Sports, Football, Fall

Preview: BC Hosts No. 5 Clemson in Red Bandanna Game

The significance of the Red Bandanna symbol is ingrained into life at Boston College. Students, faculty, and community members can be seen walking around campus with Red Bandannas tied to their backpacks or wearing sweatshirts decorated with Red Bandanna print.

The annual Red Bandanna Game, played by BC football in honor of Welles Crowther, who saved as many as 18 lives during the Sept. 11 attacks, has become a staple event on the Heights. This year, the Red Bandanna Game comes against BC’s toughest ACC opponent yet: No. 5 Clemson.

BC comes in as a heavy underdog, but upset wins are far from anomalous in Red Bandanna Game history. The Eagles have withstood some early-season struggles this year, but last season’s heartbreak in Death Valley could be a motivator for the Eagles on Saturday.

Who is BC playing?

Clemson

When is BC playing?

Saturday, Oct. 8, 7:30 p.m.

Where is BC playing?

Alumni Stadium, Chestnut Hill, Mass.

How to watch:

The game will air on ABC and BC Sports Network on WEEI 93.7 FM/850 AM. 

Series history:

Clemson (5–0, 3–0 Atlantic Coast) leads the all-time series 20–9–2 against BC (2–3, 1–2), and the two teams have played every year since BC joined the ACC in 2005. BC took four out of the first six of their matchups as members of the same conference, but Clemson has won every game since. 

Eagles fans that were around last year likely remember the teams’ back-and-forth contest in 2021 that ended with BC quarterback Dennis Grosel fumbling a snap in the red zone while BC trailed by six with 49 seconds left. The Tigers also won by six points in their matchup against BC two years ago after BC led at halftime.

What to expect from Clemson:

Offense

In both of their last two games, the Tigers have had one thing remain constant on offense: quarterback DJ Uiagalelei. The five-star recruit has faced criticism since taking over for Trevor Lawrence full time last season. Though he struggled against BC last year and put up pedestrian numbers throughout the 2021 season, he is now playing up to the elite talent he displayed in high school. 

Uiagalelei has already thrown more touchdowns (11) than he did last season (9) and he’s only thrown one interception, another area he struggled in one year ago. He started in place of Lawrence against BC in 2020 because the now-Jaguars quarterback was out due to COVID-19, and his first start in college turned out to be one of his best to date. BC’s defensive backs will need to force Uiagalelei back to his old turnover-prone self in order to keep the Tigers in check.

Running back Kobe Pace scored a 59-yard touchdown last year against the Eagles that turned out to be a difference maker. Pace has seen a reduced role this year with another former five-star Will Shipley taking over as the Tigers’ first-string back. Shipley has rushed for seven touchdowns and averaged 6.3 yards per carry.

Clemson is known for constantly producing NFL talent at the wide receiver position, such as Pro Bowlers DeAndre Hopkins and Hunter Renfrow, but the Tigers don’t really have a true No. 1 target this season. A combination of Shipley, tight end Jake Briningstool, and wide receivers Joseph Ngata and Beaux Collins help Uiagalelei spread out the offense. 

Defense

Clemson’s defense is loaded with talent. PFF’s latest mock draft has defensive tackle Bryan Bresee, defensive end Myles Murphy, and linebacker Trenton Simpson all going in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft. Clemson allows the second-fewest rushing yards per game in the country. Conversely, BC has rushed for the sixth-fewest total yards this season. Quarterback Phil Jurkovec will need to have success through the air for BC to succeed on offense because the numbers certainly don’t favor the Eagles on the ground. 

Clemson’s pass defense is not what it used to be without players such as Trayvon Mullen and AJ Terrell, who terrorized opposing quarterbacks in years past. Two weeks ago, Sam Hartman had a show-stopping performance against the Tigers, throwing for 337 yards, six touchdowns, and zero interceptions. Even 1–3 Louisiana Tech managed to pass for over 300 yards against the once-vaunted Tigers secondary. Clemson’s lack of corner talent should allow star wide receiver Zay Flowers to secure some favorable matchups when he’s lined up outside, which Jurkovec will likely look to exploit early and often.

Outlook:

The odds are slim for BC to come out on top and break its losing streak against the Tigers. But few expected BC to beat Louisville, and the Eagles prevailed last week. BC matches up well against Clemson in a few ways that could make this a trap game for the Tigers as they travel up north to cold weather for the first time. 

October 6, 2022
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