Saturday, September 15, 2012. 2:30 pm CDT
ESPN 1000 Radio
Game Preview: Boston College
by Jonathan Hodges
Northwestern Wildcats (2-0, 0-0) face their third straight
non-conference opponent from a BCS league in the second game of their
four game homestand as the Boston College Eagles (1-1) come to town.
The 'Cats have a chance to make a statement while the rest of the
conference seemingly falters and can continue to put itself in a good
position with three win-able games on the horizon. But Fitz is putting
the pedal to the metal in order to ensure the Wildcats don't slack off
and have a letdown game, which has been a problem in the past.
Opening Line: Northwestern by 4.5. O/U 52.5.
Who Should Win: Northwestern.
The Wildcats have shown flashes of greatness on offense (particularly
through the middle quarters at Syracuse and in the final period versus
Vanderbilt), defense (throughout the final three quarters of the Vandy
game), and special teams (Venric Mark, plus Jeff Budzien nailing his
three FG attempts last week). BC, meanwhile, got beat by a down Miami
(FL) team in a shootout (who were subsequently demolished by Kansas
State 52-13), and has a win thanks to facing FCS Maine last week (a
game in which they were down 3-0 for much of the first half).
Boston College can throw the ball around thanks to junior QB Chase
Rettig who is averaging 330 passing yards per game, good for eighth
nationally, and all 'Cats fans know one glaring weakness of this team
is the defensive backfield. They will certainly be challenged, and it
doesn't help that BC is giving up only one sack per game this season,
putting them near the top nationally. If NU slips in coverage and/or is
not able to get to the QB, this can turn into a shootout and, if it
does, anything can happen.
NU Offense vs. BC Defense:
The Eagles' defense looked suspect in week one against Miami, giving up
41 points at home, and one should look for NU to move the ball much
better than they did versus Vanderbilt last week. Hopefully Fitz and OC
Mick McCall find the right combination/rotation of QBs Kain Colter and
Trevor Siemian to keep the ball rolling. Expect Mark to play a
significant role on the ground (BC is giving up 133.5 yards per game
rushing) and for McCall to dial up a good mix of plays, which should
allow NU to put points on the board.
NU Defense vs. BC Offense:
Can the DL repeat its great performance from a week ago? That might
determine the outcome of this game as BC will certainly look to throw
early and often. Rettig will be looking for WR Alex Amidon who already
has 248 receiving yards, and they'll try to mix in runs from Andrew
Williams, who broke a long run on NU's first play from scrimmage last
season, and Tahj Kimble. The defense will have to stay honest and look
out for play action out of more of a pro set, which NU hasn't seen a
whole lot of so far. Hopefully CB Nick VanHoose will be healthy enough
to go this week after coming out of last week's game with a back injury
as the secondary will need all the help it can get.
NU did a nice job in all aspects of special teams last week, limiting
all returns, playing pretty well in the punting game, and Budzien
hitting all of his kicks to the tune of 11 points on the night.
Hopefully BC will decide to kick to Mark once or twice and we'll see
what happens there. Again, I'll give the edge to NU here.
Northwestern has a chance to notch three non-conference wins over BCS
conference opponents for the first time since 1962 (in which they had
wins over South Carolina, Notre Dame, and Miami (FL)). NU is also
inching up the polls with 5 points in the AP poll and 9 in the Coaches'
poll. NU is 8th nationally and first in the Big Ten with a +2.0
turnovers per game margin. Mark continues to perform well in all
aspects of the game and is second nationally in all-purpose yards at
219.5 per game. NU is now 6-1 in regular season games vs. BCS
conference opponents under Fitz.
Prediction: Northwestern 35 - Boston College 31
don't expect NU's defensive stand to continue against a BC team that
has shown it can air it out. But, the Wildcats should be able to move
the ball with relative ease and has the ability to put points on the
board in bunches, so expect a higher scoring game and an NU victory as
Fitz keeps his team focused through yet another non-conference
challenge for the 'Cats.
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