Four straight losses. That’s what Syracuse is coming off before it finally returns home this evening to face a team with four straight… wins. Many left Boston College for dead after a week 1 loss to Northern Illinois and a very uninspiring week 2 victory, but the tides have since changed. A hot team one win away from bowl eligibility is a very dangerous one.
Talk about the winds of change in full force. As mentioned above, the vibes around Chestnut Hill were awful, until BC put together one heck of an effort against Florida State. The Eagles wound up falling to the Seminoles 31-29, but staying competitive over a full 60 minutes renewed some faith. Boston College followed that up with a beatdown at the hands of Louisville on the road, but has since rattled off four straight wins, including an impressive 38-23 road victory at Georgia Tech. The Eagles’ 5-3 status has rebounded the program after a disappointing 3-9 year last season, but they haven’t reached the eight win plateau since 2009. There was hope that…
HEAD COACH JEFF HAFLEY
…could be the guy to do it when he was hired, but it hasn’t happened yet. Hafley’s tenure began with a pair of six-win seasons, but last season’s meltdown and the week 1 loss to Northern Illinois had Eagles fans calling for his job. The rebound from that has been impressive over the last few weeks, but you’d be hard-pressed to find an argument where BC fans are totally satisfied with what they’ve seen from Hafley. That said, after this week Boston College has Virginia Tech, Pitt, and Miami in its future. 8 wins is not unattainable for Hafley this season by any means.
QB THOMAS CASTELLANOS
Castellanos may be Garrett Shrader 2.0. No, seriously. The UCF transfer is a dual-threat QB that loves to run around and isn’t always a great decision-maker. Does that not sound exactly like SU’s signal-caller? Castellanos is BC’s leading rusher by nearly 200 yards with nine scores on the ground too. Additionally, he averages just under 200 yards through the air per contest, but that 11:7 TD:INT ratio isn’t remarkable. Regardless, many had Emmett Morehead as a shoe-in to start for Boston College before the season. He lasted two drives, and Castellanos has been a game-changer in his stead.
WR LEWIS BOND
Fast and shifty are good adjectives that can be used to describe Bond. The Chicago native’s per-game stats aren’t mesmerizing at about four catches for 50 yards a contest, but ACC play has brought the best out of him and then some. Bond put up 80 yards and a score against Florida State, 71 yards and two TDs against Louisville, topped the century mark with a score against Virginia, then put up 72 yards at Georgia Tech. He’s saved his best for when it matters most this season.
DE DONOVAN EZEIRUAKU
Ezeiruaku’s name is one that should sound at least moderately familiar to Orange fans. The New Jersey native ate SU’s offensive line alive in Chestnut Hill last season, tallying nine total tackles, including three TFL and 2.5 sacks. That propelled Ezeiruaku to an All-ACC second team recognition. He hasn’t been nearly as dominant this year, but he’s still one of the best in the ACC. There’s also the on-field incident from last year. Syracuse lineman Enrique Cruz punched Ezeiruaku multiple times from behind in succession, leading to a subsequent ejection. Ezeiruaku stayed in the game, but it’s hard to think there won’t at least a little added fuel to the fire.
LB VINNY DEPALMA
DePalma is the engine that makes the Eagles’ defense churn. The New Jersey native has worked his way up the depth chart since he arrived on campus in 2018, overcoming both the pandemic and an Achilles injury to lead BC in tackles last season and garner an All-ACC Honorable Mention. DePalma is at it again in 2023, once again serving as his team’s leading tackler. He didn’t have a great showing for his standards against SU last season with four tackles, but when DePalma is hot, so is the BC defense. And he’s been hot lately.
There’s also the factor of this game being considered a rivalry by many. Syracuse and Boston College have gotten chippy many times in the past, might the Families Weekend environment tonight add to that? It’s going to be a fascinating game, one that may rewrite the stories of each team’s season.