Free CFB Pick: Virginia vs. Virginia Tech
The Thanksgiving holiday weekend is a time to renew classic rivalries in college football, and that will clearly be the case this upcoming Saturday afternoon in Blacksburg when the Virginia Cavaliers square off against the Virginia Tech Hokies in each team’s final ACC game of the season. Kickoff from Lane Stadium is slated for noon (ET) and the game will be broadcast nationally on ESPNU.
Virginia dug itself such a deep hole with a six-game losing streak that, even with a victory in this game to go along with the two wins in its last three games, would not be enough to qualify for a bowl game. The Cavaliers come into this showdown at 4-7 straight-up and a woeful 1-9-1 against the spread. The total has stayed “under” in three of its last four games.
Virginia Tech has lost as many games this season as it did the last two years combined, but at 5-6 SU ( 3-8 ATS) it could still end up bowl eligible with a win. The Hokies are 4-1 SU and 3-2 ATS at home this season with the total going OVER in five of their last seven games overall.
The Cavaliers pulled out of this season’s tailspin with an impressive 33-6 victory over North Carolina State in Week 10 as 10.5-point road underdogs followed by a 41-40 shootout win over Miami (FL) as two-point home favorites two weeks ago, but overall this team still has major problems on both sides of the ball. The quarterback tandem of Michael Rocco and Phillip Sims has done a decent job of moving the ball downfield through the air with an average of 275.4 yards per game, but Virginia’s running game has been almost nonexistent at times this year. The result has been an offense that is ranked 91st in the nation in scoring with an average of 23.5 points a game.
Defensively, the Cavaliers have done a good job against some of the weaker teams in the ACC, but overall they are giving up an average of 30 points a game. Last Saturday, the defense gave up 37 points in a loss to North Carolina and has now allowed 35 points or more in five of its last nine games.
The Hokies have lacked any kind of consistency for most of the season with respectable showings in losses to Clemson and Florida State to go along with SU losses to Pitt, Cincinnati, and the Hurricanes. They have much better balance on offense than Virginia with a passing game that is averaging 243.6 yards per game and a ground game that grinding out 156.3 yards per game. Quarterback Logan Thomas has thrown for 2,654 yards and 16 touchdowns, but he is completing just 53.1 percent of his passes and has been picked off 14 times.
Under head coach Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech had always been known for playing solid defense, but this year’s squad has already been burnt for 35 points against the Panthers and 48 points against the Tar Heels. It has also been plagued with breakdowns in the secondary at crucial times of the game that have led to easy scores by its opponents.
Betting Odds and Trends by 5Dimes
Pointspread: Virginia Tech -11
Total Line: OFF
The Cavaliers are 1-7 ATS in their last eight games against the ACC and 1-4 ATS in their last five road games. The total has stayed under in 17 of their last 25 games overall.
The Hokies are 3-7-1 ATS in their last 11 home games and 2-6 ATS in their last eight games against the conference. The total has stayed under in 15 of their last 21 games following a SU win.
Head-to-head, the favorite is 9-1 ATS in the last 10 meetings and the total has stayed under in the last five games at Virginia Tech. Virginia is 0-8 SU and 1-7 ATS in the last eight games between the two.
The Hokies have dominated this in-state rivalry for the past decade or so, but this year is probably the closest these two teams have been talent-wise. Look for Virginia Tech to get that all-important sixth victory this Saturday afternoon, but take the Cavaliers to cover with the 11 points.
Take #149 Virginia (+11) over Virginia Tech (Saturday, Nov.24, 12 p.m.)
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