Boston College's Dillon looks to end Clemson's run
By The Associated Press
Boston College (4-3, 2-2 ACC) at No. 4 Clemson (7-0, 5-0), Saturday at 7:30 p.m. EDT (ACC Network).
Line: Clemson by 34.
Series record: Clemson leads 17-9-2.
WHAT'S AT STAKE?
Clemson's run to a fifth straight College Football Playoff berth. The Tigers were preseason No. 1 and held that spot most of September, but have slipped three positions, sliding a spot after each of their past three wins. Boston College is seeking the signature win that seventh-year coach Steve Addazio can build on going forward.
Boston College RB AJ Dillon vs. Clemson's defensive front. Dillon, a senior, leads the ACC with 968 yards and nine touchdowns. Clemson has held opponents to five TDs on the ground all season, giving up just 111 yards rushing a game so far.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Boston College: LB Max Richardson leads the ACC and is 10th nationally with 73 tackles this season. Richardson is also tops in the ACC with 11 tackles for loss.
Clemson: RB Travis Etienne is right behind Dillon in the ACC yardage race with 781 yards and six touchdowns. Etienne, the ACC's player of the year in 2018, had 192 yards and a 49-yard TD run in a 45-10 win at Louisville.
FACTS & FIGURES
Clemson is seeking its 23rd straight victory overall and its 19th straight (counting two ACC title game victories) against league opponents since 2017. ... Boston College has had its moments at Death Valley, winning its first-ever league game after joining the ACC before the 2005 season. The Eagles, led by quarterback Matt Ryan, also clinched the ACC Atlantic Division with a win at Clemson in 2007. ... Clemson has held its first seven opponents to less than 300 yards a game. ... Boston College has lost 11 straight games to top-five opponents since beating No. 4 Notre Dame 14-7 in 2002. Five of those 11 defeats have come to Clemson. ... The teams compete for the O'Rourke-McFadden trophy, a replica leather helmet from when Boston College and Clemson played in the 1940 Cotton Bowl, won by Clemson 6-3.
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CLEMSON - Trevor Lawrence doesn't mind the critics, just as long as the victories keep coming for No. 4 Clemson.
The Tigers' sophomore quarterback, a favorite for the Heisman Trophy when the year began, has largely fallen out of the award conversation with a very up and down season so far. He's had eight interceptions, double the amount of his national championship freshman season, and seems to have his technique, arm strength and decision making picked apart at every turn.
Lawrence and the Tigers (7-0, 5-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) look to win their 23rd straight game _ a streak coinciding with Lawrence's college career _ when it faces Boston College (4-3, 2-2) on Saturday night.
"It's just part of the position that we're in, just comes with it," Lawrence said. "Just have to ignore it the best you and can keep that stuff, I guess, outside of your circle."
Despite all the hot takes downgrading Lawrence's play, Clemson's offense has kept pace with last year's national title group. The Tigers lead the ACC in points per game (40.7) and are second to Wake Forest in total offense (504.7).
A year ago, Clemson averaged more than 44 points and 527 yards a game.
Lawrence has thrown for 1,543 yards and 14 touchdowns, but all anyone wants to talk about, Swinney said, are those eight interceptions.
Swinney said Lawrence has a similar mindset of Clemson's last national title-winning passer Deshaun Watson. "He was always going to make the next play," Swinney said. "That's how Trevor is."
He certainly showed that in a 45-10 win over Louisville last week. Lawrence had two first-half interceptions, yet finished with three touchdowns and 233 yards passing.
Things to watch for when Boston College faces No. 4 Clemson:
Clemson kicker B.T. Potter shared a meal with head coach Dabo Swinney a few days after his very public chastising for missing a chip-shot field goal against Florida State on Oct. 12. And that, Potter said, helped him get back on track as he made a 51-yard kick in last week's win over Louisville. Potter and Swinney ate together at Clemson's football facility and the coach told him he had confidence in his kicker. "That really helped me," Potter said. "That was definitely one of the best parts of last week."
ON THE GROUND
BC quarterback Dennis Grosel made his first career start in the 45-24 victory over N.C. State, and he got a lot of help from the running game.
AJ Dillon ran for 223 yards and three touchdowns, and David Bailey gained 181 yards and scored twice _ on 54- and 48-yard runs in the second quarter to turn a 10-3 game into a blowout. Grosel completed only 6 of 15 pass attempts for 103 yards, but he also ran for 11 yards on a third-and-10 from the BC 2 to start a 98-yard scoring drive. "Really nifty, smart running," coach Steve Addazio said. "He's going to continue to grow with every game."
Clemson hopes to have two defensive starters back from injuries against Boston College on Saturday night in end Xavier Thomas and cornerback Derion Kendrick. Thomas missed last week at Louisville after getting hurt at practice and entering the concussion protocol. Kendrick left the Louisville game with turf toe. He is hopeful but unsure if the two will be back this week.
BC defensive end Richard Yeargin spent four years at Clemson, missing the last two after he was injured in a car accident. The graduate transfer has played in all seven games, with eight tackles four for a loss and a half sack. "He went through some really tough stuff for a couple of years, and little by little, he's chipped away at that," Addazio said. "He certainly loved Clemson. He loved his experience, loved his teammates and his coaches. ... He's pretty fired up, as you can imagine he would be."
Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons, a contender for ACC defensive player of the year, leads the Tigers in about every defensive metric you can think of with 56 tackles, six sacks and 10 stops behind the line of scrimmage. He says he's his hardest on himself when he makes an error and Tigers defensive coordinator Brent Venables does not try to boost Simmons' spirits. "I usually agree with him," Venables joked. "I'm hard on him, too."
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