Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
Two of the nation's top defenses will be featured on Saturday when Florida State hosts Boston College. FSU is No. 5 in the nation in total defense and Boston College is ninth, but the Eagles are holding opponents to 101.8 rushing yards per game.
That's an important aspect of this matchup, considering the Noles are a run-first offense. Florida State ranks 19th in the country in rushing offense with 205 yards per game. That's second only to Georgia Tech in the ACC.
FSU's success has been a mix of veteran running back Antone Smith and his protégé, Jermaine Thomas. In order for them to continue it, though, the young offensive line will have to continue to play older than it is.
"Their two inside guys are huge, but they're athletic," FSU offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher said of B.J. Raji and Ron Brace. "They're not just big guys who don't move. They constantly move. They constantly fire zone you. They're constantly moving up front, the ends are very good. The backers always play with great leverage. No. 94 [Mark Herzlich] is always around the football, making plays all over the dadgum place. And you don't see big plays against them.
"You don't see guys just running wide open down the field, getting one-on-ones. They make you have patience. They play the run extremely well. ... They make you execute to beat them."
Notre Dame couldn't even score against BC, let alone beat them. The Irish had just 66 rushing yards. BC has been winning games with its defense, and the Eagles have done it without injured starters Brian Toal and Alex Albright.
"We've had three shutouts this year, so they're playing well as a unit. I think that Frank [Spaziani] is doing a phenomenal job putting those guys in a position to succeed. They're playing well, and that's without two starters. Those coaches are doing a great job over there plugging guys in."