#8 Virginia Tech Hokies (9-2) -3.5, 39 O/U at #16 Virginia Cavaliers (9-2) +3.5, 39 O/U Scott Stadium, 12 PM Eastern, Saturday
by Badger of Predictem.com
Not only will the bragging rights for the state of Virginia be on the line when the Hokies travel to play the Cavaliers Saturday in Charlottesville, but so will the Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal Division title. The winner will earn a birth in the ACC Championship game versus Boston College.
Virginia Tech (9-2, 6-1 ACC) has owned the series versus Virginia lately, a series that dates back to the late 1890s. The Hokies have won three straight, and seven of the past eight, including the last one played at Scott Stadium two years ago, 52-14.
But that was against a different Virginia (9-2, 6-1) team. This years Cavalier team has rebounded really well from an embarrassing season opening loss at Wyoming, 23-3. The Cavaliers are coming off of a 48-0 victory over Miami at the Orange Bowl two weeks ago, one of their most impressive wins ever since they started playing in the ACC.
Sportsbooks opened this game with Virginia Tech as a 3.5-point favorite, with a 39.5 total.
As the low 39.5-point total would indicate, you can expect a defensive battle in Charlottesville Saturday. Or more appropriately, expect an offensive struggle, as neither team is exceptionally strong on the offensive side of the ball.
Virginia Techs offense is ranked 103rd overall in the country with an average of 326.5 yards per game. Quarterback Sean Glennon (1,180 yards passing) has played better of late, and they still have a solid running back in Brandon Ore (677 yards rushing, 9 TDs), but the Hokies are inconsistent and are prone to making mistakes.
Virginia is only slightly better with the ball (336.6 ypg - 100th), but they have improved during the season as quarterback Jameel Sewell has gotten more comfortable running the offense. The Cavaliers do throw the ball a little better (207.6 ypg) then they run it (129 ypg), but thats because their leading rusher on the season, Cedric Peerman, was knocked out for the season in October with a broken ankle. You could even say the Cavaliers have gotten this far this season with smoke and mirrors, because five of their wins this season have been by two points or less.
The Hokies have tradition of fielding a strong defense and excellent special teams, and this year is no different. Virginia Techs defense is ranked 5th overall (289.4 ypg), is stout versus the run (85.2 ypg - 8th), and allows just 14.9 points per game (4th) through their first 11 outings.
Virginia also relies on a strong defense, led by defensive end Chris Long. Overall they rank 19th allowing 315.5 yards per game, and the are 11th in the nation in allowing just 17.5 points per game.Virginia Tech is a lackluster 5-5 ATS in 2007, but they seem to play better on the road with a 3-1 ATS record. Those same numbers hold true in regards to the total, as the Hokies are 5-5 overall versus the total, but 3-1 on the road.
Every number from the Cavaliers is ugly, as far as sports bettors go. They are just 5-6 ATS, including a non-home field advantage 2-3 record. The Cavs are also 4-6-1 on over/under bets, again with a 2-3 home record. They have failed to cover in four of their last six, but they have gone over the total in two of their last three.
Its hard to get a good read on this game, since most sportsbooks havent moved the number off of 3.5 since it opened. Does that mean the oddsmakers got it right from the start? Or is there just not enough action on this game to warrant a line change? The total did drop a half-point to 39 since it opened at 39.5.
Badgers Pick: This is a hard game to gauge. Virginia Tech has owned the Cavaliers ever since Al Groh took over the program (Groh is 1-5 vs. Frank Beamer). But the Cavs are not only coming off of an ultra- impressive win over Miami, theyve also had the bye week to prepare for their heated rival. I still think Tech is the better team, but my gut tells me to take the home underdog in this one. Take Virginia and the points.