1. The Eagles are ready to show they're legit contenders -- and to end that No. 2 curse. Boston College has ridden the wave of spectacular upsets all the way to the No. 2 spot in the AP poll. Following a bye week, the Eagles can now prove they're worthy of the lofty ranking at Virginia Tech. The Eagles have been impressive thus far (eighth in the nation in passing offense, 16th in total offense and tops in run defense and passes intercepted) and they have a legit Heisman candidate in fifth-year quarterback Matt Ryan, who has thrown for 2,148 yards, 17 touchdowns and six interceptions. Detractors are quick to point to BC's schedule as a sign that it's ready for a tumble. The Eagles' biggest win to date was a two-touchdown victory at Georgia Tech. The team's last four outings have included underwhelming wins over Army, UMass, Bowling Green and Notre Dame. Besides having to worry about its own perception, Boston College also faces the hex that seems to follow the No. 2 ranking (USF, Cal and USC all failed to make it past their first weekend in the position).
2. Will Sean Glennon or Tyrod Taylor be Virginia Tech's quarterback? Hokies coach Frank Beamer is staying mum on whether Glennon, who started last season and the opener, or Taylor, the freshman who started the last six games before suffering a high ankle sprain against Duke, will start. The Hokies have been dismal on offense, ranking 112th in total offense (299 yards per game), 101st passing (179) and 90th rushing (119.4). But the unit has shown signs of life as of late. Virginia Tech is coming off two 40-point games, though the 41-point performance against Clemson only included two offensive touchdowns. Against Duke, though, the offense produced five touchdowns and amassed 473 yards. Most of this production came from Glennon, who entered in relief of Taylor and threw for 258 yards and two TDs. It could be a sign that Glennon may be the better fit right now, or it could be that Glennon simply took advantage of a one-win Duke team. Regardless of who starts, with VT facing a stifling Boston College defense, it's hard to fault Beamer for putting his opponent in a position where it has to prepare for a pocket passer and a dual-threat QB.
3. Lane Stadium is no easy place for opposing teams to win, especially under the Thursday night lights. The Hokies are 42-27-1 in night games under Beamer, including a 9-1 mark on Thursday night, when Virginia Tech has outscored opponents 333-102. But Boston College coach Jeff Jagodzinksi isn't fazed by taking the field at Blacksburg when the sun goes down. "They've got lights there, right?" he said during the weekly ACC teleconference. "So we should be OK for playing at night. Everyone is bringing up the 'Lane Stadium at night.' I was hoping Virginia Tech had lights so we could play."
We asked a defensive coordinator from a former Boston College opponent to give us an anonymous scouting report on Eagles quarterback Matt Ryan and the offense. Here's what he had to say:
"He's big. He's got a strong arm and he's got great vision. He's well-coached. He knows the system can get him out of any pressure situation. He knows where to throw when he feels pressure. That's probably his biggest asset: his coolness, his calmness under pressure, where to get rid of the ball if you happen to get pressure on him.
"The system is very balanced by formation and run/pass. They'll give you a personnel group with a formation one week they ran the ball out of, then they'll give you the same formation the following week and they'll do nothing but throw the ball out of it. They're very multiple.
"They've got two big-time tight ends [Jon Loyte and Ryan Purvis] that I think are very, very underappreciated. The offensive line is phenomenal. They're not even running [L.V. Whitworth] and he was great as a junior. People don't realize it. They can be as balanced as you want. They do a lot of things in motion and have formations that disguise what they're really trying to do. They always have a tight end in motion, always. They'll work an edge on the running game and they'll work your combination coverages. If you try to man them up, they have enough speed that they'll burn you.
"You have to stop the run. You have to try and make it a one-dimensional game, but as soon as you load the box, [Ryan] is going to exploit you. That's why I they're doing so well."
Boston College 21, Virginia Tech 17. Ryan is deservedly the focus, but don't discount the Eagles' balance. The shifty Andre Callender is one of the nation's most unheralded runners and he should help to keep the Hokies defense honest while Ryan beefs up his Heisman resume.