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No. 2 Clemson clinches another ACC Atlantic title by beating banged up No. 17 Boston College

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Dabo Swinney was far from happy with his team’s performance on Saturday night. It didn’t matter in the end one bit though as the head coach was still left smiling after No. 2 Clemson clinched another ACC Atlantic division title by topping a beat up No. 17 Boston College squad 27-7 on a chilly night at Chestnut Hill.

Injuries might have been the biggest news to come out of the rather ho-hum game on both sides. Tigers starting left tackle Mitch Hyatt missed most of the second half with what appeared to be a shoulder injury while Eagles starting quarterback Anthony Brown left after just six snaps in the first quarter once he went down awkwardly following a hit. After heading to the locker room, the young signal-caller did not return to the game and probably ended what ever slim chances his team had to pull off the upset in the process.

That’s not to say Steve Addazio’s program gave up though, as they fought an uphill battle on both sides of the ball against a much more talented squad and kept things close for a few quarters. E.J. Perry replaced Brown under center but it was tough sledding on offense to get anything going (113 total yards) as the backup finished 12-of-21 for a respectable 98 yards. His arm was unable to loosen up the box at all for tailback A.J. Dillon though, who did overcome that bum ankle to start the game but rushed for just 39 hard-fought yards.

Two bright spots for the dudes on the hill? Defensive end Zach Allen was everywhere for the Eagles and had four tackles, multiple QB hurries and a pass breakup for good measure. He certainly flashed plenty for the NFL scouts on hand and looked like he could certainly be a player with all those All-Americans on the Tigers’ defensive line. Michael Walker also had a nifty punt return for a 74-yard touchdown that he took back after it hit a defender and bounced into his arms.

As for Clemson, their destruction of conference opponents trailed off a bit in the game but they still dominated nearly wire-to-wire against BC. QB Trevor Lawrence seemed to have the entire offense riding on his shoulders with tailback Travis Etienne limited to 78 yards on the ground and a nine-man box just about every touch. Going to the air though, the freshman passer completed 29-of-40 for 295 yards, an interception and a touchdown while adding a short scoring run as well.

Mix in a stellar effort on the defensive side plus an Amari Rodgers 58 yard punt return for a touchdown and it was overall a routine victory for Swinney and company even if the final score didn’t quite indicate the gap in performance between the two sides. Still, it’s time for those in orange and purple to officially book a trip to Charlotte for the ACC Championship Game in a few weeks — and probably eye a trip even further South to a College Football Playoff semifinal as well.

QB Anthony Brown injured but No. 17 Boston College still in it with No. 2 Clemson at halftime

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No. 17 Boston College has had a history of improbable upsets led by a heroic effort from their quarterback but if that’s to be the case against No. 2 Clemson on Saturday night, the Eagles will have to do so with a backup under center as the team trails 13-7 at halftime in a critical ACC showdown.

That’s because BC starter Anthony Brown injured his shoulder after All-American defensive lineman Christian Wilkins landed on him after a hit, driving the signal-caller into the turf in a legal, yet painful way. He wound up retreating into the locker room in the second quarter and was ruled out the rest of the game after completing two passes for six yards in a limited effort for the team’s offense. Jeff Smith did take over throwing the ball but couldn’t find much success moving the sticks after entering the game.

Even with Brown in the lineup though, the Eagles weren’t doing a ton on that side of the ball either way. Tailback A.J. Dillon did start despite an ankle injury he’s been dealing with for several weeks but recorded only 27 yards on the ground and was swarmed on just about every carry. Steve Addazio’s defense was solid in the first half but will need a lot more after returning from the locker room. Special teams were also a bright spot as Michael Walker did take a punt return, after the ball bounced off a Tigers player and into his hands, 74 yards along the sideline to the end zone to fire up the crowd on Chestnut Hill.

As for Clemson, Dabo Swinney can’t be happy at the lack of finishing long drives from his offense. Trevor Lawrence was already up to 216 yards passing (one TD) through the first two quarters and had already hooked up with seven different players for a reception. However the team found the end zone just once in three trips to the red zone and running back Travis Etienne had just 40 yards rushing. Overall, it was pretty clear that yards on the ground were hard to come by with a stacked box on just about every play, but that did allow the freshman QB to take his shots down the field and could be something for the team to build on going forward.

It is still an uphill battle for the home team the rest of the way but the Tigers are not really taking advantage of their opportunities to put this game away. It should all make for a very interesting second half with the ACC Atlantic title on the line between the two.

AJ Dillon returns to power Boston College past Miami

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With Doug Flutie in attendance for some ACC action, Boston College (6-2, 3-1 ACC) didn’t need a Hail Mary to knock off  Miami (5-3, 2-2 ACC) on Friday night. AJ Dillon rushed for 149 yards and a touchdown in his return after missing two games and the Boston College defense forced a pair of turnovers that led to 10 points in the second half as Boston College topped Miami 27-14. The win helps keep Boston College in contention for the ACC Atlantic Division and muddies the waters a bit for Miami’s bid for a return trip to the ACC Championship Game.

Once Boston College took a 27-14 lead in the third quarter, the Eagles certainly gave Miami opportunities to get back in the game. But Miami turned the football over on downs after picking off a Boston College pass, and another turnover on downs followed a missed Boston College field goal. Two empty possessions after Boston College failed to tack on to their lead ultimately assured a defeat for Miami, making for a longer trip home than the Hurricanes would have preferred.

Boston College didn’t waste much time getting running back Dillon in action. Dillon took off for a 25-yard run on his first carry of the game and he would create some plays out of nothing a few more times in the game. Boston College also relied on some trick plays to make some big plays in the first half. But in the second half, Boston College didn’t have to dig into the bag of tricks much to put the game out of reach. It was the Boston College defense that helped create opportunities, with an interception of Malik Rosier giving the Eagles just 14 yards to go for a touchdown to create a double-digit lead. One play after Taj-Amir Torres picked off Rosier, Dillon took off to the right side of the field for a 14-yard score.

Rosier started off having a somewhat effective game for Miami as he returned to the starting role, but he ended the night with two interceptions while completing 18 of 35 passes for 149 yards. Rosier also rushed for s team-high 72 yards. Similarly, Boston College’s Anthony Brown completed 15-of-28 passes for 152 yards and a touchdown with an interception. Brown also rushed seven times for 44 yards and caught a 27-yard pass from Jeff Smith.

The win moves Boston College to 3-1 in the ACC, nudging the Eagles just past NC State for second place in the Atlantic Division behind unbeaten Clemson ahead of Saturday’s games. Already having clinched a third straight bowl-eligible season under Steve Addazio, the Eagles will now look to take the next step forward. After two straight years with seven wins, Boston College is in a spot where they can begin focusing on a larger goal. The seventh win could come next week on the road at Virginia Tech, with the Hokies really struggling at home the past few weeks. After that is a big home game against Clemson, the team everyone in the ACC is chasing at the moment. First place in the ACC Atlantic Division could very well be on the line in two weeks in Chestnut Hill. (It’s worth mentioning Boston College has already lost to NC State, so a win by the Wolfpack at Syracuse on Saturday would keep Boston College in third place in the division at the end of the weekend).

Meanwhile, Miami still has a lot of football to be played and is still in the running for the Coastal Division for a second straight season. Two straight losses in ACC play puts the Hurricanes behind the curve and one of the teams they are chasing for the top spot, Virginia, owns a head-to-head tiebreaker with them. It will be all division games from now until the end of the regular season for the Hurricanes though, and they figure to play a significant role in how the Coastal Division is settled. Miami will look to snap out of their losing skid next week at home against Duke.

Virginia Tech QB Josh Jackson set for surgery, out indefinitely

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Virginia Tech’s embarrassing weekend came with a rather substantial personnel loss.

This past Saturday, starting quarterback Josh Jackson went down with a lower-leg injury in then-No. 13 Tech’s historic loss to Old Dominion; it was the Conference USA program’s first-ever win over a Power Five school after nine straight such losses over the last decade.

Monday, the Hokies’ worst fears were realized as Justin Fuente confirmed that Jackson suffered a fractured left fibula during the game and will be sidelined indefinitely.  The signal-caller is set to undergo surgery on Tuesday to repair the damage.

This season prior to the injury, Jackson completed a little over 62 percent of his 58 passes for 575 yards, five touchdowns and an interception.  His 170.3 pass efficiency rating is currently 18th nationally and second among ACC quarterbacks (Boston College’s Anthony Brown, 175.5).

With Jackson sidelined for the foreseeable future, the keys to Tech’s offense will be handed off to Ryan Willis.  The Kansas transfer had to sit out the 2017 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules, and has attempted 25 passes for the Hokies this season.  In that limited action thus far, he has thrown for 195 yards and a touchdown.

The good news is that Willis isn’t exactly new to the starting game at the collegiate level.

Willis started two games during the 2016 season; after throwing three interceptions in each of those mid-October starts, Willis was benched and never played another down for the Jayhawks. In his first season in Lawrence in 2015, Willis set a KU freshman record by throwing for 1,719 yards and nine touchdowns as part of his eight starts.

“I feel badly for Josh,” Fuente said in comments distributed by the school earlier today. “He’s a competitive, tough young man. He just kind of got landed on wrong on the play, but know he’ll come back better than ever.

“We turn to Ryan Willis and he performed pretty well last week when he went in there. He’s competitive and he’s been training and working for this opportunity and it’s up to everyone else to step up their game as well and help him out and support him.”

Boston College loses QB Anthony Brown for the season

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At 5-5 with two games remaining, Boston College is in the thick of the hunt for a bowl game. And the Eagles will have to complete that hunt without the services of their starting quarterback.

BC head coach Steve Addazio announced Monday quarterback Anthony Brown will miss the remainder of the year after injuring his leg in the Eagles’ 17-14 loss to NC State on Saturday.

“We’ve lost Anthony Brown for the season. Anthony has a lower leg injury that will require surgery, so we’ll be moving forward,” Addazio said. “Obviously our heart goes out to Anthony. He’s a big part of the future of our program, and he’s a great competitor. He’ll be back and ready to roll next year.”

A redshirt freshman from Clifton, N.J., Brown completed 134-of-258 passes (51.9 percent) for 1,367 yards with 11 touchdowns against nine interceptions while rushing 42 times for 210 yards and a touchdown. He threw only five passes in Saturday’s loss, and was replaced by senior Darius Wade, who hit 8-of-15 throws for 82 yards. A senior, Wade has thrown 40 passes this season.

Boston College closes with Connecticut at home Saturday and a trip to Syracuse on Nov. 25, needing to win one to reach their fourth bowl game in five seasons under Addazio.