The Louisville Cardinals will try to get their first ACC win of the season this weekend when they visit the Boston College Eagles. Game time is set for 12:30 EST on Saturday, October 13, at Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. Fans can find the game on ACC Network Extra.
This week’s college football odds tell us that Boston College is favored by 13.5 points at home. That line is down slightly after the Eagles began the week as 14-point favorites. The over/under for this game is listed at 61 points.
The Cardinals are on the verge of hitting rock bottom in the Bobby Petrino era. They have lost three games in a row to fall to 2-4 overall and 0-3 in ACC play. Louisville’s only wins this season have come against FCS opponent Indiana State and in-state rival Western Kentucky in a game they barely won.
With the Cardinals needing four wins in their final six games to qualify for a bowl, missing a bowl for the first time 2009 is a distinct possibility. It certainly doesn’t help that Louisville plays three of their final six games against teams that are currently ranked. It’s safe to say that any bowl hopes the Cardinals have this season rest on beating Boston College on Saturday. Even then, they face a narrow path to bowl eligibility.
The Eagles, meanwhile, remain in good shape despite last week’s loss to N.C. State. Boston College was briefly ranked earlier this year but was quickly knocked out of the polls after losing to Purdue. They currently sit at 4-2 and 1-1 in conference play.
In theory, the Eagles could still win the ACC Atlantic if they win out and get a little help. Of course, that would mean beating Miami, Virginia Tech, and Clemson, among other teams that aren’t exactly easy wins. With the schedule they have ahead of them, Boston College can’t afford to lose a home game against Louisville or they could be scrambling to reach bowl eligibility in November. After last week’s loss, the Eagles will surely be playing with some urgency.
This is a tough game to call because Boston College running back A.J. Dillon is a game-time decision after missing last week’s game due to injury. Dillon is one of the biggest difference makers in the ACC, so whether he plays or not is vital. However, Louisville has been so pitiful this season that I’ll trust the Eagles to cover two touchdowns against the Cardinals with or without Dillon.
Louisville has tried three different quarterbacks this season and still hasn’t found one that works. They are ranked 121st nationally in points per game, so they are prone to going long stretches without scoring. Also, I’m not going to overreact to them scoring 31 points last week against Georgia Tech because the Yellow Jackets are giving up close to 30 points per game, so the Cardinals were right in line with the Georgia Tech defense.
The biggest problem with Louisville’s offense this season has been the turnovers. Over their three ACC games, the Cardinals have turned the ball over nine times. That’s not a winning formula for any team, and I’m not sure it’s going to get any better this week against Boston College. The Eagles have forced 11 turnovers over their last four games, including four last week in a losing effort against N.C. State. Given B.C.’s success at creating takeaways and Louisville’s propensity for committing careless turnovers, the Eagles covering two touchdowns becomes all the more believable.
On the other side of the ball, the Louisville defense hasn’t been quite as bad as the numbers say. I won’t put too much stock into the 66 points they gave up against Georgia Tech’s triple-option last week. That game and the 51 points the Cards gave up against Alabama have skewed the numbers. The Cardinals were more respectable defensively while giving up 27 and 28 points to Virginia and Florida State, respectively.
The caveat with those games is that neither Virginia or Florida State is that explosive offensively. Both have had plenty of problems on that side of the ball, so having some success against Louisville is telling. It makes me think that the Eagles will be able to move the ball with or without Dillon playing. Backup running back Ben Glines had a decent outing last week against a top-20 N.C. State defense. Against a porous Louisville defense, he should do enough to take some of the pressure of quarterback Anthony Brown, who excels when the Eagles run the ball well enough to utilize play-action.
If Dillon plays, this is a no-brainer in favor of Boston College. However, I’m still not sure I see Louisville hanging around even if Dillon sits this one out, especially if their turnover problems continue. For me, the bottom line is that the Cardinals have lost two of their three ACC games by over 20 points. If Virginia was able to beat them comfortably, I don’t see why Boston College can’t do the same. I’ll take my chances with the Eagles covering the spread.