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Looking Ahead to Boston College

Ah, the enigma that is Boston College. 7-3 on the year, yet never cracking the Top 25 all season. Still in the running for the Atlantic Division title, yet 1-3 against teams with winning records. Eyed by the Peach Bowl, but just not very good.

That's primary because of their offense, which is down in the basement o the conference, ahead only of Maryland's, Virginia's, and, well, North Carolina's. What offense they do have resides in Montel Harris, the sophomore running back. You probably don't remember him from last year's game in Chapel Hill, where he had a paltry 24 yards rushing. But he's come alive this season, with three 150+ yard games. Unfortunately for the Eagles, those three games were against the mighty defenses of FSU, N.C. State, and Virginia; the Heels will provide a tougher test. When BC tries to take to the air, things go poorly. Quarterback Dave Shinskie has had an up and down season that hit a low at Virginia Tech when he went 1-12 for four yards and two interceptions before being pulled.

This team, like the Heels survives on it's defense, which is fourth in the conference, but known for the occasional lapse as when it gave up 41 points against the Hokies. They're only average at generating turnovers, preferring to win the yardage battle and limit third down conversions. They're also very good at turning touchdown drives into field goal attempts in the red zone, something Carolina fans are used to seeing when the Heels have the ball.

This is a winnable game for the Heels. It also a road game coming on the heels of three emotional wins over Virginia Tech, Duke, and Miami. Last season this was just the type of game Carolina would inexplicably fail to show up for, leading to losses at Maryland and UVa. Win here, and UNC's late-season resurgence is for real, and they can start jockeying for a New Year's Bowl game. Stumble, and BC may slide into a division championship while Carolina remains on the bowl periphery. Now's the point in the season where we see just how far the team's improved.