For the first time since the current format was introduced, Boston College entered the College Football Playoff rankings at No. 22 with a 6-2 overall record.
Although that is a significant feather in the Eagles' cap, it can easily go away, as did their positive feelings when they entered the AP top 25 earlier in the season, only to lose to Purdue and bounce back out.
So as BC gets ready to head to Blacksburg, Va., to face Virginia Tech, we wanted to take a look at a few aspects of what can determine the outcome for either side.
— The Eagles have to remain creative on offense. One of the best things BC offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler did in the win over Miami last weekend was keep the Hurricanes off balance. He did this by using a healthy dose of motioning, which kept Miami from teeing off with blitzes, and made it hurt when the Hurricanes did pin their ears back. Loeffler also dialed up a couple of double passes that each worked to perfection, which is a nice weapon to have when you have a wide receiver in Jeff Smith, who played quarterback both in high school and a little in college. It's not absolutely necessary to use trick plays to beat the Hokies this week, but a little creativity goes a long way when facing Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster, who, despite some of his team's struggles this year, remains one of the best in the game.
— Win the field position battle again. What went a little overlooked in the win over Miami was how much the Eagles dominated in that respect in the second half. In the first half, it was the opposite, and directly led to at least one of the Hurricanes' touchdowns. In the latter stages of the game, though, it was different. Of the 13 total possessions in the final 30 minutes, only three started in Boston College territory. When the Eagles take to the road at Lane Stadium in one of the most hostile environments in the country, an advantage on where drives start can significantly tilt the scales in one direction or the other. A big determining factor there can be turnovers, and both teams are solid there. BC is tied for 13th in the country in turnover margin, and Virginia Tech is not far behind at 29th.
— Keep spreading the wealth. Another huge plus for BC in its win over Miami was how diverse its passing attack was. Eleven different players caught the ball, including quarterback Anthony Brown. That is significant, not just the number, but the way in which Brown and Smith used their receivers. Simply put, there are very few teams in the nation that know how to utilize their tight ends in the passing game as well as the Eagles. Six of those 11 players were from that position, and that allowed Brown to utilize the middle of the field effectively. The one team Virginia Tech faced this year that really specializes in throwing to the tight end was Notre Dame, which had great success on offense against the Hokies. Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book completed 25-of-35 passes for 271 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in his team's 45-23 win in Blacksburg. Nine of those completions went to tight ends. That does not mean the Eagles will have similar output, but it shows what is possible with an offense that features a similar facet.
— Keep tapping into that motivational well. When Virginia Tech plays at home, it has an extra juice in its step from performing in front of what is consistently one of the most raucous crowds in college football. For BC, there is no question it will be amped for this game, but lately, the Eagles have found extra push from external factors. In the win over Louisville, the BC players and coaches took exception to a Cardinals wide receiver saying the Eagles defense was "slow." In the postgame press conference following the win over Miami, multiple Eagles spoke about how they drew inspiration from 9/11 hero Welles Crowther. BC defensive end Zach Allen also made reference to how the Eagles play for those next to them on the field, not a "turnover chain," a reward Miami defenders get for forcing a change of possession. There's no question BC will have a similar fire this week, as the Eagles still have their last trip to Lane Stadium firmly at the front of their minds. That one got out of hand quickly in a 49-0 loss, and it's no secret that the Eagles want a little retribution. That emotion can be a powerful tool if channeled appropriately.