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Boston College (0-0) vs. Massachusetts (0-0)



The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Saturday, August 30, 3 p.m. (ET).

FACTS & STATS: Site: Gillette Stadium (68.756) -- Foxboro, Massachusetts. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: BC 0-0, UMass 0-0. Away Record: BC 0-0, UMass 0-0. Neutral Record: BC 0-0, UMass 0-0. Conference Record: BC 0-0, UMass 0-0. Series Record: Boston College leads, 19-5.

GAME NOTES: The battle for New England takes place on Saturday afternoon, as the Massachusetts Minutemen take on the Boston College Eagles at Gillette Stadium.

The first game for both teams this season, the Eagles have dominated the series from the outset, winning 19 of the 24 all-time meetings, including the last seven dating back to 1979. Most recently, Boston College handled UMass, 45-17, in Chestnut Hill back in 2011.

Both teams come into the season with tempered expectations. UMass is entering its next-to-last season in the Mid-American Conference after posting just two wins in as many years, while Boston College tries to avoid being a middle-of- the-pack finisher in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

The Minutemen had just one win last season, defeating Miami-Ohio on Oct. 12, 17-10, before losing their final six games. For the season, UMass averaged just 11.7 points per game, on only 281.6 yards per contest, while opponents scored at a clip of 33 points and gained over 433 yards per game.

Wide receiver Tajae Sharpe is the top returning player on the offensive side for UMass after leading the team last year with 61 catches for 680 yards and four touchdowns. The junior from Piscataway, New Jersey, enters the 2014 campaign with 81 career receptions for 886 yards. He is one of the lone bright spots for the offensively-challenged squad.

Defensively, the Minutemen are shifting to a 3-4 set. Linebacker Stanley Andre had a career season in 2013, leading the Minutemen in tackles 12 times. Cornerback Randall Jette should also help, after the two-year starter posted 45 tackles in 2013 with 11 pass break-ups, two forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and one interception.

Boston College begins its post-Andre Williams era with a running back-by- committee approach for at least the first game of the season. Williams, a Heisman finalist last season, ran for 2,177 yards and 18 touchdowns.

The Eagles averaged 367 yards per game last season, scoring an average in excess of 27 points per game.

The bad news is the Eagles will have to replace Williams' production, but the good news is that the offensive line that paved the way returns in tact. Those returnees include senior center Andy Gallik, who was chosen as a pre-season All-Conference player.

Myles Willis, a sophomore, should at least start in the backfield for the Eagles offense. Last year, he ran for 346 yards and two scores on 60 carries.

Boston College also has a new quarterback in Tyler Murphy. The University of Florida transfer completed just over 60 percent of his passes for 1,216 yards with six touchdowns and five interceptions in six games with the Gators. He replaces Chase Rettig, who completed 61.6 percent of his passes for 1,995 yards with 17 TDs and eight interceptions.

Based off of Murphy's experience and background with head coach Steve Addazio, who was Murphy's offensive coordinator at Florida, the Eagles offense appears to be in good hands.

BC's all-time leading receiver Alex Amidon is also gone, and he was by far the top target in an anemic passing attack. Senior Bobby Swigert, who missed the 2013 season due to injury, is back. Playing backup to Rettig for much of his career, Josh Bordner (6-foot-4, 230 pounds) will move to wideout with the hopes of providing a big target for Murphy.

Defensively for Boston College, a strong secondary should benefit a young, unknown defensive front. The strength of the BC defense comes in the secondary, as all four starters return in cornerbacks Manuel Asprilla (68 tackles, two INTs) and Bryce Jones (62 tackles, two INTs) and safeties Sean Sylvia (68 tackles, one INT) and Dominique Williams (65 tackles, one INT)

Up front, linebackers Steele Divitto (third-team All-ACC) and Kevin Pierre- Louis (first-team All-ACC) both eclipsed the century mark in tackles, but are no longer roaming the middle for BC. Steven Daniels could be the heir apparent. The 6-foot, 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 (6-foot-2, 220 pounds), who has bided his time as a valuable reserve.

The Eagles don't look to be tested in this first game. UMass is a struggling program in the MAC and despite the Eagles' new QB and RB combo, they are experienced enough to put a hurting on the Minutemen. While a season-opening letdown is not out of the question, as UMass has had this game circled on the schedule since the last meeting in 2011, it's hard to believe BC letting this one slip away. The ACC schedule is tough enough to allow games like this to get away from them.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Boston College 44, Massachusetts 13

08/29 15:14:39 ET

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