Virginia Cavaliers (5-6 SU, 7-3-1 ATS) vs. Virginia Tech Hokies (5-6 SU, 4-7 ATS)
College Football Week 14
Date and Time: Friday, November 28, 2014 at 8:00PM EST
Where: Lane Stadium, Blacksburg, Virginia
by Scott, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: VIRG -1/VT +1
Over/Under Total: Off
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In Friday ACC action, the Virginia Cavaliers travel in-state to Blackburg to face the Virginia Tech Hokies. Virginia broke a 4-game losing streak last week with a big 30-13 win at home over Miami. The Hokies, meanwhile, lost their 4th in 5 games with an unsightly 6-3 double overtime loss to Wake Forest. Times are tough for both teams, but the winner of this game becomes bowl-eligible.
Watching the way Virginia Tech has played in recent games, its hard to believe they were ranked at one point and seemed to be a team on the rise. They won their first two games, including a win over the 8th ranked Ohio State Buckeyes. But a week three loss to East Carolina signaled the beginning of a rough patch. Other than a win over ranked Duke a few weeks ago, theyve been hard to watch, with 6 losses in 9 games.
Virginia has seen their own troubles this season. They also began the season strongly, with a close road loss to UCLA and a win over ranked Louisville. But just as it looked like Virginia was due for a major turnaround, they resumed their mediocre ways. After beating Louisville and Pittsburgh, they went on to lose conference games to Duke, North Carolina, Georgia Tech, and Florida State. But beating Miami was a positive sign and showed that the Cavaliers may be poised to finish the year on a good note.
Injuries have really limited Virginia Tech on offense. Under ideal conditions, their offense wasnt very good, barely able to hang in there while their defense kept them in games. But with most of their top offensive players hurt this season, the offense has been like a stick in the mud more often than not. Last week against Wake Forest, they were shut out through 4 quarters and only managed a field goal in two overtimes. The silver lining is a defense that also allowed no pints through 4 quarters of play.
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Its not easy to determine how much blame to attribute to Hokies quarterback Michael Brewer. The line has underperformed and he works with a thin cast of genuine playmakers, especially in light of massive injuries. But for the most part, its been a big struggle for Brewer to get this offense moving. With the offense tattered by losses in the running back department, Brewer has taken to the air more, with very mixed results.
If not for the utter ineptitude at times by the Hokies offense, wed be talking about how good the defense is. They are 22nd in total yards allowed and 19th in points allowed at just over 20 a game. Against the pass, they are ranked 12th. In fact, Virginia has some things in common with their in-state conference rival.
Virginia also struggles in scoring points, ranked 8th in total offense. Their run game has been highly-pedestrian, with their aerial attack being only slightly more serviceable. But like their opponent, defense is whats allowed their season to not become a total disaster. Giving up only 113 yards in the run per game, Virginia should be able to keep a lid on the V-Tech ground-game, meaning it will be up to Brewer to do most of the heavy lifting.
Though Virginia is playing close to home, their offense has stagnated on the road for the most part this season. In their last three games, theyve scored 10, 20, and 30 points, so theyre headed in the right direction. Sophomore quarterback Greyson Lambert has been OK, but like Brewer, he struggles moving the ball in a consistent manner and is prone to throwing the pick. Running backs Kevin Parks and Khalek Shepherd have been less-than-ideal and the receiving crew can be solid, but lacks real game-changing talent. Darius Jennings, Canaan Severin, and Taquan Mizzell are good players and its safe to say that with all the injuries to the Hokies, there is a bit more pep on the Cavaliers offense heading into this game.
For at least one of these teams, this is the end of the 2014 season. Look for both squads to be energized like a marathoner running the final mile. For Virginia Tech, this is a chance to at least finish the season well. It showed so much promise early, only to later bottom-out to the point where they need this win just to get to .500. For Virginia, this game could decide the fate of head coach Mike London. And for both teams, a bowl game might lie in the balance. I see a Virginia team with slightly more momentum and desperation winning a tight one in a game where points may be precious. Ill take the Cavaliers.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Virginia Cavaliers minus 1 point.