Clemson at Boston College

The Sports Xchange

November 07, 2018 at 6:21 pm.

KICKOFF: Saturday, 8 p.m. ET
SITE: Alumni Stadium, Chestnut Hill, Mass.
SERIES: Clemson leads 16-9-2. Clemson won 34-7 in 2017.
RANKINGS: Clemson No. 2, Boston College No. 17


–QB Trevor Lawrence is coming off a career-low 59-yard passing game, not so much because he had a poor outing but rather because the Tigers didn’t need much input from their freshman quarterback while racking up 492 rushing yards in a 77-16 romp against Louisville. It may be a much different story at Boston College this week as the Eagles’ defense is geared more toward slowing the run rather than the pass. Lawrence, who will be making just his sixth career start, leads the ACC with 18 touchdown passes and a 163.0 pass efficiency rating. “I like playing in big games,” Lawrence said. “It’s fun going on the road and experiencing new things.”

–RB Travis Etienne managed a total of 84 yards in games against N.C. State and Florida State, but returned to his 100-yard ways last week against Louisville with 153 yards on only eight carries. The sophomore will enter the Boston College game just two yards short of becoming the 21st player in Clemson history to rush for 1,000 or more yards in a season.

–LB Kendall Joseph had a team-leading 10 tackles against Louisville. A similar performance could be in the offing this week at Boston College; Joseph has totaled 19 tackles in the Tigers’ last two games against the Eagles. “He’s been a model of consistency the last three years and has been a critical part of our success,” Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables said. “He can play multiple positions and has great instincts.”


–QB Anthony Brown had a miserable first half at Virginia Tech, missing several wide-open targets. He was better after the break and finished 15-of-26 for 177 yards and a touchdown. For the year, he is 121-of-209 (57.9 percent) for 1,567 yards, 16 touchdowns and five interceptions — four of the picks coming in one game.

–RB AJ Dillon, a preseason All-American, missed over two games with an ankle injury and returned with a 149-yard game against Miami. He ran for 96 yards last week at Virginia Tech but left the game with an undisclosed injury. Coach Steve Addazio said it will be a wait and see on Dillon for this week.
–DE Zach Allen continues to add to his resume, recovering his second fumble of the season and the fourth of his college career at Virginia Tech. He was limited to four tackles and had two quarterback hits as the focus of Tech’s blocking. For the season, he has 46 tackles, 21 of them solo, 12.5 for loss, including 5.5 sacks — and he has an interception, five pass breakups, eight quarterback hits, a blocked kick and a forced fumble.


Undefeated and No. 2 Clemson can clinch the Atlantic Division title and earn a berth in the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship Game with a win over No. 17 Boston College Saturday night.

Kickoff. at Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill is 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

But don’t try to sell coach Dabo Swinney on the notion that this is bigger than any other game for his Tigers (9-0, 6-0 ACC).

“All of our games are big,” Swinney said. “It just so happens that after this one, if you win, they hand you a trophy. And that’s pretty cool.”

The Eagles (7-2, 4-1 ACC) have won three in a row and are looking to stay in contention for the spot in the league title game for the first time since back-to-back appearances in 2007-08. Unlike Clemson, which will clinch at least a share of the division with a win, the Eagles would still have to win one of their two remaining games (at Florida State and home against Syracuse) to advance to the championship game.

The Eagles present a bit of an unknown for the Tigers, who have a seven-game winning streak in the series after last year’s 34-7 win at Clemson.

There’s no guarantee that star running back and ACC Preseason Player of the Year AJ Dillon will be available for the Eagles. Dillon missed 2-1/2 games with an ankle injury, and returned with 149 yards and a touchdown in a win over Miami two weeks ago but he clearly wasn’t 100 percent.

He rushed for 96 yards against Virginia Tech last week before leaving after a hard hit on the sideline. He did not return, and his replacement, Travis Levy, scored the first two rushing touchdowns of his college career.

“I saw him yesterday and he was bouncing around, a good smile on his face,” BC coach Steve Addazio said Monday. “I mean he’s dinged up. It is what it is. That’s not going to significantly change one way or the other.

“The question just becomes how well he can handle that. But I would assume with these kind of injuries you’re not going to feel exactly the way you should feel until you get to a bowl game and have a few weeks.

“I think this is ongoing and certainly a fair question will be is will it feel good enough by game time to play on it?”

Clemson will be prepared either way.

“I think they’ve got a number of quality backs,” Tigers defensive coordinator Brent Venables said, noting that even though Dillon has missed time the Eagles are still in contention for the division title. “That speaks to the depth that they have and their ability to use guys in different ways.

Venables said Dillon’s replacement, Levy, also is versatile.

“They’ve used him through the early part of the year in a variety of ways whether it’s the shotgun, zone-read stuff or a lot of screens and getting him out in space,” Venables said. “He gets in there this past week, and he had done it prior to that in their heavy stuff and he would run hard, tough, and physical between the tackles, too. More explosive.

“He’s kind of like our No. 9 (Travis Etienne), maybe a little bit heavier but got kind of a shiftiness and change of gear. He runs with power, speed, and runs through trash as well.”

The Eagles come in with their highest ranking in 11 years and are headed for their fifth bowl game in six seasons under Addazio. It was only three seasons ago that BC was winless in conference play and finished 3-9 overall.

“I expect the atmosphere here will be sensational,” Addazio said. “We are expecting a full stadium and a crowd that will be in their seats early, and creating a great home-field advantage, which I’m sure it will be.”