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Advanced Stat Preview: Boston College

Boston College is a good football team. They are gritty from the lines up, play solid defense, and run the ball.  They do not match up well with us. Running the ball 72% of the time on standard downs, 11th most in the country, isn’t going to cut it. Neither is running the ball quickly, ranking 4th in pace (adjusted for run-pass rate).  Clemson is a 20-point favorite for good reason.

Before we get more into Boston College, this game is all about Clemson playing to its standard. Do that and it will never be in doubt. We’re seeing spreads go up as the season progresses and we’re also seeing blowout after blowout. Now is a good time to see how Clemson has improved in key efficiency stats over the course of the season. The charts below show the rank entering the game. Keep in mind the ratings average performance over the course of the season, so performances in a game will need to be much better or worse as the season progresses to change the average.

Clemson Offense

The overall rating started at 9, popped up to 12 after the Syracuse game (QB drama/injury), and fell to 7 entering this week. Rushing and passing efficiency is much better. Standard down success rate remains excellent while third and long success rate dramatically improved. May I present Trevor Lawrence? Passing efficiency gets better each week, but it still has a way to go. Pass protection is also improving. I credit Lawrence handling the pocket better, OL gelling, and RBs improving pass blocking. Pass protection is a big team effort. We’re seeing dramatic improvement in efficiency measures while there is still another level for the offense to reach: scary.

Clemson Defense

We’re seeing the Texas A&M game average out and our secondary improve. Third and long conversions are still an issue. But with the limited number of third downs we see, it’s not the end of the word. It is unfortunate our secondary won’t be tested until the Playoff. Hopefully they are practicing well. Everything else is elite.

Boston College

AJ Dillon is an excellent running back, but their QB is average to below average (6.7 yards/att.; 57.9% completion rate). They involve their TE and RB in the passing game. TE Tommy Sweeney can block and catch, with 24 receptions on 36 targets for 230 yards. AJ Dillon can catch the ball, but they like to throw to RB Travis Levy. He has 18 targets to 40 carries and is fourth on the team in receiving yards (yeah, not a great passing team).

On defense, watch their DE’s. Zach Allen is 6’5” and 285 lbs. with 5.5 sacks and 12.5 TFL. An NFL team will draft him. Wyatt Ray is also disruptive with 9 sacks and 10.5 TFL. This is a very good DL. That said, S&P+ doesn’t think highly of their run defense, ranking it 62nd. It likes their passing defense much better, ranking it 22nd. However, teams are electing to throw. Standard downs pass rate is 46.1% vs. an average of 40.1%. That doesn’t sound like a big difference, but it makes opposing offenses some of the most pass-happy in FBS.

Bottom Line

Boston College will come out and punch us in the mouth, but Clemson playing to its standard should counter that mighty fast. Stop the run and Boston College will have a long night. Beat Boston College and secure the division. I expect the Tigers to be on point and make a statement in prime time.


S&P+ stats. CFBstats from prior week.

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