CLEMSON, S.C. — After playing four of its first five games at home, Boston College will venture beyond the friendly confines of Alumni Stadium to play only its second road game of the season.
Much like the first trip of the season to Southern California, where BC suffered its first defeat of 2013 against the Trojans, the Eagles will test themselves Saturday against another elite program in another noisy and hostile environment.
After romping to a 48-27 victory over Army last Saturday, a resounding triumph which saw senior running back Andre Williams become the nation’s leading rusher (153.6 yards per game) after he carried 30 times for a career-high 263 yards and five touchdowns, BC (3-2 overall, 1-1 ACC) faces the third-ranked Clemson Tigers in an ACC Atlantic Division showdown at Death Valley.
“We’ve played this caliber of team [before],’’ said BC coach Steve Addazio, referring to the setbacks the Eagles suffered Sept. 14 at USC (35-7) and Sept. 28 at home versus then-No. 8 Florida State (48-34).
“We’ve played an upper echelon team,’’ Addazio said. “We’ve played a couple of them from a talent standpoint and one of ’em from a ranking standpoint. That’s going to help us. Of course, this will be the most hostile environment we’ve been in to this date. No question. This is more severe. At USC, we didn’t need silent cadence, but you’re going to need all that [at Clemson].’’
To prepare for the hostile environment the Eagles are likely to encounter in Clemson’s 81,500-seat Memorial Stadium, Addazio had the Tigers’ fight song piped in over Alumni Stadium’s public address system during practices Tuesday and Wednesday.
“It’s going to be the loudest stadium we’ll play in,’’ Addazio said. “It’s like an SEC stadium. You’ve got to be prepared for it or it’ll rattle you.’’
The Eagles will also have to guard against getting rattled by Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd, the 2012 ACC Player of the Year, who last week threw for a school-record 455 yards and tied his own school record with five touchdown passes in an impressive 49-14 romp over Syracuse in the Carrier Dome.
“They have dynamic receivers, a dynamic back, and a quarterback who is a veteran big-time guy,’’ Addazio said. “Florida State had a great combination of that, too. But these guys are really something and this quarterback is more experienced. This is a tough, tough, tough deal.
“They’ll make you look foolish quickly.’’
Boyd made that evident against Syracuse when he connected with dangerous wideout Sammy Watkins, the league’s fourth-leading receiver, four times for 126 yards, including a 91-yard TD that ranks as the conference’s longest pass play of the season. Boyd also connected with Adam Humphries three times for 118 yards and a pair of touchdowns and with Martavis Bryant thrice for 79 yards and a score.
“Probably between Florida State and this team, you’re facing two of the absolutely talented offensive teams in America — without question, no doubt,’’ Addazio said. “I don’t see anybody who matches up with them from that standpoint.’’
It will be up to the Eagles to reprise the physical effort they submitted against Florida State, which resulted in a 17-3 lead early in the second quarter. BC, however, will have to guard against Clemson’s big-play capability, which proved a vulnerability for the Eagles when redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston rallied the Seminoles to 21 straight points, highlighted by a 55-yard Hail Mary to Kenny Shaw as time expired in the first half, giving Florida State a 24-17 halftime lead.
“They are a very solid football team that will come down here with great confidence,’’ Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said of the Eagles. “We are going to have to match their physicality because this is a tough, hard-nosed group. We are going to have to play well.’’
Facing, perhaps, the toughest team they play all season, the Eagles will have to respond in kind in their second road trip of the season.
“I can’t tell you that we didn’t have a good week going into USC, because we did,’’ Addazio said, when asked about the difference in the preparation for BC’s first road trip of the season versus its second trip. “We just didn’t handle it well. It just takes a lot of maturity.
“How will we handle this? I don’t know that,’’ Addazio added. “Obviously, I’m hoping that it’ll be much better than the last time because we underperformed in that last game . . . So we need to handle this better and we need to play better, of course, we’re playing a much better team.
“The other team [USC] was a good team, a good talented team, but this is the No. 3 team in the country, and deservedly so. It’s a legitimate ranking. So we’re playing some of the finest teams in the country right now.’’
Michael Vega can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.