5 QUES­TIONS FOR CLEM­SON VS. BC

The State - - Front Page - BY MATT CON­NOLLY mcon­nolly@thes­tate.com

Are the Ea­gles ready for their time in the spot­light? Is AJ Dil­lon healthy? There is a lot to an­swer ahead of Satur­day’s game.

No. 2 Clem­son (9-0, 6-0 ACC) will play at No. 17 Bos­ton Col­lege ( 7-2, 4-1) on Satur­day at 8 p.m. in a game that will be tele­vised by ABC.

Here are our top five ques­tions head­ing into the game:

IS BOS­TON COL­LEGE READY FOR THE MO­MENT?

Satur­day’s top 20 show­down with Col­lege Game­Day in town is noth­ing new for Clem­son. The Tigers have played away from home with Col­lege Game­Day ap­pear­ing at the site four times since the start of last sea­son and are 4-0 in those matchups. Clem­son’s ros­ter is filled with vet­eran play­ers who have played in big games and ex­celled, while Bos­ton Col­lege is mak­ing a rare ap­pear­ance in the na­tional spot­light. It will be in­ter­est­ing to see how Steve Ad­dazio’s squad han­dles the pres­sure that comes with be­ing the mar­quee na­tional game with the ACC At­lantic on the line.

HOW HEALTHY IS AJ DIL­LON?

The Bos­ton Col­lege star run­ning back and ACC Pre­sea­son Player of the Year has been lim­ited for most of the sea­son with an an­kle in­jury. Ad­dazio said ear­lier this week that Dil­lon “is a day-to-day guy. He’s done a fab­u­lous job of man­ag­ing his in­jury, and we just kind of get through the week; and each week we hope we gain on it a lit­tle bit.” Clem­son coach Dabo Swin­ney ex­pects Dil­lon to play and be tough to han­dle, as he has been when he has played this year. The sopho­more is No. 4 na­tion­ally in yards per game with 128. He has played in seven of BC’s nines games. “He’ll play,” Swin­ney said. “He has some nice plays, some tough yards. He does some of the stuff where you may not go ‘Wow.’ But he’s pound­ing peo­ple. He’s a sledge­ham­mer in there. I don’t doubt that he’ll be ready to go.” If Dil­lon is lim­ited, it will se­verely hurt BC’s quest for an up­set.

WHICH AN­THONY BROWNWILL SHOW UP?

Bos­ton Col­lege’s quar­ter­back looked like an All-Amer­i­can against Wake For­est when he passed for more than 300 yards and five touch­downs in a 41-34 vic­tory, but he was aw­ful the fol­low­ing week against Pur­due, fin­ish­ing with 96 pass­ing yards and four in­ter­cep­tions in a 30-13 loss. Clem­son leads the na­tion in yards per rush al­lowed, giv­ing up 2.2 yards per carry. The Tigers will stuff the box and try to make Brown beat them with his arm. The sopho­more has been a game man­ager this year, throw­ing for one touch­down in each of the past four games. If the Tigers can slow down Bos­ton Col­lege’s run game and make Brown have to make plays through the air, BC will need the Wake For­est ver­sion of Brown to show up and not the Pur­due one.

DOES BC HAVE THE ATH­LETES TO KEEP UP?

The Bos­ton Col­lege coach­ing staff has done a great job of de­vel­op­ing play­ers, which is why the Ea­gles are in a po­si­tion to con­tend for the ACC At­lantic ti­tle. With that said, there is a huge tal­ent gap in the ath­letes Clem­son re­cruits and the ones Bos­ton Col­lege re­cruits.

The Tigers have nu­mer­ous five-star prospects and have fin­ished in the top 20 in re­cruit­ing rank­ings each of the past four years. BC has fin­ished No. 71, No. 67, No. 78 and No. 60 dur­ing that time, ac­cord­ing to the 247Sports Com­pos­ite rank­ings. At some point in a game like this, over­all tal­ent could take over.

CAN CLEM­SON’S OF­FENSE BE SLOWED DOWN?

Over the past four games, all against ACC teams, Clem­son’s of­fense is av­er­ag­ing 60 points per game. Fresh­man quar­ter­back Trevor Lawrence has de­vel­oped great chem­istry with his re­ceivers, and the run­ning backs, led by Travis Eti­enne, have been im­pres­sive as well.

Clem­son’s of­fen­sive line has not al­lowed a sack in each of the past two games, and the Tigers rushed for 492 yards last week against Louisville. Bos­ton Col­lege ranks No. 7 in the ACC in rush­ing de­fense and No. 7 in the ACC in pass­ing de­fense and will have to have its best game of the year to have a chance to pull off the up­set.

Pre­dic­tion:

The Clem­son of­fense has had some slow starts this sea­son and play­ing on the road, at night, with a fresh­man quar­ter­back, it would not be a sur­prise to see that hap­pen again. Steve Ad­dazio’s team is phys­i­cal and men­tally tough and will be ready to give Clem­son a fight.

I ex­pect the Ea­gles to hang around for a half, but ul­ti­mately Clem­son has too many play­mak­ers and too much tal­ent on both sides of the ball. Clem­son pulls away late.

Pick: Clem­son 42, Bos­ton Col­lege 17

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