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USC vs Boston College Week 3 Preview

The Boston College Eagles will welcome the University of Southern California Trojans across country, and will try to avenge their 35-7 loss in California a season ago. Second-year head coach Steve Addazio is hoping that his team can take the next step in their progression and perhaps be more competitive against USC this year.

The Eagles have begun the season with a lopsided victory over in-state rival Massachusetts and a narrow in-conference loss to Pitt. They will play non-conference games for the rest of September, but this game may be the biggest test of their entire season.

USC vs Boston College Week 3 Preview


Boston College has greatly improved their quarterback position with the addition of the Florida Gator transfer Tyler Murphy. Murphy has given the Eagles their first true dual-threat playmaker at the position. This gives them a new dimension to their offense and another way to move the chains. Murphy doesn’t have tremendous arm strength, but he has some big-game experience after starting against LSU, Missouri, and Georgia a season ago. He is a big upgrade for BC under center.

Southern California has a pretty good quarterback as well. Junior Cody Kessler was given the reigns of the offense in 2013 and completed 65% of his passes for nearly 3,000 yards and 20 touchdowns. He seemed to grow up as the weeks went on and comes into this season poised, experienced, and ready to lead USC to a potential conference championship. Kessler has competed 40-of-59 for 529 yards and 4 touchdowns through two games this year, including against a tough opponent in Stanford a week ago. Boston College’s defense is good, but not to the level of Stanford. While Murphy will be seeing the most talented defense he will face all season, Kessler will not. That, along with his physical tools, give USC the advantage at the position.

ADVANTAGE: Southern Cal



Boston College is trying to do the seemingly impossible in replacing 2,000 yard rusher Andre Williams. They are committed to the ground game, but losing a talented back like that is always a big blow. Tyler Rouse and Myles Willis have seen the bulk of the carries, along with quarterback Tyler Murphy. Murphy is the Eagles’ current leading rusher, and that must change in order for this team to have success. Rouse is averaging 4.0 yards a carry and will need to expand his role for this club.

For Southern Cal, Javorius Allen is their stud back, and he’s coming off a career- high 154 yards against a very stout Stanford defense. He has already carried the ball 45 times in two weeks for 287 yards and a score. He should see bigger holes rushing against this Boston College defense. Justin Davis has carried the ball 20 times in substitute work but is averaging only 2.5 yards a carry. Allen is USC’s only real threat at the position, but he still gives the Trojans a narrow advantage.

ADVANTAGE: Southern Cal



Southern Cal has done a good job of distributing the ball, with ten different players catching passes through the first two games. Nelson Agholor has been the most productive, with 14 catches for 148 yards and two touchdowns. JuJu Smith has been a big-play guy, catching five balls for 121 yards (just over 24 yards per reception). Boston College will have to key in on these two guys if they are going to slow the USC passing game.

The Eagles are still waiting for someone to emerge as their leading target, but they have gotten solid production from Josh Bordner, Shakim Phillips, Dan Crimmins, and Charlie Callinan. They don’t have the explosive speed and separation ability of the Southern Cal receivers, but they can still get open and move the chains for Tyler Murphy.

ADVANTAGE: Southern Cal



Boston College has their strength in the middle of their offensive line at the center and guard positions. They are breaking in new tackles who will face their biggest challenge against the USC front seven. Southern Cal is also breaking in two new starters; theirs are both on the right side of the line and may provide a spot for BC to try to attack on defense.




Southern California’s front seven is coming off a phenomenal game against Stanford, led by defensive end Leonard Williams, where they only gave up 128 yards rushing and were putting pressure on Kevin Hogan all day. They could make it a long day for Tyler Murphy, but he does have the ability to escape the pocket. They will have to keep him contained and make sure he doesn’t break loose.

Boston College is breaking in an almost entirely new front seven and will be at a huge disadvantage going against the USC offensive line. They could be exposed with the run, or this could be the kind of game where they showcase their abilities and put themselves on the national stage. I am going with the former.

ADVANTAGE: Southern Cal



It’s pretty clear that USC has the advantage here as well. Even with the loss of veteran cornerback Josh Shaw, the Trojans have stayed above water and are making it very difficult to move the ball against them. Kevon Seymour, Su’a Cravens, Leon McQuay III, and company are coming off and excellent game against veteran Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan. Hogan passed for 285 yards but never found the end zone. USC will hope to play that bend-but-don’t-break defense against Murphy as well. Murphy doesn’t have the arm of Hogan, so the Trojan secondary will have to be ready for him to escape the pocket.

Boston College is loaded with experience in their secondary. Junior Bryce Jones and seniors Manuel Asprilla, Dominique Williams, and Sean Sylvia all saw significant playing time a season ago and have returned for 2014. They struggled with Pittsburgh wide receiver Tyler Boyd last week and will need to get that figured out before they welcome in Southern Cal’s explosive offense. The Eagles may have the experience edge, but USC’s group is simply more talented.




Boston College is breaking in new kickers and return men. They have played ok the first two weeks, but will need to step it up. Southern California has two very strong kickers in Andre Heidari and Kris Albarado. Albarado had four punts last week against Stanford, averaging 47.8 yards per punt. Meanwhile, Heidari was 2-for-2 on field goals and should be able to give USC points if they are unable to punch it in. The Trojans also have the edge with the more explosive return game. If BC doesn’t stay in their lanes and remember their assignments, USC can take any of the kickoffs back for touchdowns.



KEY MATCH-UP: Tyler Murphy vs the Trojan secondary.  The new BC quarterback has shown that he is a threat with both his arm and his legs. He went over 100 yards rushing in both games so far this season, though a late game sack against Pitt brought him back down in the 90’s. He is still coming along as a passer and will not be able to afford any mistakes in this one. The Trojans should be fast enough and athletic enough to contain Murphy’s rushing ability, the big question will be if he can keep the Eagles in the game with his arm.

OVERALL ADVANTAGE: TROJANS. I expect USC to make the cross country trip and beat Boston College pretty handily. The reduction in scholarships took its toll for a couple of years, but USC has top level talent at almost every starter position yet again. They still lack depth, but should have enough to get past an offensively challenged BC team.


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