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Louisville, Boston College make it to field at last (maybe)

BOSTON - Even making it to Thanksgiving without a single positive COVID-19 test didn’t spare Boston College from the schedule shuffling that has hit college football this season.

The Eagles’ game against Louisville has filled four different slots on the schedule. If the teams make it to kickoff on Saturday, that will be an accomplishment in itself.

“You can’t get mad. You can’t scratch your head. You’ve just got to get ready and feel lucky that we’re playing football,” BC coach Jeff Hafley said. “Anybody right now who is saying, ‘I can’t believe this is happening.’ Let’s just be fortunate we’re playing ball, we get another chance to play. Hopefully we’ll get these next two games in.”

Originally scheduled for October before the pandemic delayed the start of the season, the game was moved to the Friday after Thanksgiving when the Atlantic Coast Conference reissued the schedule, then to Dec. 12 and then back to Thanksgiving week, with a kickoff time at 4 p.m. Saturday.

That saved BC (5-4, 4-4 ACC) from having back-to-back bye weeks, while giving Louisville (3-6, 2-6) a chance to build on a 30-0 victory over Syracuse last week that was their first shutout over a Power Five team since 2004.

The Cardinals have not won consecutive games all season. They have not won an ACC game on the road since last November.

Here are some more things to look for in Chestnut Hill:

NEEDED THE REST

BC quarterback Phil Jurkovec said the bye week helped him treat his right shoulder, which has been sore since the second half of the Oct. 31 game against Clemson, though it did not keep him out.

“My body was a little banged up, so getting that break was great for a lot of us after going nine weeks in a row,” he said. “I feel like we’ve reset, and the week off with no contact and limited throwing helped.”

Jurkovec has already completed 190 passes — the most for a sophomore in school history. With 395 more yards passing in the next two games, he would surpass Doug Flutie’s sophomore record of 2,749 yards in 1981. Jurkovec is five touchdowns short of Glenn Foley’s 21 in his second year, 1991.

IMPERFECT PLAYMAKER

Louisville quarterback Malik Cunningham has surpassed 2,000 yards passing for the second consecutive season and is completing nearly 64% of his attempts, a career high. The junior also has more than 400 yards rushing for the third year in a row, including a career-best 197 at Virginia two weeks ago. Cunningham’s biggest flaw this season has been interceptions: His 11 picks are more than double his 2019 total (five), including six over the past three contests.

TURNOVERS

If Saturday’s game turns on turnovers, the edge seems to favour Boston College. The Eagles are second in the nation with 17 turnovers forced. Louisville has coughed it up 18 times — fourth worst in the FBS.

DEFENSIVE IMPROVEMENT

Louisville’s shutout of Syracuse was big for a defence that has come a long way since last season. The Cardinals rank fourth in ACC total defence at 363.8 yards allowed per game, 76.1 fewer than a year ago, and seven points fewer as well. Their pass defence tops the ACC at 178.9 yards per game, though they rank next to last with just four interceptions.
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