by Joe Schwartz
Boston College (4-2, 2-2 ACC) vs. N.C. State (3-3, 0-2 ACC)
3:30 p.m., Saturday, Chestnut Hill, Mass.
ABC, WRAL-FM 101.5
Key stats … 820. That's how many passing yards the Wolfpack have allowed in the last two weeks to Wake Forest quarterback Riley Skinner and Duke's man under center, Thaddeus Lewis. You can bet BC's Dave Shinskie is salivating after viewing that tape. After watching his team get carved up for the second time in as many weeks Head Coach Tom O'Brien said something needed to change, lest they face teams trying to pass 50 times a game the rest of the year.
The stakes are high this week for an N.C. State team hoping to keep it's bowl hopes viable. They've got six games left on the schedule and need to win four to play during the holiday season. A loss here, and the road gets very tough. A win, and perhaps they can go on a run like they did last year. Head Coach Tom O'Brien returns to Boston College, where he coached before coming to Raleigh and faces his longtime assistant Frank Spaziani. Both teams look to rebound this week after multiple-toucdown defeats last week. This one will come down to which team responded the best during the week of practice.
Boston College will win if … They follow Thaddeus Lewis's blueprint on pinpointing lots of dink and dunk passes. The Wolfpack defense has shown it can stop the run, with Willie Young, Alan-Michael Cash and Ray Michel all showing their stoutness, but their passing defense leaves a lot to be desired.
N.C. State will win if … They figure out how to cure their secondary woes. This should be a good week for them to rebound from back-to-back losses to open conference play. The Eagles were flat out embarrassed and exposed last week at Virginia Tech, 48-14 (trust us, it wasn't even that close). They also need to establish Toney Baker, who ran well in limited opportunities against Duke last week. This game could be ugly, and a running game will go a long way toward winning it.
Players to watch Anyone in the N.C. State secondary. If you find them near receivers. breaking up passes, making tackles the first time. the Wolfpack will win. If not, it'll be a long day, and a long offseason. As mentioned above, Toney Baker will be the key on offense. Look also for Russell Wilson to find George Bryan over the middle. He's become a favorite target for the talented N.C. State sophomore.
Vegas line Boston College -3
Score prediction and brief explanation The weather will come into play, making this a likely ugly and run heavy contest, which plays into the Wolfpack's favor. We've got to think N.C. State took the Duke loss pretty hard, despite all the players lauding the Blue Devils as a team on the rise. This group has a history of rallying down the stretch when others have given up on them. Look for them to repeat that and squeak out a hard-fought victory 24-20.