After a bye in Week 7, the Deacs return to Winston Salem in Week 8 to face the Boston College Eagles in a very even rivalry over the past 2 decades. Since 2003, Wake Forest is 9-9 against the Eagles, with just 36 total points separating the two teams in 18 games – 12 of those games have been decided in the single digits. The series has had some fantastic moments lately, like Wake Forest winning the Atlantic Division for the second time in school history, or Wake Forest winning 3-0 on a goal line at the buzzer. For the most part, when these two teams come together, exciting and competitive football matches aren’t far behind.
- Opponent: Boston College
- When: Saturday, October 22, 2022
- Location: Truist Field | Winston Salem, North Carolina
- Total Vegas Insider Earnings: 6.5
- 2021 review: 6-6
- Previous match: Wake 41—BC 10 (2021)
- all time against WakeForest: 14-12
Despite starting 4-0 last season, the Eagles have had a pretty tough start to the year. After beating UMass 45-28 in the second week of the season, starting QB Phil Jurkovec had hand surgery and missed the next 6 games. Even when he returned to play towards the end of the season, it was pretty clear that he wasn’t quite ready to leave. In the last 4 games of the season, Jurkovec only completed 33 of 68 passes for 4 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. Part of that streak was the game against Wake Forest, where he went 3-11 for 19 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions. Although he clearly wasn’t 100% post-injury, he still managed to go 2-2 in that streak to take the Eagles to 6 wins for a third consecutive season.
When the starting QB goes down, the offense is obviously going to be significantly affected. In 2020, the Eagles were a pretty even team, passing the ball on about 52% of their plays. In 2021, that changed dramatically and the Eagles became a team that ran the ball nearly 61% of the time. That’s no surprise, since Boston College’s starting QB went from a 4-star rookie with a lot of draft to a one-time favorite who didn’t even complete 50% of his passes in his 1 season as a that leaving. . The end result was an offense that was last in the ACC at 350 yards per game and 11th in scoring at 24.7 ppg. Just to emphasize how big a factor Jurkovec is, Vegas Insider currently has him at the 5th best odds to be the #1 overall pick in the 2023 draft. With him healthy this season, I suspect the BC will be back to even passing and will be able to move the ball much better than they did last season.
Outside of Jurkovec, the biggest threat to BC’s offense is senior receiver Zay Flowers. Flowers definitely has what it takes to be the ACC’s top receiver – the senior was voted to the preseason All-ACC 1st Team and is on the Biletnikoff Awards watch list for the 2022 season. Despite QB issues for the Eagles last season, Flowers still caught 44 passes for 746 yards and 5 touchdowns, giving him nearly 2,000 yards and 17 touchdowns over his 3-year career. While he might be considered undersized at 5-10, he makes up for it with elite speed and athleticism, making him an absolute nightmare to face in the open field. Because of that, I expect frequent screen passes to Flowers to expand the defense and set up the inside running game with Pat Garwo III, who rushed for over 1,000 yards last season. Chances are Jurkovec and Flowers will be first-round picks in next year’s NFL Draft.
On defense, the Eagles were statistically one of the best teams in the country last season. BC was 31st in the nation with 22.2 points allowed per game and 28th in the nation with 349 yards allowed per game. They held 5 teams to 21 points or less, including Clemson, Syracuse and Virginia Tech. That being said, those numbers were largely helped by their pivot to heavy offense, as BC’s defense was only on the field about 63 plays per game last season (15th lowest). The Deacs seemed to have no trouble moving the ball over the Eagles, racking up 413 yards and 41 points in last year’s game. Part of that can be attributed to the offense doing nothing for most of the game – 10 of their 12 practices ended without a single first down and 3 ended with turnovers. Marcus Valdez is a guy to watch – the 6th year player finished last season with 27 tackles, 7 tackles for loss and 5 sacks after missing the first 3 games of the season.
The Eagles have a fantastic duo with Jurkovec and Flowers, but I’m not sure they have much else on the attacking side. I don’t really think the two of them will be able to keep up with Wake’s score. In addition, the Deacs are at home, which should give them a significant advantage. I draw this one as a victory.