CLEMSON - By any and all measures, 2013 was more than baby steps for Boston College.
Boston College toppled four teams it lost to the year before (Virginia Tech, N.C. State, Wake Forest and Army) while picking up a win at Maryland and making both Florida State and Clemson sweat into the fourth quarter.
Running back Andre Williams dominated the nation on the ground, becoming Division I's first 2000-yard rusher in five years and finding his way to New York City as a Heisman Trophy finalist - where he finished fourth, one spot ahead of Johnny Football.
And perhaps most importantly, Steve Addazio's no-nonsense demeanor clearly is paying off with recruits one year into the gig - BC hauled in the ACC's eighth-best 2014 class (per Rivals) a year after finishing dead-last in the conference.
If you've been reading these Clemson opponent previews, you know the Tigers' first half of the 2014 schedule is far harsher than the second half. This journey to Chestnut Hill marks the start of the second half, but it's a tricky one as well. Boston College has much to rebuild from last year's promising campaign, but it is a road game to a program feeling fairly good about itself.
Clemson's just 5-4 against Boston College since they became divisional mates in 2005 (including 2-2 in the northeast, most recently a tight Clemson 45-31 win in 2012) and don't forget how closely BC played Clemson at Death Valley last fall before Vic Beasley's scoop-and-score.
Opponent preview No. 1: Georgia
Opponent preview No. 2: S.C. State
Opponent preview No. 3: Florida State
Opponent preview No. 4: North Carolina
Opponent preview No. 5: North Carolina State
Opponent preview No. 6: Louisville
Game 7: No. 22* Clemson at Boston College, Oct. 18, time and TV TBD
Boston College coach: Steve Addazio (7-6, 2nd season)
Returning starters: 9 (three offense, six defense)
2013 record: 7-6, 4-4 ACC; T-3rd ACC Atlantic
Scoring offense: 27.7 points per game (T-70th in FBS)
Scoring defense: 28.9 points allowed (78th)
Series: Clemson 12-9-2, teams tied 6-6-1 in Chestnut Hill
Last meeting: Clemson 24, Boston College 14 (Oct. 12, 2013)
Golden Nugget line: Clemson by 18
Opposing beat writer to follow: @MBVega
Three things to know about Boston College
1. Williams' successors: Not only did Andre 2000 lead the land in rushing, and record a 6.1 yards-per-clip average (15th nationally among 1,000-yard rushers), but his 355 carries was the heaviest FBS workload as well. That didn't leave a lot of scraps for freshmen Myles Willis (60 car, 346 yards) and Tyler Rouse (26 car, 125 yards), though they each were reasonably productive and each scored a pair of touchdowns. You know that Addazio, who coached offensive lines at four major-conference programs from 1995-2008, will find ways to guzzle up yards on the ground, and it sure helps retaining the interior line from last year - even though his center and both guards are the offense's lone returning starters.
2. Questions on back end: Good news for Boston College's defensive backs: they return all four 2013 starters at cornerback and safety, a group including three seniors and a junior. Bad news: the Golden Eagles rated 113th in the country, or 13th-to-last, in passing defense (and worst in the ACC.) Begs the question of whether it's advantageous to return experienced players whose experience hasn't been particularly accomplished.
3. Having no fear: End of the first quarter: Boston College 14, No. 8 Florida State 3. End of the third quarter: Boston College 14, No. 3 Clemson 10, in Clemson. The Golden Eagles should enter this offseason content in knowing they stared down the ACC's premier programs; in the case of FSU, which eventually survived 48-34, the Seminoles never had a closer margin of victory until rallying to beat Auburn 34-31 in the BCS National Championship. Of course, Tajh Boyd's 6-yard TD scamper with under 14 minutes remaining put the Tigers on top and Beasley's defensive score off a fumble let Clemson breathe. But had Clemson's run defense on Williams (24 rushes, 70 yards) not been stellar, BC might have notched its biggest win since the Matt Ryan era. No doubt the Golden Eagles await another piece of the Tigers this coming October.
Week before: Louisville
Next week: Syracuse
On the horizon: @Georgia Tech, South Carolina