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Iowa Football Preview: Boston College Eagles

The bowl game woes need to go...

NCAA Football: Boston College at Connecticut David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Folks, it saddens me to say that we are quickly approaching the Hawkeyes’ final game of the season, which will be in the Pinstripe Bowl against one of the hotter teams in the country in the Boston College Eagles.

At this point, everyone knows about Iowa’s postseason woes over recent seasons, as the Hawkeyes are currently riding a five-game bowl losing streak with the last bowl win coming all the way back in 2010. Also, it’s not like these bowl games have been close losses either, as the Hawkeyes have been outscored by a total of 108-10 in the first halves of their last five bowl game losses.

Looking ahead to this Pinstripe Bowl matchup against Boston College, the Eagles aren’t exactly bringing a unique or unseen play style to the table. However, they have what it takes to give the Hawkeyes a tough time on both sides of the ball tomorrow.

With all that said, let’s take an in-depth look at what exactly the Eagles are bringing to the table in this bowl game matchup.

Boston College On Offense

On offense, there’s no denying that the headliner for both the Eagles ground attack and offense as a whole is true freshman running back, A.J. Dillon.

Coming in at 6’0”, 240-pounds, Dillon is a big back. Make no mistake, he absolutely plays like a big back too. So far this season, Dillon has posted some ridiculous numbers out of the Eagles backfield, as he’s racked up 1,400 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns while averaging 5.3 yards per carry.

When you watch on Dillon on tape, as a runner, there are a lot of similarities between him and Wisconsin Badgers true freshman running back Jonathan Taylor, as they both display very impressive patience, vision, balance, and physicality, as both players possess the ability to break through arm and ankle tackles with consistency. Also, much like Taylor, Dillon doesn’t really impact the passing game all that much, in fact Dillon has yet to record even one pass reception this season, which hasn’t been an uncommon thing for the lead back in this Eagles offense over the years.

With that said, this comparison is a little bit off when you factor the overall build of both players, as Dillon is clearly the much bigger back. However, from an athletic profile perspective, I do think they’re very similar.

In the passing game, the Eagles as a collective threw for under 2,000 yards this season and a combined 15 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. In addition, in the third to last game of the regular season, Eagles redshirt freshman starting quarterback, Anthony Brown, suffered a non-contact right leg injury against North Carolina State, which would effectively put an end to his season.

In Brown’s place tomorrow, the Hawkeyes will get to see senior quarterback Darius Wade who is an athletic lefty coming off the best statistical game of his career in the regular-season finale against Syracuse. With that said, expect the passing game to be more so a complementary part of this offense with running game doing the overwhelming bulk of the damage.

Boston College On Defense

Over the years, one thing you could always count on from this Eagles team under Steve Addazio is that there would be talent on the defensive side of the ball and this season, it hasn’t been any different.

For the Eagles on defense, it all starts up front with certified star defensive end Harold Landry who I believe is a top-10 level talent in college football and a guy who will be making plays on Sundays very soon.

As an athlete, Landry is twitchy, flexible, and explosive off the edge and can dominate an offensive line if help isn’t assigned to his side of the line of scrimmage. So far this season, the Hawkeyes haven’t seen anything like Landry coming off the edge and with Alaric Jackson out, Tristan Wirfs being shifted to left tackle and Levi Paulsen making his first start of the season at right tackle — Landry will be lining up across from Paulsen — it could be a very long day for the Hawkeyes up front. With all that said, it should be noted that Landry is currently listed as questionable for tomorrow, so it’s possible that the Hawkeyes will be dodging a major bullet if Landry does indeed end up being ruled out.

In addition to Landry, junior defensive end Zach Allen has also made quite the impact this season, recording 14.5 tackles for a loss, three sacks, and 93 tackles. With that said, as an athlete and as a penetrator, Allen isn’t very comparable to Landry and with Wirfs getting the start at left tackle, he should be able to keep Allen in check for the most part.

At the second level, linebacker Ty Schwab has embraced a larger workload this season and has turned out an impressive year, which includes 101 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks and 2 interceptions. As a player, Schwab is an instinctual, sure-tackler who always seems to be around the ball when you turn on the tape. Also, Schwab moves with a lot of confidence at the second level by avoiding taking bad angles and more often than not filling the lane he’s supposed to on a given play.

In the secondary, the Eagles will be without star cornerback Kamrin Moore on Wednesday — a player I’m very high on as an NFL prospect — who was lost for the season with a shoulder injury. With that said, breakout junior safety Lukas Denis will be full-go against the Hawkeyes and brings a serious playmaking element to the table, as he’s recorded 80 tackles, seven interceptions, nine pass defends, and two forced fumbles this season alone.

As a player, Denis is an athletic rangy defender with highly impressive coverage ability and ball skills; expect him to make his presence felt tomorrow in some fashion.

What to Expect

In my opinion, this is a must-win game for this program as it would be very troubling to see the Hawkeyes’ bowl losing streak extend to six games.

From top to bottom, the Eagles are very similar to the Wisconsin Badgers in terms of play style. However, the Eagles do feature a lot less talent from a personnel perspective.

So far this season, the Hawkeyes have struggled against teams that can penetrate up front on defense and that’s something the Eagles do extremely, especially when Harold Landry is on the field.

If the Hawkeyes hope to find success in this game, they’ll need to find a way to muster up some offense and hold down the edge against both Landry and Allen. With how hot A.J. Dillon and the Eagles offense as a whole has looked in recent weeks, they’ll almost certainly be able to put some points up on the board in this contest.