Sports, Football, Fall

Preview: Eagles Look to Clinch Bowl Eligibility With Win Over Syracuse

While making the ACC Championship is still a possibility for Boston College football, it would require multiple other results to go the Eagles’ way, such as Louisville losing at least two more games. Making a bowl game, however, is firmly within BC’s control. A win this week against Syracuse in Week 10 would put BC at six wins, making it eligible for the postseason for the first time since 2021.  

Last Saturday, BC won a closer-than-expected game against Connecticut, winning 21–14. Despite dominating the stat sheet, a missed field goal and two Thomas Castellanos turnovers kept the Huskies within reach. 

But the Eagles have a quick turnaround this week as they head to the JMA Wireless Dome to take on 4–4 Syracuse. The Orange is on a four-game losing streak and is still looking for its first ACC win this season. The Orange, however, previously played a gauntlet of programs in its first four conference matchups—Clemson, No. 14 North Carolina, No. 4 Florida State, and Virginia Tech.

Who is BC Playing?


When is BC Playing?

Friday, Nov. 3, 7:30 p.m.

Where is BC Playing?

JMA Wireless Dome, Syracuse, N.Y.

How to Watch

The game will air on ESPN2 and  BC Sports Network from Learfield on WEEI 93.7 FM/850 AM.  

Series History:

BC and Syracuse have faced each other 56 times, with the Orange having the edge in the all-time series 34–22. The Eagles have struggled in this matchup on the road, with a record of 9–21. And BC is currently on a two-game losing streak against the Orange, falling to Syracuse 32–23 last season in Alumni Stadium.

What To Expect From Syracuse’s Offense:

Syracuse’s offense has looked dormant since the start of conference play, scoring a combined 23 points in its last three games. The Orange rank at No. 79 in the country in total offense, averaging 366.4 yards per game. Syracuse averages just 5.57 yards per play.

Quarterback Garrett Shrader is the focal point of Syracuse’s offense. The fifth-year senior has led the Orange for three seasons since transferring from Mississippi State and has passed for 1,508 yards so far this year. Shrader is accurate in the short and intermediate game, but lacks elite arm strength and often holds on to the ball for too long. 

He can, however, do some damage on the ground with his legs, and he receives quite a few designed carries each game. He already has 316 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns on the season. 

Damien Alford and Umari Hatcher lead the Orange in receiving, with 389 and 356 yards, respectively. Both Alford and Hatcher have great size, standing at 6-foot-6 and 6-foot-3, respectively, and both have proven to be able to make contested catches. 

The season-ending foot injury to tight end Oronde Gadsden II is a major reason why Syracuse’s passing offense is just 76th in the country. The Orange’s offensive line has given up 27 sacks already this season. And while the pass protection could definitely be better, Shrader’s tendency to hold onto the ball too long has contributed to some of the sacks.

Running back LeQuint Allen leads the Orange in rushing, with 120 carries for 553 yards and seven touchdowns. The combination of Allen and Shrader in the running game can be potent, but struggled last week against Virginia Tech, as the two combined for zero net rushing yards.

What To Expect From Syracuse’s Defense:

Syracuse’s defense has looked shaky under new defensive coordinator Rocky Long. The Orange ranks 94th in total defense and has allowed over 30 points in its last four games. In its last game, the Orange allowed 38 points to Virginia Tech and could have easily given up more if the game didn’t get out of hand so quickly.

Syracuse gives up an average of 285 passing yards per game. Its defensive unit has registered six interceptions, and linebacker Marlowe Wax leads the team in total tackles with 67. Defensive back Justin Barron is second with 60. Each provides support in the run game despite the struggles of the defensive line.

The Orange has regressed in coverage since losing cornerback Garrett Williams to the NFL and is prone to giving up big plays. But Syracuse’s secondary has proven to be a strong point of its defense.

Run defense is a bigger problem for Syracuse, as the Orange gives up 149.1 rushing yards per game on average. Syracuse’s defensive line got little push against Virginia Tech as the Hokies rushed for six yards per carry. 

While Syracuse’s defensive line might struggle to stop the run, it can rush the passer very effectively. Syracuse has 22 sacks on the year and blitzes very often. Wax leads the team with four sacks this season.


Although Syracuse has looked vulnerable in its last four games, its matchup against BC should be a close one. BC struggles to put teams away—last week’s game against UConn being the latest example—and Syracuse can’t afford to go on a five-game losing streak.

BC should be able to control the game on offense, with the biggest mismatch in the game being the Eagles’ No. 10 rushing offense in the FBS against the No. 76 Orange rushing defense. If Castellanos can keep the safeties honest with a few deep balls, BC should be able to run the ball effectively through both Castellanos and running backs Kye Robichaux and Alex Broome. 

The Eagles’ defense should have a more difficult time stopping Syracuse’s offense than it did against UConn. If it can get a few stops early and force Shrader to start dropping back, BC can create turnovers and negative-yardage plays to put its offense in a better position to succeed. If the Eagles manage play up to their potential on both sides of the ball, they should leave Syracuse with bowl eligibility.

November 3, 2023