After a bye in Week 7, the Deacs are back in Winston Salem in Week 8 to take on the Boston College Eagles in a rivalry that has been very even over the last 2 decades. Since 2003, Wake Forest is 9-9 against the Eagles, with just 36 total points separating the two teams over 18 games—12 of those games were decided by single digits. The series has seen some fantastic moments lately, such as Wake Forest winning the Atlantic Division for the second time in school history, or Wake Forest winning 3-0 in a goal line stand at the buzzer. For the most part, when these two teams get together, an exciting, competitive football games in not far behind.
- Opponent: Boston College
- Date: Saturday, October 22nd, 2022
- Location: Truist Field | Winston Salem, NC
- Vegas Insider Total Wins: 6.5
- 2021 Record: 6-6
- Previous Matchup: Wake 41—BC 10 (2021)
- All time vs Wake Forest: 14-12
Despite starting 4-0 last season, the Eagles had a pretty rough start to the year. After beating UMass 45-28 in the second week of the season, starting QB Phil Jurkovec had surgery on his hand and missed the next 6 games. Even when he came back to play towards the end of the season, it was pretty clear that he wasn’t fully ready to go. In the final 4 games of the season, Jurkovec completed just 33 of his 68 passes for 4 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. Part of that stretch was the game against Wake Forest, where he finished 3-11 for 19 yards, 1 touchdown, and 2 interceptions. Even though he clearly was not 100% after the injury, he still managed to go 2-2 in that stretch to get the Eagles to 6 wins for a third straight season.
When the starting QB goes down, the offense is pretty obviously going to be significantly impacted. In 2020, the Eagles were a pretty balanced team, passing the ball on about 52% of their plays. In 2021, that changed drastically, and the Eagles became a team that ran the ball almost 61% of the time. That is not surprising, since Boston College’s starting QB went from a 4-star recruit with a lot of draft buzz to a one-time preferred walk-on who didn’t even complete 50% of his passes in his 1 season as the starter. The end result was an offense that was dead last in the ACC with 350 yards per game and 11th in scoring with 24.7 points per game. Just to hammer home how big of 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 that BC will be back to an even run-pass split and will be able to move the ball significantly better than they did last season.
Outside of Jurkovec, the biggest threat for the BC offense is senior receiver Zay Flowers. Flowers definitely has a case for being the best receiver in the ACC—the senior was voted to the preseason All-ACC 1st team and is on the Biletnikoff Award Watch List for the 2022 season. Despite the QB issues for the Eagles last season, Flowers still caught 44 passes for 746 yards and 5 touchdowns, giving him almost 2,000 yards and 17 touchdowns over his 3-year career. Though he may be considered undersized at 5-10, he makes up for it with elite speed and athleticism, making him an absolute nightmare to tackle in the open field. Because of that, I expect frequent screen passes to Flowers to spread the defense out and set up the inside running game with Pat Garwo III, who rushed for over 1,000 yards last season. There is a good chance that both Jurkovec and Flowers could be 1st round picks in next year’s NFL draft.
On defense, the Eagles statistically were one of the better teams in the nation 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 fewer, including Clemson, Syracuse, and Virginia Tech. That being said, those numbers were helped pretty heavily by their pivot to a run heavy offense, as the BC defense was only on the field for about 63 plays per game last season (15th lowest). The Deacs didn’t seem to have any trouble moving the ball on the Eagles, racking up 413 yards and 41 points in last year’s matchup. Some of that can be attributed to the offense just doing nothing for most of the game—10 of their 12 drives ended without a single first down and 3 ended with turnovers. Marcus Valdez is a guy to keep an eye on—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 in Jurkovec and Flowers, but I’m not really sure they have much else on the offensive side of things. I don’t really think the two of them by themselves are going to be able to keep up with Wake’s scoring. Plus, the Deacs are at home, which should give them a significant advantage. I’m penciling this one is as a win.