Boston College opens the season in Illinois, not against the Fighting Illini, but against the Northern Illinois Huskies. At this point, Northern Illinois is a bigger threat than Illinois. Lovey Smith has his work cut out for him at brining Illinois back to prominence. At least the Huskies have some big games on their resume in the last few years.
Illinois on the other hand haven’t been anything since Juice Williams was the quarterback of the Fighting Illini. Likewise, Boston College hasn’t had anything to get excited over since Matt Ryan was under center. They have always had a stout defense, but otherwise, they’ve had issues finding a competent offense. It’s really been 17-7 or 17-14 wins or nothing for the Eagles.
Boston College is hoping they find an answer in 2017. Quarterback Patrick Towes graduated, but he was never going to get the offense going in any positive direction anyway. Towes threw for 12 touchdowns and 7 interceptions in his senior year, so that isn’t going to get the job done. The defense is stacked, like always, but there comes a time where the offense has to pick up some of the slack, or they’re going to be playing in more Quick Lane Bowls in the future. Redshirt freshman Anthony Brown hopes to give the offense some life at Boston College.
Brown is a dynamic player that has some dual-threat qualities to him. However, BC hasn’t declared a clear winner of the starting quarterback job. Nevertheless, I see Brown as the future here. Darius Wade is the senior who has more experience, but I think everybody knows who the more talented quarterback is.
Northern Illinois isn’t sharing their hand either, as they have a quarterback battle going on as well. The Huskies are looking to get them bowling again. They failed to reach bowl season for the first time since 2008 last year. Head blow for our free Boston College vs. Northern Illinois pick on Friday night.
Boston College Eagles vs. Northern Illinois Huskies Betting Odds:
Boston College -3.5(-110)
@Northern Illinois +3.5(-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Boston College vs. Northern Illinois Pick:
Boston College will once again lean heavily on a strong defensive unit. In 2016 they ranked amongst the best teams in the nation. The Eagles finished 8th in the country, allowing just 311 yards per game. As you can imagine, if BC had a capable offense, it’d help the defense out even more. They were particularly impressive against the run, with just 106.9 yards allowed per game rushing.
If Northern Illinois wants to ease their quarterback in this season, it’s going to be difficult to run the ball and take the weight off either Ryan Graham or Daniel Santacaterina. Graham threw for 8 touchdowns and 6 interceptions in 2016, while Santacaterina had just 1 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.
Northern Illinois is completely revamping its defense, especially up front. They have question marks along the defensive line and linebacker position. The linebackers will all be entirely new, while the defensive line is under a stage of transition as well. They have some returning players in the secondary, but the guys up front will have to help generate a pass rush occasionally. Boston College will avoid going into the secondary, and pound the ball frequently in this one.
For the Eagles, they get standout defensive end Harold Landry back. He led the country in sacks with 16.5 and could have easily opted to go to the NFL. If this team could just find some offense they’d be better than fine. They might have it in a year, but I think they will struggle again in 2017. This should be a slug it out, low-scoring competition between Boston College and Northern Illinois. BC will not attack the strength of the Huskies, which is the secondary. Conversely, there isn’t much experience at quarterback on either side in this matchup. Expect plenty of clock churning plays called in this one. I’d take a look at the UNDER on Friday night.
PICK: UNDER 51 (-110)