FACTS & STATS: Site: Ryan Field (47,130) -- Evanston, Illinois. Television: Big Ten Network. Home Record: Boston College 1-1, Northwestern 1-0. Away Record: Boston College 0-0, Northwestern 1-0. Neutral Record: Boston College 0-0, Northwestern 0-0. Conference Record: Boston College 0-1, Northwestern 0-0. Series Record: Northwestern leads 3-1.
GAME NOTES: The Northwestern Wildcats will try to remain perfect when they host the Boston College Eagles, who will look for their first win against FBS competition this season, at Ryan Field on Saturday.
It was an all-New England affair in Boston College's second game of the season with the Eagles facing off against Maine of the FCS. AFter a sluggish start the Eagles turned it on in the last three quarters and posted a dominant 34-3 victory. The win came on the heels of a 41-32 loss to conference rival Miami-Florida. The three points the Eagles allowed were the first points BC has allowed to the Black Bears since 1915. In the previous four matchups the Eagles had outscored Maine 154-3.
In the first two weeks of the season Northwestern has made a pair of statement wins. First the Wildcats won a shootout in the Carrier Dome against a seemingly improved Syracuse squad and then took down Vanderbilt of the SEC 23-13 in the second weekend. The Wildcats have now started the season 2-0 in each of the last five seasons. The win also keeps head coach Pat Fitzgerald's record in home openers perfect (7-0).
This wil be the second time in as many years that these two squads meet. Las season Northwestern came out on top with a 24-17 victory in Chestnut Hill. The win pushed the Wildcats' all-time edge in the series to 3-1.
Scoring really hasn't been a big problem for Boston College in the first two weeks of the season with the Eagles averaging a respectable 33.0 points per game. The team's overall average of 461 yards-per-game is also right near the middle of the ACC. In fact that number was higher after week one with the Eagles only needing 385 total yards against Maine.
Chase Retting may finally be turning into the quarterback the Eagles need this season, although through only two games that's tough to say. In his second season as the starter Rettig has completed only 57.8 percent of his passes but has five touchdowns to just one interception and currently leads the ACC in passing yards (660). The junior threw three scores in the win over Maine including two in a span of 1:37 in the second quarter. Rettig now needs to convert the success of the first two games consistently.
On the ground the Eagles gained 166 total yards led by the combination of Rolandan Finch and Andre Williams who combined for 141 yards on 31 carries. Finch was the leader on the day with 90 yards on 17 carries, both team highs. On the receiving end Alex Amidon had a strong day catching six balls for a game high 99 yards including a touchdown.
Boston College's defense really improved from week one to week two but that also included a drop in the level of competition. Against last week's FCS opponent the Eagles allowed just 193 total yards on offense and to a 3 for-18 conversion rate on third down. The team did so without creating much pressure with no sacks in the game but the unit did hold the Black Bears to only 59 yards on 31 rushing attempts. The Eagles also nabbed two interceptions in the game.
Nick Clancy was the leader on defense for the Eagles with 11 total tackles and three pass breakups which were both team-highs. In fact Clancy's tackle total was more than twice that of any other player on the squad.
The offense was stagnant for Northwestern until the fourth quarter in it's win over Vanderbilt. After managing only six points through the first three quarters the Wildcats erupted for 17 in the fourth and final period to secure the victory. The Wildcats struck some balance in the offensive attack rushing for 191 yards as a team and passing for 133 more for a total of 324 which was just slightly better than the 318 gained by Vanderbilt. The Wildcats also converted well with an 8-for-17 rate on third down and a 4-for-5 performance in the red zone, although they twice had to settle for field goals.
Venric Mark carried the ball as well as the offense all game for Northwestern. The running back tallied 123 rushing yards on 24 carries and scored a touchdown. He also had one reception for 14 yards giving him the team lead in all-purpose yards (158) which was almost 100 yards more than the next player.
The Wildcats employed a tandem at quarterback with Trevor Siemian (10 for-16, 91 yards) creating more in the passing game and Kain Colter (7 for-15, 42 yards, 66 rushing yards) adding a dynamic presence.
The defense held up enough to keep the Commodores at bay limiting them to only 13 points in the contest. It was a markedly better performance than the 41-point barrage the Wildcats let up to Syracuse in week one. The unit forced two fumbles and held Vanderbilt to a 4-for-15 effort on third downs in the game. With the two turnovers Northwestern now has at least one takeaway in each of the last 16 games and 38 of the last 41 contests.
Chi Chi Ariguzo had a another solid week and led the team with 10 tackles including three for loss and a sack in the contest. He is now second on the team with 17 total tackles. Team-leader Ibraheim Campbell (18) had only five against Vanderbilt.
It has been a good start to the season for Northwestern. This will mark the third straight non-conference game for the Wildcats against a team from another BCS conference and should mark the third straight win against such a team.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Northwestern 20 Boston College 13Game Date and Time
Saturday, September 15, 3:30 p.m. (et)