No. 13 Clemson Tigers (4-0 SU, 3-1 ATS) at No. 11 Virginia Tech Hokies (4-0 SU, 2-2 ATS), Saturday October 1st, 2011. 6:00PM EST, College Football Week 5,
Lane Stadium Blacksburg, Va
By Jay Horne, College Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Clem +6.5/V. Tech -6.5
Over/Under Total: OFF
The Clemson Tigers have shocked the nation for two straight weeks by upsetting the Auburn Tigers to end a 17 game Auburn winning streak and then by upsetting the no. 11 Florida State Seminoles to take the lead in the ACC Atlantic Division. As a result, the Tigers have sky rocketed in the polls. Clemson who was once unranked before the Auburn game, has since vaulted to the number 13 ranking in America after those two huge victories. This week the Clemson Tigers take their talent on the road for the first time this season as they travel to Lane Stadium to battle the no. 11 Virginia Tech Hokies in a game that may very well feature the two best the teams the ACC has to offer.
If the Tigers are going to pull off another incredible upset, they will have to do so in one of the toughest and most hostile environments in all of college football. Lane Stadium is not typically welcoming to opposing football teams and you can expect the stadium to be rocking Saturday night in the Hokies first big game. Therefore, there will be concerns as to how this young Clemson team will respond to playing in a hostile environment. However, the Tigers have been impressive on the offensive side of the football and they will present a challenge to the Hokies defense.
So far this season, the Clemson offense has averaged 505 yards per game to give them the 13th best overall offense in the country and the Tigers also rank 23rd in scoring averaging 37 points per game. Offensive coordinator Chad Morris has implemented a new spread offense for Clemson and so far it has paid big dividends. QB Tahj Boyd has been very impressive completing 66% passing for 1,255 yards with 12 touchdowns and 2 picks on the year. Boyd’s decision making was a question mark heading into the season, but he has played like an experienced veteran through the first few games. Boyd has been solid, but the most impressive offensive threat has been freshman WR Sammy Watkins.
Watkins has simply been electrifying making big plays in every game this season. The freakish freshman has unbelievable speed and can catch anything thrown his way. Watkins currently ranks 2nd in the ACC in receiving with 29 catches for 433 yards with 6 scores. Watkins has posted just less than 300 receiving yards in Clemson’s two big wins over the last two weeks and he must be a focus for the Hokies defense this Saturday. Watkins is most dangerous with the ball in his hands and Clemson will find ways to get him the ball. Therefore, it is imperative that the Virginia Tech secondary brings him down immediately after the catch.
Speaking of the Virginia Tech defense, they have played very well so far this season. The Hokies rank 4th in total defense holding opponents to 231 yards per game. Virginia Tech has also held opponents to an NCAA 10th best 10 points per game this season as well. The Hokies have some talented corners that should be able to match-up fairly well with those talented Clemson receivers.
However the key to thwarting that Clemson offense will be to get pressure on Tahj Boyd. The Clemson offensive line has protected Boyd very well over the last few games. However, this Bud Foster led defense is well known for coming up with schemes to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Therefore it will be interesting to see if the Hokies can get pressure on Boyd and to also see how Boyd responds if the Hokies are able to rattle his composure.
The Hokies offense will also have an opportunity to shine this Saturday night. Virginia Tech has currently averaged 34 points and 430 yards per game. The Hokies are led by a strong rushing attack that is responsible for more than 230 yards per game. Running back David Wilson leads the ACC with 519 rushing yards with 5 touchdowns and is the focus of the Hokies offensive attack. However, Virginia Tech is not exactly scared to throw the ball with QB Logan Thomas either.
Thomas has completed 57% passing for 761 yards with 4 scores and 4 picks on the year. While those numbers are rather average, WR Darren Coale is the go to guy in the receiving game with 285 yards on 18 catches and 1 score. Still, expect the Hokies to stick with their bread and butter with running back David Wilson. The Clemson defense had trouble defending the run in their win over Auburn so Virginia Tech will likely test that defensive line again with a heavy rushing attack.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I just do not think that Clemson can pull another win out of their hat this Saturday. This will be their first road game and they will not catch Virginia Tech in a letdown situation the way they did with Florida State last week. The Hokies defense has not given up more than 13 points in a single game this season. Even if Clemson doubles that to score 26, I do not believe it will be enough. Clemson’s defense has given up just less than 30 points in their last 3 games and I believe Virginia Tech will put up another solid number this Saturday. Take Virginia Tech -6.5.
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