Boston College at Wake Forest

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The second ACC game of the season kicks off Thursday night as Boston College and Wake Forest meet in a battle of Atlantic Division squads that both made bowl games last season.

Clemson is the clear favorite in the Atlantic but the rest of the division looks wide open as the opportunity to compete is there for both squads. The ACC is going to be heavily impacted by Hurricane Florence this weekend and this game has been moved up two hours.

Here is a look at the opening game of the next college football week.

Matchup: Boston College Eagles at Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Venue: BB&T Field in Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Time/TV: Thursday, Sep. 13, 5:30 PM ET ESPN
Line: Boston College -7, Over/Under 52½
Last Meeting: 2017, Wake Forest (PK) 34, at Boston College 10

Anthony Brown had a nice freshman season at quarterback for Boston College although he was injured late in the season and missed the final three games. His worst performance of the season wasn’t vs. Clemson or Notre Dame or any of the other formidable defenses in the ACC; it was a September contest at home vs. Wake Forest.

In his second game Brown completed just 38 percent of his passes and had three interceptions as Wake Forest won easily in Boston. The 4-0 turnover margin was the difference as the production numbers were similar but an interception returned for a touchdown just before halftime put Wake Forest up 21-7 at the break. Boston College scored a field goal to get back within 11 in the third quarter but another interception late in the third quarter set up the Demon Deacons at the 2-yard-line and that score put the game out of reach.

Brown had a big first game of 2018 in Boston College’s 55-21 win over Massachusetts with four touchdown passes but he played sparingly last week in the win over FCS Holy Cross as the Eagles rested starters early with a 21-0 edge in the first quarter. This year’s team has the potential to be the best Boston College offense since perhaps the Matt Ryan years with almost everyone back from last season for Steve Addazio.

Addazio is now 33-33 at Boston College with four 7-6 campaigns and one tough season in 2015. The Eagles are poised to take a step further this season and could even contend in the Atlantic with Clemson visiting Boston in November. Tricky non-conference games at Purdue and home vs. Temple are next on the schedule and the Eagles do have a tough Coastal draw pulling both Miami and Virginia Tech however.

For Wake Forest Dave Clawson has delivered back-to-back winning seasons after going just 6-18 in his first two seasons, taking over after building a successful program at Bowling Green. Wake Forest won eight games last season for the program’s best record since 2008 and the Demon Deacons are off to a 2-0 start this season. Wake Forest survived an overtime game at Tulane in an opening week Thursday night while besting FCS Towson 51-20 last week.

The quarterback situation has revolved for Wake Forest after the graduation of John Wolford who was a very efficient 3,000 yard passer last season. Junior Kendall Hinton played in five games last season and was the expected starter but he was suspended for the first three games of the season. Sophomore Jamie Newman appeared to be in the mix but he was injured in August. Freshman Sam Hartman has started the first two games and has been effective with 620 passing yards, though he has three interceptions and a fumble already.

The Wake Forest defense has offered some reason for concern as Towson posted 410 yards last week though Wake Forest was able to pull away in the second quarter thanks to a pair of punt return touchdowns from Greg Dortch. The sophomore is on pace to being one of the top receivers in the ACC this season after leading the team in receptions last year. Wake Forest allowed more than 450 yards per game in ACC play last season as this is a team that is going to need to score to pick up wins in conference play.

Boston College allowed just 22 points per game in ACC play last season but they surrendered 386 yards per game as there was some good fortune in the lower scoring numbers. The defense has looked the part this season but as the schedule stiffens there could be challenges with a few key players from last season absent.

The stakes are high for both teams as getting to a 3-0 start would provide a great boost towards bowl hopes. It may be a more critical game for Wake Forest who is in the midst of a five-game home stand but has games vs. Notre Dame and Clemson as a loss here would mean a 3-3 start is likely heading into a road-heavy second half of the schedule.

Winston-Salem is significantly inland but appears to be right on the projected path of the hurricane which is expected to make landfall on Friday. Significant rain is not expected at game time Thursday evening but it will be humid and winds could be in the 20-25 MPH range as the passing and kicking games could face some impact. It is also might mean a subdued home field edge for Wake Forest in what might normally be one of the biggest home dates of the season with a national TV night game.

Wake Forest has covered in nine of 15 meetings since 2003 but has lost S/U in the past two home meetings in 2014 and 2016. The 34 points scored by the Demon Deacons last season was the most they have scored in those 15 meetings while Boston College hasn’t topped 27 points in any of the past 10 games in this series.

Historical Trends:

-- Wake Forest is on a 25-14 ATS run as a home underdog since 2004, going 2-0 last season including an outright upset over Louisville.

-- Since Clawson took over in 2014, Wake Forest is 9-4 ATS as a home underdog although just 3-4 ATS as a home underdog of fewer than 10 points.

-- Boston College is 22-30 ATS since 1994 as a road favorite including going 7-2 S/U but 4-5 ATS under Addazio since 2013.

-- Boston College is 1-3 ATS in that time as a road favorite vs. current ACC teams with this line being the highest ACC road favorite spread for Boston College since a 23-17 win in Winston-Salem in 2014 as a 13-point favorite.