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Boston College Eagles vs. Massachusetts Minutemen Pick-Odds-Prediction 8/30/14

Boston College Eagles (7-6) at Massachusetts Minutemen (1-11)

College Football: Saturday, August 30, 2014 at 3:00 pm (Gillette Stadium)

The Line: Massachusetts Minutemen +16 -- Over/Under: 48.5 See the Latest Odds

TV: ESPN3

The Massachusetts Minutemen play the Boston College Eagles on Saturday.

The UMass Minutemen struggled in all phases of the game during the 2013 season as they finished 1-11. The offense averaged 282 yards and 11.7 points per game. The offense was held below 10 points in six of their games. The defense surrendered an average 433 yards and 33 points a game. They gave up at least 24 points in ten of their twelve games. As mentioned above, 2013 was a bad year for the UMass offense, but they return seven starters and should be more productive. At quarterback, they are expected to start Marshall transfer Blake Frohnapfel. Playing time was sparse at Marshall, but Frohnapfel has shown talent in the action he received. Over the two seasons at Marshall, Frohnapfel went 35 of 45 for 386 yards, five touchdowns, and two interceptions. The offense should improve vastly with him behind the center. A point of concern would be the offensive line. Three starters from 2013 are gone and the right side of the line is being totally replaced. C Matt Sparks will lead the line as they look to give new quarterback Blake Frohnapfel time to throw to his receivers.

Boston College Eagles vs. Massachusetts Minutemen Pick-Odds-Prediction 8/30/14

USA TODAY Sports

As bad as UMass was on defense in 2013, it was actually an improvement over 2012. The 2012 season saw UMass give up an average of 459 yards and 40.2 points per game, while 2013 was a nice improvement to 433 yards per game and 33 points per game. They will also shift to a 3-4 this year with six returning starters. One area of strength for UMass is the secondary. All four starters return including Ed Saint-Vil. Saint-Vil was a linebacker prior to the 2013 season, but moved him to safety. He did well as he recorded 82 tackles and had three pass breakups. Also returning with him is Trey Dudley-Giles, Randall Jette, and D'Metrius Williams. This group will need to lead the defense as they look for continued improvement.

The Boston College Eagles finished with 7 wins last year as they won four of their last five to earn a spot in the AdvoCare Bowl. The Eagles lost the bowl game but it was a good step for the program. This season the offense returns only three starters and it could take some time for the team to come together offensively. The team relied heavily on RB Williams to carry the offensive load in 2013. This season the rushing attack will be handled by a combination of sophomores in Myles Willis and Tyler Rouse, who have a combined 4 touchdowns in their college careers. Compounding the offensive problems, at least early on, is a change under center, as former Florida Gator Tyler Murphy will close out his college career replacing veteran Chase Rettig. Boston College’s all-time leading receiver Alex Amidon is also gone and he was by far the top target in an anemic passing attack. The team will return senior Bobby Swigert, who missed the 2013 season due to injury. Playing backup to Rettig for much of his career, Josh Bordner, will move to wide receiver with the hopes of providing a big target for Murphy. The Eagles do have some continuity up front with all three returning offensive starters residing along the offensive line in seniors Bobby Vardaro, Harris Williams at guard, and senior Andy Gallik at center. Add other veterans like former Florida Gator Ian Silberman and fellow grad student Seth Betancourt and this is an experienced group that could be one of the better front lines in the ACC this year.

The Boston College defense returns six starters from last year's squad that had its ups and downs. The Eagles have enjoyed a period of great success at the linebacker position recently and that continued last season. Steele Divitto, third-team All-ACC, and Kevin Pierre-Louis, first-team All- ACC, both eclipsed the century mark in tackles. They are no longer roaming the middle for Boston College, which must find a suitable replacement in 2014. Steven Daniels could be that player. The 6-0, 257-pounder really elevated his game as a sophomore last year, finishing third on the team in tackles with 88 stops. A great deal is expected of senior Josh Keyes, who has bided his time as a valuable reserve. Freshman Connor Strachan could make an immediate impact as well. Boston College could surprise some teams in the ACC and could earn a trip back to a bowl game this season.

UMass was not a great team in 2013 and I don’t expect them to be a big threat this year either. Meanwhile, Boston College has taken a step in the right direction and looks to build off a solid 2013 season. I think the Minutemen will hang around in this game, but Boston College will pull away in the second half and win by 20 or more.

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Boston College -16

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