|Northwestern's Venric Mark, who's already scored three touchdowns this season, could steal the show on Saturday. (US Presswire)|
Kickoff: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network)
Watchability: If you had told Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald that his Wildcats would be one of just five Big Ten teams to start the season 2-0, he would've been ecstatic given their two opponents, Syracuse and Vanderbilt. The Wildcats have proven their adaptability after posting 42 points vs. the Orange and then holding the 'Dores to just 13 points.
Shining Stars: Northwestern: No one has been more of a catalyst to the Wildcats' offense than 5-foot-8 RB Venric Mark. In just two games, he's rushed for 205 yards, scored three touchdowns (one rushing, one receiving, one punt return), and earned special teams player of the week after recording 134 punt return yards against Syracuse. Mark, a junior, had just two touchdowns in his career coming into the season. Boston College: Junior wideout Alex Amidon has been excellent this season regardless of the Eagles' opponent. Against Miami, he had the best game of his career with 10 catches and 147 yards and then followed that up with six catches for 99 yards and a score against Maine. Boston College averaged just 167 passing yards per game last season, 100th in the nation but so far this season, the Eagles can boast the 14th-best passing game in the country, averaging 330 yards a game.
Who could steal the show: Northwestern: Trevor Siemian has stolen the show the past two weeks, so why not a third time? He led a late-game touchdown drive in the first week vs. Syracuse and then conducted a fourth-quarter drive highlighted by a 34-yard pass to Rashad Lawrence which eventually broke a 13-13 tie with Vanderbilt. Of course, the Vanderbilt game wasn't sealed until starter Kain Colter broke off a 29-yard touchdown run with 1:24 left. As coach Pat Fitzgerald said, having two unique quarterbacks is a good problem to have. Boston College: Similar to the Wildcats' Mark, the Eagles have a do-it-all player of their own in sophomore wideout Spiffy Evans, who had four catches for 53 yards and a touchdown in the last Saturday's win over Maine. Evans also returned an 82-yard punt for a score to give Boston College a 24-point lead late in the fourth quarter. He'll have junior Chase Rettig throwing to him, who has amassed 660 yards and five touchdowns in the first two weeks vs. Miami and Maine. Turnovers have plagued Rettig in the past (23 touchdowns,19 career interceptions) and Northwestern is plus-4 so far this year but fortunately, he'll be going against an inexperienced Wildcat secondary.
You going? Ranking the road trip: The largest non-conference home crowd (31,644) since 2001 celebrated the Wildcats' win over Vanderbilt last Saturday at Ryan Field. With an exciting, offensive-minded team, why not check out what's brewing in Evanston against another decent non-conference opponent?
Magic number for Northwestern: 1. As in the difference between Kain Colter's yards per pass completion (4.9) and his yards per rushing attempt (3.9). Last season he averaged 8.2 ypc. Colter is better suited as the Wildcats' hybrid RB/WR, especially since Siemian has been taking over the offense in crunch time. Fitzgerald doesn't see it that way and has named Colter the starter for Saturday's game.
Magic number for Boston Collge: 40. As in the percentage (12 of 30) of successful third-down conversion the Eagles have had so far this season. Northwestern held Vanderbilt to just 4 of 15 third-down conversions last Saturday.
The game comes down to: Northwestern's defense. No one knows which defense will show up -- the one that conceded 596 yards to Syracuse or the one that limited Vanderbilt to just 324 yards.
Prediction: Northwestern 27, Boston College 20
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