Northwestern Wildcats vs. Boston College Eagles
Saturday September 3, 12:00 PM EST
College Football Spread: Boston College -3 (-110) Northwestern +3 (-110)
Boston College and Northwestern both went to a bowl game last season, but both finished the year with a loss in that bowl game. The Eagles were taken down by Nevada, while Northwestern lost a shootout with Texas Tech. Both of these teams are being mentioned as teams that are flying under the radar that could be dangerous inside their respective conferences this season. Building momentum from the beginning of the year can be extremely important. Which team will get things started on the right note with a win?
The status of Dan Persa is still unknown, and Persa is absolutely invaluable to this Northwestern team. Persa is one of the best players in the nation, and without him under center the Wildcats simply aren’t very good. Persa tore his Achilles last year and he is still not 100 percent. He will probably be a game time decision. The Wildcats have some impressive weapons at wide receiver. Jeremy Ebert is one of the most reliable receivers in the Big Ten. Drake Dunsmore is a tight end that he NFL scouts love, and I expect a big year from him. Northwestern needs the offensive line to perform better, and they need a running back to step up and take some pressure off Persa. The Wildcats defense absolutely fell apart at the end of last season. Northwestern allowed a ridiculous 163 points in their final three games. The Wildcats are severely lacking in depth at the linebacker position. If this team is going to be a contender in the Big Ten, the defense must improve.
Boston College started slowly last year, but they finished the regular season with five straight wins. The offense held Boston College back a bit last year. Chase Retig enters the season as the starting quarterback for the Eagles. Retig showed signs of being a solid player, but he completed just 51 percent of his passes, a number that must improve in 2011. Montel Harris and Andre Williams should give Boston College one of the better tailback tandems in the ACC. Boston College won because of their very good defense last year, but they must replace quite a few key players from that unit. Mark Herzlich was a tremendous leader for the defense, but he is in the NFL now. The defensive line returns just one starter from last year, and they could very well see a drop in production. The linebackers are absolutely the strength of this defensive unit. Luke Kuechly led the country with 183 tackles last season (more than 14 per game), and I expect him to be tremendous again. Overall, this defense should be good, but they might not be quite as good as last season.
While the status of Persa is still unknown right now, I’m going to assume he plays the majority of this game. I really like the Wildcats chances if Persa does play. Boston College doesn’t have nearly as many play makers as the Wildcats do.
Free College Football Pick: Northwestern +3
Score Prediction: Northwestern 24 Boston College 20