Thursday, August 31, 2023

BC-Northern Illinois preview

This is it. I like Hafley and appreciate the different tone he brought when he arrived. I respect how he handled COVID and that unprecedented first season. But since Jurk went down in 2021 in the UMass game, we’ve been adrift. At a base level, this is the time to get things back on track. At a realistic level, if Hafley is anything special we need to bounce back in a big way. The landscape has changed in college football. His bosses have changed twice. The portal and NIL changed the way you recruit and develop talent. It’s tough. However, the great guys not only adapt in times like this…they thrive.

I trust that Hafley has improved his staff and roster. He pivoted and used the portal to plug holes. While lacking in game breakers, we have depth and above average talent across the board. And we have a very favorable schedule. We have four wins baked in the final record with our non-conference slate. There are also three very winnable ACC games. That means seven games is a reasonable goal. I would like to win more than that. Whatever the upside is, it starts Saturday.

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game)
The dominant narrative of the college football offseason was once again conference shifting. Games are about to start and the ACC is still in flux for 2024. It has been that way for more than 20 years. I don’t think picking up a few former Pac 12 teams or even SMU (!?!) is going to be the end of anything. As a BC fan, I don’t get too fired up about any of the shifts any more. The train is heading towards the Super League and I don’t think BC controls its own fate. In the meantime, I am a simple man with simple desires. Are we playing teams I care about? Yes. Are we on TV? Yes. Are the games fun to watch? I hope. Are we winning? We better.

Three Simple Keys
1. Hold up against the run. The defensive line needs to be better and more consistent. They have to conrol the line of scrimmage. And we can't allow a back breaking 4th quarter drive like we did in last season's opener. 
2. Stretch the field. We don't have a Zay, but that aggressive mindset can't go away. Morehead can get it downfield. We need to let him go for it a few times per game.
3. Generate more turnovers. Considering his defensive background, I would think by now Hafley would have instilled a bigger turnover mentality. But we don't sit back like Spaz's schemes and wait but we don't strip many either. We need to have some things go our way and it starts this weekend.

Gambling Notes
-- Hafley is 2-1 in season openers
-- BC is 17-1 against the MAC all-time
-- Hafley is 16-19 against the spread 
The current line is BC-8.5

This is the second time we have opened the season with Northern Illinois.

Scoreboard Watching
LSU vs Florida State. Normally I root for the ACC team under the rationale that it helps BC. But at this point what is Florida State doing for us. They don't want to be part of the conference. They think they belong with the big boys. Well let's see how they do. If they get spanked, I won't shed a tear.

I hope to see...
A dominant win. Openers can go a lot of different ways. For Hafley and this season, I think we need a statement game. Last year is over. BC is back. Don't make this interesting.

BC is in trouble if...
The offensive line is a mess. It should be improved over last year's disaster, but I don't view Applebaum as some sort of savior. The unit was fine when he was here the first time. At BC, the Oline can and should be great. 

Bottom Line 
I want to believe. The experts and the sports books have us as a .500ish team, but I think Hafley still has upside. I think this season is where it starts to turn the corner. BC wins comfortably and looks great on D. 
Final Score:
BC 31, Northern Illinois 13

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