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UMass vs. Boston College Game Preview

The Minutemen look to seize momentum from their opening win and contain the Eagles’ star running back.

Ohio v Massachusetts
The defense containing A.J. Dillon is essential if UMass wants a chance this Saturday.
Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images

Date: Saturday, Sept. 1

Kickoff Time: 1 p.m. ET

Location: Alumni Stadium, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts

Watch it here: ACC Network Extra, WatchESPN.com

Hear it here: 850 WEEI (Boston); 105.5 WEEI (Springfield, MA)

Line: Boston College -18, O/U: 63

Series: Boston College leads 21-5-1


Opening thoughts

Week Zero might yield so much for the Minutemen.

Yes, it is only 1-0. And yes, it was only Duquesne but for a team that had to wait until Oct. 21 to get their first win last season, early success knows no only.

One week after easily dispatching the Dukes, the Minutemen travel east to face Boston College in what will be an early measuring stick to see just how "for real" UMass is in 2018.

The offense put up 63 points last week, but Andrew Ford and Company must contend with one of the most efficient passing defenses in all of college football from 2017. That means the offensive line in front of Marquis Young must open enough running lanes to keep Boston College’s passing pressure down.

Defensive backs Lukas Denis and Will Harris anchor the back end for Boston College, who must find someone on the D-line to at least attempt to replace the drafted Harold Landry.

Defensive end Zach Allen will be the man to contain for UMass.

Minutemen play-makers (this means you, UMass receiving corps) must show up again. Getting junior Sadiq Palmer involved early after a modest opener would go a long way.

No. 2 is UMass defense’s No. 1 concern

It’s the season opener for Boston College. Usually there is some intrigue around how first game jitters or offseason rust can contribute to a slow start.

But the Eagles have the returning starters (16, including 10 on offense) to combat some of those typical Week 1 challenges.

Dark horse Heisman candidate, running back AJ Dillon returns, as well as his entire starting offensive line in front of him. That includes all three interior linemen as seniors, including Second Team All-ACC guard Chris Lindstrom.

Dillon put up 1,589 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns and is only getting better as a sophomore seeing more and more snaps.

Boston College v Syracuse
Containing #2 AJ Dillon will be the highest priority for the UMass defense.
Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

The Minutemen defense continually found themselves pushing Duquesne into their own backfield. UMass will have to scheme, bring needed support into the box and force BC’s sophomore quarterback Anthony Brown to beat them from the pocket.

The status of linebacker Jarell Addo and corner Isaiah Rodgers is still unclear. The two were suspended for the season opener for violation of team rules. If on the field, UMass will have better depth to try and halt Mr. Dillon.

Prediction

This is the most talented Minutemen team in years, but Boston College is on a lot of college football analysts’s preseason-trendy-pick-to-be-sneaky-good lists.

If the Minutemen expect to make an even larger imprint on New England recruits, a win at their cross-state opponent will go a long way. This is the team that must do it.

Lots of BC fans will have their blood pressure tested. Ultimately, however, the steady pace of the Eagles’ offense will prove to be just enough.

Boston College 27, UMass 24