Virginia Tech Hokies (4-2 SU, 3-3 ATS) vs. Pittsburgh Panthers (3-3 SU, 3-3 ATS)
College Football Week 8
Date and Time: Thursday October 16th, 2014. 7:30PM EST
Where: Heinz Field Pittsburgh, P.A.
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: VT -3/Pitt +3
Over/Under Total: 47
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Primetime Thursday night college football action returns to the ACC this Thursday when the Virginia Tech Hokies meet the Pittsburgh Panthers at Heinz Field. At 1-1 in conference play, both teams are very much alive in the wide open ACC Coastal division. The Hokies were the favorites in the ACC Coastal to start the season but suffered early back to back losses to East Carolina and Georgia Tech. Meanwhile Pittsburgh has lost 3 straight including last weeks 24-19 defeat to Virginia in their first conference loss of the season. The Panthers now look to rebound against Virginia Tech who they have beaten in 4 of their last 5 meetings.
Pittsburgh has not only had the upper hand in recent memory against Virginia Tech straight up but they have also covered the mark in 6 of their last 7 meetings as well. This week the Panthers enter Thursday nights home stand struggling on the offensive side of the football. The Panthers have been held to 20 point or less in each of their last 3 games that have resulted in losses. If we break down the Pittsburgh offense it is fairly easy to identify their issues which reside behind center at the quarterback position. The Panthers run the ball well averaging 243 yards per game and put a lot of focus on putting the ball in the hands of sophomore running back James Conner. Conner ranks 5th in the FBS with 874 rushing yards and has compiled 9 touchdowns on the ground as well.
While Pittsburgh typically moves the ball effectively on the ground, the issues start when they are forced into passing situations. Young sophomore quarterback Chad Voytik has completed just 58% of his passes for 949 yards with 8 scores and 5 picks through 6 games. To break that statistic down further, that is just 158 passing yards per game which ranks 116th in the FBS. It is obvious that coach Paul Chryst does not have much confidence in the quarterback play which has been evident all season by the choice of play calling. It will be interesting to see if Pittsburgh can keep Voytik in low pressure situations behind center this Thursday night against a very well-coached Bud Foster defense in Virginia Tech.
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Virginia Tech has yet to give up more than 28 points this season and owns the 23rd best scoring defense in the country giving up just 19.8 points on average. Despite being 4-2 SU, the Hokies could easily be 6-0 as both of their losses to East Carolina and Georgia Tech were winnable games. Instead the Hokies are still trying to prove they are the best in the ACC Coastal. The Hokies offense has been rather average on paper ranking 65th in passing, 60th in rushing, and 64th in scoring.
Quarterback Michael Brewer has complimented a decent rushing attack with fairly solid numbers throwing the football. However, Brewers 10 touchdowns compared to 11 interceptions ratio is rather disappointing. The 11 interceptions is the 2nd worse total in the FBS and 5 of those picks come in the Hokies two losses this season. Therefore the outcome of this game could easily come down to the team that limits the mistakes. Both the Panthers and the Hokies have combined for 23 turnovers this year which is a high mark for each team. Therefore this game that book makers have separated by just 3 points could be easily influenced by the turnovers that take place throughout the game this Thursday night as both defenses should have the upper hand in this contest.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: This should be a rather interesting game as both offenses have really struggled this season. A few big stops on defense, a key turnover, or a big offensive play could play a big factor towards deciding the winner. I believe this will be a close game that is highlighted by defense. Take the under 47 as a solid play this Thursday night!