Alex Krowiak / Gavel Media

Boston College Will Need a Team Effort to Challenge Louisville's Offense

Fresh off of an exhilarating 21-14 victory against NC State, the Boston College Eagles (4-4, 1-4 ACC) spent the past several days preparing to host No. 5 ranked Louisville (7-1, 5-1 ACC). Last week, everything clicked on both sides of the ball as the team finally broke its twelve-game ACC losing streak.

Quarterback Patrick Towles finished 18-for-33 with 204 yards through the air, arguably his best performance of the season, and BC’s defense put on a stout performance, with cornerback Kamrin Moore sealing the win after a last-minute interception in the red zone. Junior Harold Landry, named ACC co-defensive end for last week’s performance, proved his all-league talent and remains a critical leader for this team’s defensive front. Moore and Landry, along with the rest of the secondary and the front seven, will have their hands full with the most electric playmaker in the college football—Lamar Jackson.

A true dual-threat quarterback, Jackson is the sparkplug for Louisville’s offense. Jackson has had twenty-two passing touchdowns and sixteen more on the ground this season, meaning he has accounted for nearly 75% of Louisville’s end zone scores. According to a recent ESPN experts’ poll released on November 1, Jackson ranks far ahead of any other candidates in the race for the Heisman Trophy. Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, the last Heisman candidate to face BC this season, torched the Eagles with four touchdowns in a 56-10 thrashing. Jackson brings an equally versatile skill-set, with even more agility and speed, which could pose major problems for the Eagles. Often compared to former Virginia Tech star Michael Vick, he leads the Cardinals in rushing, with nearly one thousand yards and an impressive 6.8 yards-per-carry.

But if last week’s game against UVA (2-6, 1-3 ACC) proved anything, it showed that Jackson and the Cardinals are not untouchable. UVA quarterback Kurt Benkert found his receivers for three touchdowns, exposing gaps in Louisville’s secondary. UVA kept the score close all game and even took the lead with just under two minutes remaining. Moreover, UVA edged the Cardinals in time of possession. In the end, Jackson came through with a clutch 29-yard touchdown strike to wide-receiver Jaylen Smith with merely thirteen seconds remaining to steal the win, but it was not the score you'd expect from such an elite program.

In last year’s matchup against Louisville, the Eagles lost a nail-biter in a 17-14 defensive grudge match. But with one more year of experience, this Louisville team and its star look completely revamped. With only one close 42-36 loss to Clemson, Louisville remains the overwhelming favorite for tomorrow's matchup. BC must follow UVA’s example and make managing the game-clock its major priority, which will be key to limiting opportunities for Louisville’s high-powered offense.

During tomorrow's game, Look for Coach Addazio to combine offensive variety with a few trick plays, utilizing Jeff Smith’s speed in the open field and maybe even Davon Jones’ arm. Following such a narrow victory to a perennial lower-tier ACC team last week, Coach Bobby Petrino and the Louisville Cardinals will be looking to make a statement at Alumni Stadium. In order to stand a chance, BC will need to be firing on all cylinders on both sides of the ball.

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Ryan Fennell