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College Football Picks: Florida State at Virginia Tech Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 11/5/2012

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Florida State Seminoles quarterback E.J. Manuel

Back in the summer, I certainly circled this Thursday’s game between Florida State and Virginia Tech as a likely dress rehearsal for the ACC Championship Game. FSU opened at No. 7 in the preseason AP Poll and was the heavy ACC favorite along with a national championship contender.
 
The Noles have mostly lived up to their hype, although an Oct. 6 stunning loss at NC State killed their national championship dreams. But FSU (8-1, 5-1) controls its own destiny to win the Atlantic Division and could do so this week if it beats the Hokies and Clemson (also 5-1, but lost head-to-head with FSU) loses to at home to Maryland (not happening). Florida State closes conference play at those Terps.

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Virginia Tech, meanwhile, has won the Coastal Division five of its seven years and the Hokies were big favorites to do so again, ranking No. 16 in the preseason AP Poll. But this year has been an utter disaster. Last Thursday’s loss at Miami officially put an end to Tech’s streak of eight straight seasons with at least 10 wins, which was tops in the nation. That left the Hurricanes controlling their own destiny to win the Coastal for the first time. Virginia Tech's only chance of winning the division is to beat FSU, Boston College and Virginia and Miami losing its final two ACC games.

The Hokies (4-5, 2-3) must win two of their final three just to reach a bowl game. Tech hasn’t missed postseason play since 1992. Its 19-year streak is third in the nation; FSU leads the way with 30 in a row.

Florida State at Virginia Tech Betting Storylines

Somehow, this is only FSU’s second game of the season outside of Florida. The other one was that upset at the Wolfpack. FSU has won every other game by at least 12 points and it put upstart Duke in its place with a 48-7 rout in its last game Oct. 27. That was Florida State’s first game playing without injured leading rusher Chris Thompson, who is done for the year. Devonta Freeman and James Wilder Jr. essentially split the carries in half vs. the Blue Devils, combining for 174 yards and three scores on 25 rushes. Seminoles kicker Dustin Hopkins became the ACC's career field goal leader in that game.

This figures to be an emotional night for FSU senior quarterback E.J. Manuel as it’s his first career college game in his native state. Virginia Tech heavily recruited the Virginia Beach star back in 2008, but the Hokies had signed five-star Hampton, Va., QB recruit Tyrod Taylor the year before, so Manuel didn’t want to be stuck behind him and chose Florida State. He is now the No. 2 rated QB in the nation, just behind Kansas State’s Collin Klein.

Virginia Tech looked simply terrible in last Thursday’s 30-12 loss in south Florida. Miami was outgained by nearly 80 yards, had the ball for about 10 minutes less and was 1-for-12 on third down. But the Hokies were a mess on special teams, which is shocking because that’s one of Coach Frank Beamer’s calling cards. Tech also turned the ball over three times in dropping to 25-3 all-time in November ACC games.

All five of Tech’s losses have come outside of Lane Stadium this season (one at a neutral site). Tech has three blowout wins at home of its four games there. In Thursday night ESPN games at home overall, the Hokies are 11-3. Virginia Tech is 5-9 at Lane vs. Top-10 opponents overall and has won two of its past three. The last was three years ago.

This is the first regular-season meeting between these schools since 2008; they did play in the 2010 ACC Championship Game, won 44-33 by Virginia Tech.

Florida State at Virginia Tech Betting Odds and Trends

On BookMaker, FSU is a 14-point favorite with the total at 51.5. Florida State is 3-5 ATS this season and 3-3-1 over/under. Virginia Tech is 2-7 ATS (one of worst marks in nation) and 4-4 O/U.

Florida State is 1-4 ATS in its past five after a win. Virginia Tech is 1-5 in its past six ACC games and has covered just once in its past six vs. teams with a winning record. The under is 6-0 in FSU’s past six road games. The under is 15-2 in Tech’s past 17 Thursday games. The favorite has covered in four of the past five meetings.

College Football Picks: Florida State at Virginia Tech Predictions

Virginia Tech is really a one-man show on offense in QB Logan Thomas, so I’m not sure how they will be able to score much against the nation’s top-rated total defense (227.1 ypg), No. 3 rush and scoring defense and No. 4 against the pass. Virginia Tech has averaged 63 more rushing yards per game and 2 extra yards per carry in its four wins. FSU’s opponents have managed only 14 running plays that have gone for more than 10 yards this season; Thomas had a 73-yard scoring scamper vs. Miami last week.

FSU’s offense hasn’t been anywhere near as good on the road. The Seminoles average 54 points and 584.5 yards at Doak Campbell but 26.6 points and 405 yards on the road. Florida State also trailed in the third quarter at both South Florida and Miami. Plus FSU has yet to win the past two seasons following a bye week. And the cold weather should favor Tech. So take the points and the under.

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