Clemson vs. Boston College Preview
•Clemson (7-0, 5-0) vs. Boston College (4-3, 2-2)
•Clemson ranked #2 by USA Today and #4 by Associated Press
•ACC Network, 7:30 p.m. (Dave O’Brien, Tim Hasselback, Katie George)
•At Memorial Stadium, Clemson, SC (81,500) Limited tickets available
•Clemson has a 17-9-2 advantage in the series that dates to the 1940 (1939 season) Cotton Bowl. The Tigers won that game 6-3 in the first bowl game in Clemson history.
•Clemson has won eight straight in the series and 10 of 11 under Dabo Swinney. Swinney has 10 wins against Boston College and Wake Forest for the most victories against one school in his career. The only Boston College win over a Dabo Swinney coached team took place in 2010 when Boston College won in Chestnut Hill, 16-10.
•This will be the 12th time the two teams play for the McFadden-O’Rourke Trophy. Clemson has won 10 of the first 11. There is also a Most Valuable Player Leather Helmet Award that has been won by a Clemson player 10 of the 11 years. Two active Tigers have won the Award, Travis Etienne in 2017 and Trevor Lawrence last year.
•Boston College joined the ACC for the 2005 season and won the first three games in the series, including two in overtime, as an ACC member, all with quarterback Matt Ryan at the controls. Clemson has won 10 of the 11 since, so Clemson has a 10-4 advantage since Boston College joined the ACC.
•Clemson has not lost in Death Valley to Boston College since 2007 (won five in a row) when the Eagles won 20-17 in a battle of top 20 teams that decided the Atlantic Division.
• Steve Addazio is in his seventh year as head coach of the Eagles. He has led Boston College to a winning season in five of his previous six years. His record at Boston College is 42-41, and including two years at Temple, he is 55-52 in nine years as an FBS head coach.
•A graduate of Central Connecticut State college in New Britain, Connecticut, he got his start in coaching as an assistant at Western Connecticut State and also has been an assistant at Syracuse, Notre Dame, Indiana, and Florida.
•Dabo Swinney is in his 11th full season (12th overall including seven games as interim head coach in 2008) at Clemson and has a 123-30 (.804) record entering Saturday’s game.
•Swinney is one of nine coaches in FBS history with at least 150 games coached and an 80 percent winning percentage. He moved ahead of Washington Coach Chris Petersen into first place among winningest active coaches (min five years) with the win at Louisville and Washington’s loss to Oregon. Petersen is now 144-36 for a .800 mark.
•Swinney’s record includes a 74-16 mark in ACC games and that .822 winning percentage is the best in league history.
Five Notes of Interest
•Thomas Rayham, the father of Boston College junior nose tackle T.J. Rayam, was a teammate of Dabo Swinney at Alabama. Rayham had a career high 11 tackles against Wake Forest earlier this year, and is eighth on the team in tackles this year with 25.
•Richard Yeargin, who will wear #2 for Boston College as a defensive end, is a Clemson graduate who played for the Tigers 2016 National Championship team, but missed the last two years with injury. He has eight tackles in seven games, but four of the tackles are tackles for loss. He will be the first player to play for Clemson and against Clemson in Death Valley for a Power Five Conference school since Lemont Pegues played running back for Clemson in 1994-95 and for Virginia Tech against Clemson in 1998.
•Clemson has given up just 29 points in the first half this year, seven in the first quarter and 22 in the second quarter. Clemson is outscoring the opposition 159-29 in the first half this year.
•Trevor Lawrence needs just 186 passing yards to reach the 5,000 yard passing mark in his career. Lawrence has played in 22 games as a quarterback for Clemson, including 18 as a starter. He is yet to take a second half snap with the Tigers trailing in his career.
•There have been only 10 total sacks in Boston College games so far this year, seven by the Eagles defense and the Eagles have given up just three.
Dabo Swinney on the Boston College Game
“I am pumped to be home for two straight weeks. We only have three home games left. It is always special to play at home and at a Clemson Homecoming. I love to drive by the floats on the way home after practice and see the students hard at work.
“Boston College is 4-3 with two last minute losses they could have won. The only game they have been out of is the Kansas game.
“In watching their game against NC State I thought I was watching a game from the 1990s. It is a team that likes to run the ball and runs down hill. We better have our big boy pads on because this will be a physical game. They have an outstanding offensive line that has allowed just three sacks all year.
“Their two backs (A.J. Dillon and David Bailey) run with a tough mindset. They would rather run over you than around you. They were terrific against NC State, a team that was giving up just 67 yards a game on the ground coming in. BC had over 400 yards against them. These guys like contact.
“Dillon is an old school back who will drag you (when you try to tackle him). They will run him with the zone power game and it will be up to us to fit in the back seven correctly.
“This will be a matchup of two of the top 10 teams in the nation in rushing offense and total offense, so this is going to be a challenge for our defense. They use three tight ends and one of them (Hunter Long) is their top receiver.
“On defense, Boston College likes man coverage in the secondary. They are aggressive and use blitz packages to put pressure on the quarterback.
“I am looking forward to seeing Richard Yeargin (former Clemson player, now a graduate transfer at Boston College). I texted with him last week. It is inspiring to see him out there. He got his first start last week. I am proud of him.
Clemson Offense vs. Boston College Defense
Clemson ranks 10th in the nation in scoring (40.0), 10th in rushing (247.3) and 10th in total offense (505) so far this season. Clemson is one of the most balanced teams in the nation, averaging 247 a game rushing and 257 a game passing. Clemson’s 6.4 yards per carry as a team is third best in the nation. Clemson’s 25 first downs per game ranks 15th in the nation. The Tigers lead the ACC in scoring and rank second in rushing and total offense.
The Tigers have a strong offensive line that has allowed just five sacks all year. Clemson is tied for fourth in the nation in sacks allowed. Combined with the Clemson defense ranking fifth in the nation in sacks with 28, the Tigers are among the national leaders in sack differential.
Travis Etienne leads the Tigers in rushing with 781 in seven games for a 111.6 average, 10th best in the nation. He is averaging 8.0 yards a carry this year and 7.8 for his career. He is first in Clemson history in that category. He is coming off a 192-yard game against Louisville in just 14 attempts. He has 43 rushing touchdowns in his career and 46 total.
Trevor Lawrence is the quarterback of the Tigers and has an 18-0 record as a starter. The Tigers are 22-0 since he came to campus. Combined with a 52-2 record as a starter in high school, teams Lawrence has been on the last six years are 74-2. This year Lawrence is 121-190 for 1534 yards and 14 touchdowns against eight interceptions. He has completed 63.7 percent of his passes this year and 64.7 for his career for 4814 yards and 44 touchdowns,.
Tee Higgins leads the Tigers in receiving yards with 552 and his 22.1 average per reception is best in the nation among players with at least 25 catches. He has 101 career catches for 1833 yards and 17 touchdowns. Justyn Ross has 28 for 334 yards this year and four touchdowns. He has 74 career catches for 1334 yards and 13 scores. Amari Rodgers has 18 catches for 261 yards this year and needs just 41 receiving yards to reach 1000 for his career.
The Boston College defense ranks 121st in the nation in pass defense allowing 288 yards per game. The Eagles are 116th in total defense, allowing 460 yards a game. They are 74th in scoring defense (28.1) and 81st in rushing defense (172.4).
Max Richardson leads the team in tackles with 74, including a team best 11 tackles for loss. He has a team best 182 career tackles and 21 tackles for loss. Mike Palmer has 54 tackles this year to rank second on the team, while Mehdi El Attrach has 45 stops and John Lamot has 44. Lamot has 142 career tackles, second among active Eagles.
Clemson Defense vs. Boston College Offense
Boston College has the top rushing combination in the nation in A.J. Dillon and David Bailey. They have combined for 1478 yards so far this year, more than any other running back duo in the nation. They average over 6 yards a carry as a duo.
Dillon has 968 rushing yards and nine touchdowns to go with a 5.4 average. For his career he has 3,665 rushing yards on 705 attempts and has scored 33 touchdowns. He has a 5.2 average for those 705 carries in 30 games. He averages 138 yards a game on the ground this year and 122 per game for his career.
Combined with Clemson’s Travis Etienne, this game will feature a pair of 3,000-yard running backs.
Bailey has 510 yards rushing on 81 attempts and has four touchdowns this year. Dillon and Bailey are coming off their best combined game with 404 yards, 223 by Dillon and 181 by Bailey. It was the only game this year nationally that two players had at least 150 rushing yards in the same game for the same team.
Anthony Brown was the quarterback for Boston College for the first six games, but it out for the year with an injury. Dennis Grosel has taken on the role of starter and guided Boston College to victory over NC State. He is 18-46 for 235 yards and three scores. His favorite target will be tight end Hunter Long, who has 18 catches for 361 yards.
The Clemson defense ranks eighth in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 12 points a game, ahead of the 13.1 allowed by the 2018 team that led the nation in scoring defense. Clemson has held 10 straight opponents to 20 points or less the longest streak by the Clemson program since 1989-90. The Tigers also have a seven game streak of allowing under 300 yards total offense, the longest streak for the Clemson program since 1956.
Isaiah Simmons leads the Clemson defense and is an All-American and national defensive Player of the Year candidate. He has a team best 59 tackles, including 10 tackles for loss and six sacks. James Skalski is second on the club with 40 stops, while Chad Smith is third at 33. Tanner Muse is a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award and has 27 tackles and three interceptions.
Justin Foster was the ACC Defensive Lineman of the Week for his performance at Louisville that included two sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss.
•Clemson’s kickoff man B.T. Potter has 34 touchbacks on 40 kickoffs so far this year and is first in the nation in kickoffs with a 65.03 yards per kickoff average. He is fourth in the nation in touchback percentage and is a big reason Clemson is 11th in the nation in kickoff return defense. Last week he made a 51-yard field goal, the second 51-yarder he has made this year.
•Will Spiers is one of the most improved punters in the nation, as his average has gone from 38.9 to 42.5. He has allowed just two punt returns for nine yards this year and his individual net average of 42.12, near the Clemson single season record of 42.6 by Dale Hatcher in 1984.
•In terms of returns, Joseph Ngata has a 27.6 kickoff return average on eight returns. Amari Rodgers has a solid 8.4 punt return average. Rodgers had a 53-yard punt return for a touchdown against Boston College last year.
•Boston College has been solid in the special teams. Aaron Boumerhi has made 6-9 field goals with a long of 45. Grant Carlson has averaged 41.3 yards a punt on 29 boots. This is his second year as the Eagles punter and has a 40.5 career average. Kickoff man Danny Longman has 22 touchbacks in 44 kickoffs.
•In terms of returns Travis Levy averages 24 yards per kickoff returns and also handles punt returns with a 9.0 average. Opponents average 23 yards per kickoff return and 6.2 on punt returns. Each team had a punt return for a touchdown in this game last year, a first in Clemson history.