Massachusetts Minutemen vs. Boston College Eagles: A Way Too Early Non-Conference Preview

Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Spor

The Massachusetts Minutemen welcome the Boston College Eagles Week 1 to a stadium that's closer to the BC campus than the Minutemen's campus. The irony is not lost on anyone.

In 2014, the Massachusetts Minutemen will continue their transition into FBS (FPS? Football Playoff Subdivion? FPWBAS? Football Playoff With Bowls Also Subdivision?) under a different direction this year. The reigns to the team have been handed to Mark Whipple, who once took an under performing team to the heights of a FCS National Championship. The path to relevancy is much tougher this time, and the non-conference schedule will set the tone for the rest of the season. First up, long-time rival Boston College.

Boston College Eagles 2013 Rewind:

The Eagles' found themselves with a new coach and a new identity last year. Coming off a 2-10 season in 2012, BC replaced Head Coach Frank Spaziani with former Temple coach Steve Addazio. Addazio move from a passing attack to a rushing attack sparked instant results, and the Eagles found themselves back in a bowl game for the first time since 2010. Along the way, lead back Andre Williams finished 4th in Heisman Trophy voting, rushing for a school record 2,177 yards, and setting single game records for yards and touchdowns.

Mascot:

The Boston College Eagles mascot was once a live eagle, until they became an endangered species. Now a man in an bald eagle suit roams the sideline. No word yet if the man inside the suit is also bald.

Conference/Division:

Boston College plays in the ACC as of 2005. They've since been joined by Pittsburgh, Syracuse, and Louisville. All in all, there are 14 members of the ACC.

Last Bowl Appearance:

Boston College played in the prestigious AdvoCare V100 Bowl against Arizona, losing respectfully 42-19. AdvoCare is a multi-level marketing company that, in no way, can be confused with a pyramid scheme.

Head Coach:

Steve Addazio is in his second year as the Eagles' head coach. He hopes to continue to rush his way to victory.

Five Key Players:

Offense:

The Eagles offense is run, run, and run some more. They'll have a tougher time of it this year, though, as Andre Williams, one of the top backs in football last year, was drafted by the Giants. No one had more attempts or yards in college football last year rushing. Returning back Myles Willis is the next most experienced, but he had a mere 60 carries last year. Going for the Eagles are Willis' 5.8 yards per carry. If Willis should fail, Tyler Rouse is next in line.

The reliance on the run covered for the Eagles anemic passing attack, which averaged 154 yards per game passing last year, good for 112th in football. Making matters worse is their starting quarterback from 2013 left for the NFL. In his place will be Tyler Murphy, a transfer from Florida. Murphy is a mobile but injury prone quarterback. Since this is the first game of the season, one expects him to be healthy for the match-up.

At receiver, the Eagles find themselves lacking their best option from 2013 as well: Alex Amidon, who had back to back 1,000 yard seasons. No other wideout on the roster totaled more than 210 yards receiving.

Defense:

The Defense, like the offense, also has to deal with some key departures. While they find themselves much thinner with their front seven, though, they'll return all four starters in the secondary. Unfortunately, this is a group that rated in the back of the middle of the pack (78th), and their secondary was much weaker than their front. As a result, expect things to continue to trend downward for the Eagles defense.

Special Teams:

After four years, Nate Freese moved on from Boston College. Kicking in his place will be Alex Howell. Kickers are fickle creatures, so we'll see how he adjusts to the pressures of kicking the ACC. In the spring game, Myles Willis took one to the house, but if he's expected to carry the ball 300+ times, one can't expect him to also handle special teams returns.

Early Prediction:

Boston College most likely will regress from their 7-5 record, but that's to be expected when you lose a starting quarterback, 4th place Heisman finishing running back, number one receiving threat, and a host of other players. Unfortunately, the Minutemen are still the Minutemen. While they should be better this year, Minutemen were horrid against the run last year, which is BC's bread and butter. As much as I'd like to call a UMass win, the lingering question of who will be starting (early guess: A.J. Doyle), makes this a game that BC should win easily. BC over UMass 31-10.  We'll still beat them in basketball, though.

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