive footing last year, the Eagles finished 6-7 after claiming a fourth-straight bowl nod. Duke fell offensively in 2019, winning just five games. Another key element between these teams is if former ND quarterback Phil Jurkovec will make his anticipated Boston College debut.
With storylines abounding, take a look below for deeper coverage.
Boston College Adds Key New NamesFollowing slight declines last winter, Boston College Eagles Football reloaded with Jurkovic and debut head coach Jeff Hafley. The ex-architect of Ohio State’s fruitful defense, Hafley seeks to begin top signal calling life in the ACC by revamping a group which allowed 31 ppg and 6.5 yards per snap in 2019. LB Max Richardson heads an intriguing corps buying into what Hafley offers. Meanwhile, either Jurkovic or Dennis Grosel will reside under experienced center as BC adds excellent offensive line protection.
Even with top-tier interior blocking the Eagles averaged middling offensive numbers last year at 29 ppg. Gone are statistical leaders Anthony Brown and AJ Dillon -Dillon now rushes Sundays for Green Bay. RB David Bailey and one of the BC play-callers are expected to thrive in that open role. However, offensive depth, once a team strength, is questionable, as is the generally leaky defense.
Head Coach Jeff Hafley shared these words with The Washington Times concerning his appointment over a program that’s split its last 88 games:
“Our players feel safe. And our players want to play. My job is to coach them the best that I can, as hard as I can and make them feel as safe as they can.
“Going through all of this, and seeing how hard it’s been for our players and seeing how our players have responded, makes me realize even more what a great decision I made coming here, and how excited I am to be the coach here.”
Chase Brice Looks to Break Out As Duke StarterTop-down continuity isn’t an issue at Duke where David Cutcliffe has coached since 2008. The Blue Devils boast six postseason appearances and one top 25 ranking in the Cutcliffe era. Many are justifiably excited to learn what Chase Brice can offer following his time with national power Clemson. No longer behind extraordinary depth chart talent, the junior takes over an offense ready to defy lax 2019 numbers -25.2 ppg.
While Norte Dame’s red zone defense collapsed winning Blue Devil notions, Brice moved the ball well opposite top national defenders. The national champion had these week one post-game comments for 24/7 Sports:
“When you get that close, inside the five, you're not going to beat a team like Notre Dame with field goals. We shot ourselves in the foot both of those times.“
The opposing defense will be much looser this weekend as Brice and company enjoy another home field opportunity where they’ve won ten of twelve openers. Expect holes to open on both ends as Duke sets tone with skill players Gray and Jackson. Defensively, Chris Rumph and Safety Michael Carter look to shine before embarking on the ninth toughest national schedule.
Odds Courtesy is OddsShark.com
- Boston College is 2-4 ATS in its last 6 games
- Boston College is 2-4 SU in its last 6 games on the road
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Each team could sport a new 2020 look behind center on Saturday. However, host Duke owns far greater continuity than visiting Boston College. That stated, expect a star effort from Brice as he shows exactly why Clemson brought him in. With downfield strikes and added timely runs from Deon Jackson, the Blue Devils will overcome whatever effort the Eagles offer from their incoherent core.
Take Duke to cover in Saturday’s ACC showdown after coming in well under the line vs. Notre Dame.
Prediction: Duke Wins -4.5
Full-Game Total Pick
Look for an Under play between these ACC rivals not traditionalmy noted for explosive offense. Yes. Both sides also have defensive holes, which Brice should exploit, but in the overall scheme neither side will offer enough breakaway ability to warrant their collective predicted Total.
Take the Under Saturday as these programs battle to defy low expectations and notch a win on their road to fringe bowl contention.
Prediction: Under 51.5