Brian: BC's outside linebacker Mark Herzlich - shown here flying through the air (and you thought it was impossible! Pfft!) - was awarded ACC Defensive Player of the Year honors on Wednesday. The junior leads the team with 98 tackles, 6 interceptions and 2 touchdowns on the year. In yesterday's Globe article, Herzlich discusses his NFL draft prospects and whether he will return for his senior year. So, Jeff, what do you think? Is this Herzlich's last year wearing the maroon and gold, or can we expect him back in the linebacking corps next year dominating ACC offenses?
Jeff: While I have to admit it is a legitimate question after any junior wins an award such as conference defensive player of the year, I find it hard to believe that Herzlich will consider going to the NFL for long and fully expect him back next year. With James Lauranaitis not being predicted to be drafted until #23 I find it hard to imagine that Herzy would go any earlier than the third round. Meanwhile if he waits and lets the USC linebackers go and Lauranaitis go this year so that Herzlich can move towards the top of the draft board next year.
Brian: My gut reaction is that he comes back, but if he goes off in the next two games and wins BC an ACC Championship and a BCS bowl, I think this would be it for him. Much the way Nathan Gerbe went out on top, Herzlich's draft status would shoot up far enough that I think he would be playing on Sundays next fall. If he stays though, projected first rounder next year. Fo sho.
On to the title game this weekend. Previews abound. Tech Sideline.com, Eagle in Atlanta, Washington Times, Heather Dinich, and Hey Jenny Slater's Doug Gillett are all predicting a Boston College win. At the beginning of the season, neither one of us thought that the Eagles would be in position to win its first ACC football title, yet here we are. In fact, you predicted at the beginning of the season that Virginia Tech was going to win the ACC. Now the "mythical" preseason Hokies (No. 17 Preseason AP, No. 15 USA Today) are nothing like this year's version of the Hokies, so things have changed a bit. The Hokie offense ranks 100+ nationally. BC's offense isn't much better, but backup QB Dominique Davis has done just enough to manage the game and get BC two Ws. Prediction time, Jeff. How do you see this game going down?
Jeff: BC is going to win this game but it is going to be harder fought than the game in Chestnut Hill earlier this year. Chris Crane spotted Virginia Tech a touchdown almost immediately but BC dominated the game from then on and won fairly easily. Tomorrow I expect fewer turnovers from both sides and I certainly do not expect Gunnell to return another punt for a TD. Similar to last year's game where Glennon looked like a Heisman candidate, I expect someone from the Hokies to step up and give their offense some life and provide for an exciting game. I also think BC's streak of scoring TDs on defense will come to an end. BC will win and I'll go with 23-17 as a final score.
Brian: I like this matchup more than I have liked any of our other matchups in the ACC this year, maybe with the exception being Maryland and NC State. In our first meeting, we gave Taylor 110 yards on the ground, spotted the Hokies 14 points on offense and still came out on top. So long as we limit the yards on the ground from the Hokie backs and force Taylor to beat us through the air, I am OK if the Eagles give up another 100 yards to Taylor.
My only real fear here is that the Eagles jump out to a lead at halftime and let the Hokies back in this one in the second half. In our first meeting this year with Tech, we jumped out to a 28-17 lead at half and then didn't score in the second half. With the exception of Davis' game-winning drive in the Wake Forest game, BC hasn't scored an offensive touchdown in the second half of their last three games (vs. Maryland, at Wake Forest, at Florida State). I expect this game to go down to the wire, taking years off Eagles fans lives, but in the end, I expect BC to come out on top. BC scores three touchdowns in the first half, is up 21-10 at half, and hold on to win in Tampa. Boston College 21, Virginia Tech 20.
Jeff: Temple football head coach (and former Boston College linebacker coach) Al Golden has turned down an opportunity to pursue the head coaching vacancy at Syracuse. Brian, your thoughts?
Brian: Golden is building up a good Temple program, but, wow! Speechless. I mean, I'm sure other job offers will come along for Golden, but, wow. I think this speaks to how fall Syracuse has fallen off the national radar for football. Syracuse = worst BCS program of the decade? At least the Washingtons have finished with a winning record in the last seven years.
Brian: Since the ACC once again won this year's "made for ESPN" ACC/Big Ten challenge in basketball 6-5 (for the 10th straight year, I might add), HD stages a fake ACC/Big Ten challenge in football. While I agree the ACC would beat the Big Ten this year in football, I'm thinking 6-5 is a little conservative. Jeff, what's your final tally given these matchups?
Jeff: Regardless of who exactly plays who, Penn State and Ohio State are the only two teams likely to win matchups against any ACC team. Then Michigan State is the only other team with a legitimate chance to win their game, and maybe some other Big Ten teams pulls off an upset so I'll go with 8-3 in favor of the ACC.
Jeff: Matt Ryan has the Falcons at 8-4 and, if the season ended today, in position to take the last wild card spot from the Cowboys in the NFC. Do the Falcons make the playoffs?
Brian: With games remaining against New Orleans, Minnesota, Tampa Bay and St. Louis, the Falcons have the easiest remaining path in the NFC South. I'll predict that they go 3-1 down the stretch, finish 11-5 and make the playoffs!
Brian: While everyone likes to poke fun at BC for slow ticket sales to the ACCCG, it appears Virginia Tech isn't holding up its end of the bargain either. Looks like Hokie fans would rather travel to their bowl game than travel to Tampa this weekend. Doesn't that seem a little silly to save up a trip for a December visit to Nashville against a 6-6 SEC team?
Jeff: I wouldn't have been shocked if Virginia Tech brought fewer fans than last year given the fact that they have 4 losses going into this game but I am shocked that they sold a lot less tickets than last year. Going to Nashville, nor any other bowl game isn't as exciting as the ACC Championship Game will be.
Jeff: Blake Shelton is giving a free concert after the game tomorrow. Name a Blake Shelton song.
Brian: I got nothing. All the more reason to move this game to Charlotte ASAP. I think Petey Pablo might be available ... "North Carolina!!!!!!!!"
Brian: Last one, BC basketball this weekend. The Commonwealth Cup is up for grabs as BC tries to avenge last year's 83-80 loss to the Massachusetts Minutemen. Does BC get it done?
Jeff: BC will win.
Brian: This is our last set of picks for the season. We'll pick and preview all the bowl games later this month. Since I can't win (because we are both picking the Eagles to win), I'll concede victory to Jeff now. Congrats. Alright, enough of that. On to the picks ...
- Pittsburgh +3 at Connecticut
- Buffalo vs. Ball State -15
- Navy -11 at Army
- Boston College 0 vs. Virginia Tech
- Washington at California -36
- Missouri +17 vs. Oklahoma
- Alabama +10 vs. Florida
- South Florida at West Virginia -7.5
- Arizona State at Arizona -10.5
- Boston College 0 vs. Virginia Tech
Finally, here is Vincent's latest and greatest: the 2008 ACC championship game preview video. Get pumped!
Go Eagles! See you in Tampa!