Boston College vs. Virginia Odds & Picks: Should the Eagles Really Be Favorites in Charlottesville?
Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images. Pictured: Nick Jackson.
- Boston College goes for its eighth win under first-year coach Jeff Hafley with Phil Jurkovec thriving under center.
- Virginia will bring its run-heavy offense to the table on Saturday, led by Wayne Taulapapa.
- BJ Cunningham explains how he’s betting this game and why he sees value on BC as road dogs.
Boston College vs. Virginia Odds
|Boston College Odds||+4 [BET NOW]|
|Virginia Odds||-4 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||+140 / -175 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||55 [BET NOW]|
|Time||Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET|
Jeff Hafley’s first season in charge of Boston College has been a legitimate success. The Eagles are 7-4 on the season with all four losses coming against ranked opposition.
The Virginia Cavaliers (4-4) have been the definition of average in Bronco Mendenhall’s fifth season. The Cavs are in a look-ahead spot with a game against in-state rival Virginia Tech next Saturday, but the Hoos will need to take the Eagles seriously if they want to finish the season above .500.
Boston College Eagles
The days of Boston College’s ground-and-pound attack are long gone. The Eagles brought four of their five starters back on the offensive line but have run the ball for only 3.3 yards per attempt this season.
Instead, BC is now finding success through the air with Notre Dame transfer Phil Jurkovec. Jurkovec has thrown for 7.6 yards per attempt and has developed a nice connection with wide receiver Zay Flowers and tight end Hunter Long, as the two have combined for 97 catches, 1,288 yards, and 11 touchdowns this season. Jurkovec was banged up in BC’s last game, but he is probable for Saturday.
— Sports Insights (@SportsInsights) December 2, 2020
Virginia has struggled to defend the pass this season, so I expect Jurkovec will be able to throw the ball all over the yard in Charlottesville.
Jeff Hafley was brought over to improve the Eagles’ defense, but so far that has not been the case. Boston College is allowing 5.7 yards per play and ranks 106th in Defensive Success Rate, per College Football Data.
Boston College’s defense has particularly struggled against the run, allowing 4.6 yards per attempt and ranking 110th in Defensive Rushing Success. Virginia’s ground game grades out as average, so Boston College will need to improve if they are going to hold the Cavaliers in check.
The Eagles’ struggles aren’t limited to stopping the run. They have also been poor against the pass. The Eagles allow 7.5 yards per pass attempt and rank in the bottom half in Passing Success Rate and explosiveness allowed.
The good news is they will be facing one of the worst passing offenses in the ACC.
If you throw out his last game versus FCS opponent Abilene Christian, Brennan Armstrong is only throwing the ball for 6.9 yards per pass attempt. The problem is Armstrong’s top two targets from last year are gone, though he’s found a nice connection with Billy Kemp, who already has 52 catches on the season.
The ground game is the strength of Virginia’s offense. Mendenhall is running a similar style of offense to the one he used at BYU when Taysom Hill was the quarterback, so it’s not surprising that Armstrong is the team’s top rusher. Wayne Taulapapa has been a solid No. 1 running back, as he’s averaging 4.5 yards per attempt.
Boston College’s weakness on defense is against the run, so I expect Mendenhall to pound the rock all afternoon long.
The Cavaliers have done a solid job of stopping the run this season. Virginia is allowing only allowing 3.9 yards per carry and ranks 19th in Defensive Rushing Success, per College Football Data. That will come in handy against Boston College’s run struggles.
However, Virginia’s secondary is allowing a whopping 9.7 yards per pass attempt on the season and 11.7 YPA over its last three ACC contests. It’s no surprise that Virginia’s defense struggles to contain big plays, as it ranks 109th in passing explosiveness allowed.
To make matters worse, both of its starting safeties are questionable for Saturday, so Virginia is going to have a tough time keeping Jurkovec in check on Saturday.
Betting Analysis & Pick
I think Boston College’s passing attack has a huge advantage in this game, especially since Jurkovec is probable. The Eagles defense will need to step up and stop Armstrong and the rushing attack, but it should be up to the task against Virginia’s average rushing attack.
I have Boston College projected at -2.86 favorites on the road, so I think there’s value on the Eagles at +4.
Pick: Boston College +4 (down to +2).