(17) Clemson (3-1) at Boston College (1-2) (ET)
GAME NOTES: The 17th-ranked Clemson Tigers attempt to pick up the pieces from a devastating loss, as they finish up a two-game road swing with a matchup against Boston College in Chestnut Hill this weekend.
Dabo Swinney's Tigers were locked into their showdown with Florida State last weekend, a matchup thought to be between the conference's two top teams. Clemson jumped out to an early lead, but squandered a 14-point advantage in the second half to fall to the Seminoles in Tallahassee, 49-37.
Frank Spaziani is sitting on a hot seat at Boston College and the start of the 2012 season hasn't helped his case. The Eagles are just 1-2 on the season after enjoying a bye last weekend. The team has losses to Miami-Florida (41-32) and Northwestern (22-13) sandwiched around a win over FCS foe Maine (34-3).
The Tigers are clinging to a narrow 10-9-2 series advantage thanks to a 36-14 win in Death Valley last season. In all, Clemson has won three of the last four meetings.
The Tigers have a prolific offense and can clearly rack up the yards against even the nation's best defenses, including a 426-yard eruption against the Seminoles last weekend. The numbers on the season are equally impressive, with the team netting just under 500 yards per game (494.5 ypg), getting great balance between the run (198.5 ypg) and the pass (296.0 ypg).
Quarterback Tahj Boyd orchestrates the squad. Boyd is completing a steady 68 percent of his passes, for 984 yards, with nine touchdowns against just two interceptions. Boyd has plenty of talent around him, with standout WRs Sammy Watkins (missed the first two games) and DeAndre Hopkins (31 receptions, 4-7 yards, five TDs) on the outside and RB Andre Ellington (383 yards, 5.7 ypc, five TDs) in the backfield.
The Clemson defense plays second-fiddle in Death Valley to the offense in terms of production. In fact, the Tigers have struggled against both the run (206.5 ypg) and the pass (236.0 ypg) this season. It was never more evident than in last week's loss to Florida State, which amassed 667 yards in the game. The team has struggled with its pass rush in particular, with just four sacks on the season.
Despite the obvious deficiencies that came to light in the loss to Florida State, Boyd stood up and addressed the situation.
"Offense doesn't win a game; defense doesn't win a game; special teams don't win a game," he said. "Regardless of the situation, that loss goes onto this team collectively as a unit. There's no need for anything to divide us."
Linebacker Stephone Anthony leads the Tigers with 38 total tackles. Fellow LB Jonathan Willard is a distant second at 24 tackles, followed by safety Jonathan Meeks (23 tackles).
The Eagles have featured a one-dimensional offense this season, ranking 114th in the country in rushing (95.7 ypg) and 16th in passing (317.0 ypg). The result is the 60th-ranked offense overall (412.7 ypg).
Quarterback Chase Rettig has emerged as a viable signal-caller in the ACC, despite coming into the season with lots of questions surrounding his ability to lead. Rettig has completed 56.7 percent of his passes thus far, for 956 yards, with six touchdowns and just one interception. Wide receiver Alex Amidon has benefited from Rettig's play and vice versa, with Amidon ranking fourth nationally in receiving (122.0 ypg), leading the team with 25 catches, for 366 yards and one score.
Boston College is allowing 392.7 yards per game through the first three games, particularly vulnerable to the run (190.0 ypg).
Butkus Award winner Luke Kuechly has taken his talents to the NFL, but the linebacking position has not suffered thus far in terms of production. Senior Nick Clancy has picked up the slack and currently leads the nation in tackles (14.33 per game) thanks in large part to a 24-tackle performance against Northwestern. Junior Kevin Pierre-Louis adds to the strength of the linebacking corps, ranking sixth nationally with 12.0 tackles per game. Junior Steele Divitto is active as well, just under double-digits at 9.33 tackles per game.
The Eagles haven't shown the ability to neutralize an offense with the kind of explosiveness that Clemson will bring. It's always a tough time in Chestnut Hill, but the Tigers are likely to be focused at the task at hand coming off their deflating loss to Florida State.
"It's going to be a huge challenge for us, especially coming off the disappointing loss," Swinney said. "I think everybody knows we've only won once up there. And the one time we won was a wild one. This is a team that's had an open date, and I don't have any doubt that we'll get the very best that they've got."
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Clemson 27, Boston College 20