Eagles ready to soar as they begin ACC play

The numbers are impressive--two games, two wins by a combined score of 117-35.

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The competition---UMass and FCS opponent Holy Cross--are of the Cupcake U variety.

But when you are Boston College coach Steve Addazio and you have been treading water for five plus seasons to make Eagles' football relevant, you don't talk about style points.

Now in his sixth season at The Heights, Addazio has gotten the Eagles off to a quick 2-0 start twice before.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]

In 2013, Addazio's first at BC, the Eagles opened with solid, but unspectacular wins over Villanova and Wake Forest. BC then was beaten 35-7 by USC and 48-34 by FSU as it staggered to a 7-6 season.

In 2015, BC rolled over Maine and Howard, a pair of FCS schools (which was a scheduling mistake by then BC athletic director Brad Bates) by a combined score of 100-3. In the third game of the season, FSU posted a 14-0 win over the Eagles, who then went into the tank, losing their last 8 games in a 3-9 wipe out putting Addazio's future at BC in question.

This season looks different.

Aside from Clemson and Virginia Tech, BC looks like the Atlantic Coast Conference's best team--level of competition not withstanding.

On paper they have all the ingredients. A talented QB in Anthony Brown, who has made a nice comeback from a season-ending knee injury last November. They have a premier running back in AJ Dillion, who has Heisman potential stitched in his jersey. The sophomore running back, who decommitted from Michigan to come to BC, gained 1,589 yards a year ago and scored 14 TDs.

He has been used only sparingly in the wins over UMass and Holy Cross. In Saturday's 62-14 rout of the Cross, Dillon ran for 149 yards and scored 3 TDs in only 6 carries, a performance which made Dillon the ACC's Offensive Back of the Week.

The Eagles also have a veteran offensive line, a solid defense and an adequate kicking game, all crucial for success, which suggests this could be a breakout season for the Eagles.

But recess is over.

The Eagles begin their ACC play on Thursday night at Wake Forest, another road game at Purdue the following week will give us a more complete view of BC football in 2018.

"We're playing at a really high level,'' says Addazio, who knows the bar will be set higher against a young Wake Forest team which has won its first two games against Tulane and Towson, "I expect this to be a big time game for both teams.''

Dillon says the goals for the Eagles are short term and reasonable right now. ""The mind set right now is to be 1-0 (in the ACC) and 3-0,'' said Dillon. "Get our first conference win.''

Dillon says BC has not forgotten last season's game against Wake, a 34-10 home loss to the Deacons. ""Last year, Wake Forest came here and beat us,'' said Dillon. ""That obviously doesn't sit well with anybody on the team.''

Still, beating Wake and Purdue (which is 0-2) doesn't look like a climbing Everest challenge.

After that, the Eagles play an 0-2 Temple at home. So a 5-0 start seems reasonable.

There are even more positive signs. FSU has had two below average efforts including a last minute struggle to beat FCS opponent Samford (not Stanford) at home. Miami looked horrible in losing its opener against LSU, before bouncing back against Savannah State last week. And Louisville also looked beatable in being manhandled by Alabama, although considering how good Alabama is, that might be a misleading result. Even a home game against Miami in late October seems winnable.

What does seem clear is that BC is ready for a breakthrough season. Barring injuries or hurricanes (Hurricane Florence could affect Thursday night's game in Winston-Salem), the Eagles could really be the surprise team of the season.

Or they could fade back into the pack.

We will learn much more after Thursday.

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Pittsburgh coach Pat Narduzzi was far from happy with the way his team performed in a 51-6 rout by Penn State last week. "One of my former coaches that I have a lot of respect for texted me,'' said Narduzzi. "And he said that the sun will come out the next day.'' "And it did. It didn't come out and shine bright, I can tell you that, but it did get lighter out.''...Syracuse, which hosts a struggling FSU team, has scored 117 points in its two wins over Western Michigan and Wagner, which drew FSU coach Willie Taggart's attention. "We've got to be on our A game,'' said Taggart, who acknowledged the frustration of FSU's fans. ""Everybody is not going to be happy, when you just don't play the way everyone wants you to play.'''....Clemson beat Texas A&M 28-26 in a wild game on Saturday, but the highly touted Clemson defense allowed 430 yards passing, the most the Tigers have allowed in a game in five seasons.[/membership]

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