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Behind the rapid improvement at Boston College

As Boston College looks ahead to a critical ACC Atlantic matchup Nov. 11 against NC State in Chestnut Hill, it can be safely said that the Eagles have resurrected their season.

With an impressive three-game win streak over Louisville, Virginia, and Florida State, the Eagles are a win away from a fourth bowl in six years under Steve Addazio. How have they done it?

 

Run baby, run

There are noticeable trends in the stats of BC’s three latest wins. Notably, the Eagles have gone all-in on their power running game. They’ve been improving each week in time of possession. They’ve been relentless defensively on third downs. They’ve been stingy defending the run, particularly against UVa and Florida State. They also continue to be one of the more disciplined and least-penalized teams in the ACC.

After running 59 times for a whopping 364 rushing yards against Louisville, BC ran the ball 47 times against Virginia, and 55 times against Florida State. Remarkably, they didn’t lose one fumble. In fact, BC committed only one turnover in the three wins over Louisville, Virginia, and Florida State, while the defense produced five interceptions. BC was only penalized once for 10 yards in both the Louisville and Florida State games.

After barely winning time of possession against Louisville (30:30 to 29:30), BC dominated both UVa (33:35 to 26:25) and FSU (34:15 to 24:45) in this key category. The Eagles failed to throw for 200 yards in all three wins over Louisville, UVA, and Florida State. But it didn’t matter. By controlling the clock and wearing down the opposition with their running game, the Eagles were able to control tempo and dictate the flow in those games.

 

Third down’s the charm

Defensively, Boston College held Louisville, Virginia, and Florida State to a combined 16-of-45 on third down. And while Louisville had success running against the Eagles with 293 rushing yards, neither UVa nor FSU could get the ground game going. BC held Virginia to 95 rushing yards and a 3.7 net average, while holding Florida State to 64 rushing yards and a 2.2 net average.

After getting off to a dismal 2-4 start Boston College was facing a losing season, and the noose was getting tight around Addazio’s neck. But in hindsight, all BC’s early-season schedule did was get them ready for their mid and late-October surge.

The Eagles played one of America’s truly brutal schedules early on, with games against the likes of Notre Dame, Clemson, and Virginia Tech in the first half of the season. Although they weren’t very competitive against the Irish, Tigers, and Hokies, they took advantage of this early seasoning.

The Eagles are running on all cylinders at the perfect time. And while they’re not in position to challenge for an ACC title, they do have a chance to have Boston College’s best season of the Addazio era.

 

Read more: Did Steve Addazio save his job over the past two weeks?