Clemson is in the driver's seat for the College Football Playoff, but it must be careful of this Top 25 matchup on Saturday, as it heads north to face a physical Boston College football team (8 p.m. ET, ABC). BC is quietly rising up the rankings and doing so without a lot of flash.
The Eagles feature a pro-style, power-running offense with multiple tight end sets. Their tight ends are more hybrids who are deployed at fullback and varied alignments. They are jumbo in size to create blocking mismatches but still athletic enough as pass-catchers to warrant coverage attention, which brings smaller defensive personnel into the box. Leading that group is No. 89 Tommy Sweeney, listed at 6-foot-5, 260 pounds.
Boston College is 23rd nationally in rushing, averaging 225 yards per game. The Eagles are 6-0 this season when tallying more rushing attempts and rushing yards than their opponent.
That combination is the exact recipe needed to slow down the Tigers' offensive juggernaut and upset Clemson.
However, the ground-and-pound, clock-eating strategy won't come easy. BC has an up-tempo flavor to its offense and are near the bottom of the Power 5 in time of possession. The Eagles are also going against a Clemson defensive front laden with future first-round NFL draft picks.
Clemson gave up 81 yards on the ground last week against Louisville. The Tigers have allowed just 2.24 yards per rush this season, which is the best mark in the Power 5, and they have allowed just 90.4 rushing yards per game (fourth best in Power 5).
The Eagles need to slow it down, stay ahead of the chains on early drives and play physical, downhill football using the crowd and the elements to their advantage. Conversely, they need to stay away from the space game, where the Tigers have the speed and athleticism advantage on defense.
The X factor is a healthy AJ Dillon in the backfield. BC's star is a 245-pound, prototypical load back built for high carries while wearing down a defense. Against Miami, the sophomore had 149 yards on 32 carries; but he left the Virginia Tech game after aggravating an ankle injury.
Let's look at a few plays from Boston College's past two games (Miami and Virginia Tech) that highlight a key for Saturday night's contest in the Eagles' downhill rushing offense, from varied alignments.