College Football Picks: North Carolina at Virginia Tech Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 11/15/2011
No. 9 Virginia Tech was good to us last week in beating Georgia Tech on ESPN’s Thursday night college football telecast, easily covering the one point it was giving. Now the Hokies (9-1, 5-1 ACC) seem a near lock to win the ACC’s Coastal Division yet again.
Only Virginia has a chance to unseat Virginia Tech, but the Cavaliers would have to win this week at Florida State (not happening) and then beat the Hokies in the regular-season finale.
Virginia Tech QB Logan Thomas was brilliant in the 37-26 win over the Jackets, accounting for five touchdowns for the second time this season. He threw only 13 times but for 209 yards and three scores and rushed 18 times for 70 yards and two touchdowns.
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RB David Wilson had his seventh straight 100-yard game (he has been under triple digits in just one game) with 175 yards on 23 carries.
The Tar Heels (6-4, 2-4) have been off since a very ugly 13-0 loss to N.C. State on Nov. 5, UNC’s third loss in the past four games. Freshman RB Giovani Bernard became the first Heel to reach 1,000 yards rushing in 14 years, but the Heels were held to all of three total rushing yards and turned the ball over three times.
Virginia Tech is 6-1 against UNC since joining the ACC and won last year in Chapel Hill, 26-10. The last time these two played in Blacksburg, in 2009, the Heels pulled off a 20-17 upset.
North Carolina at Virginia Tech Betting Storylines
A big reason for those offensive struggles by the Heels against the Wolfpack can somewhat be credited to a concussion suffered by starting quarterback Bryn Renner. The sophomore suffered the injury during the first half of that one and was replaced by Brad Hanson.
Renner was just 9-for-17 for 76 yards and two interceptions against N.C. State. He had a 74-yard touchdown pass to Dwight Jones wiped out by a penalty on the play in which he took a hard hit that may have been the culprit. But Renner will start Thursday and has been practicing since last Thursday.
Renner, a first-year starter, leads the ACC and ranks eighth nationally in passing efficiency. He has completed 71.4 percent of his passes for 2,271 yards and 19 touchdowns with 11 interceptions. He is four shy of tying the school's single-season record for touchdown passes.
But Renner has been sacked a ton: 22 times.
By the way, speaking of Jones, he needs just 87 yards to give UNC a 1,000-yard rushing-receiving combination for the first time in school history. Jones would become just the second player in UNC history with 1,000 receiving yards (Hakeem Nicks).
Virginia Tech made some defensive changes against Georgia Tech, but that was team-specific to deal with the Jackets’ option offense. So those changes -- J.R. Collins at tackle, Tyrel Wilson at end, Jack Tyler at inside linebacker and Kyle Fuller at whip linebacker -- are no more.
Barquell Rivers will start at inside linebacker, Collins moves back to end and Luther Maddy or Corey Marshall will start at tackle.
The team is hoping whip linebacker Alonzo Tweedy will be able to play after missing two weeks because of an ankle sprain. If he’s not available, coordinator Bud Foster said the Hokies would likely play their nickel package with a cornerback serving as the whip linebacker.
North Carolina at Virginia Tech Betting Odds and Trends
The Hokies opened as 10.5-point favorites with the total at 47 on college football odds. There’s about a 70-percent lean on Virginia Tech.
The Hokies are 3-7 ATS overall and 1-4 at home. UNC is 4-6 ATS overall and 1-3 on the road. Tech is 4-5-1 on the ‘over/under’ with UNC at 5-5.
The Heels are 4-0 ATS in their past four as a dog of at least 10.5. The Hokies are 0-5 ATS in their past five as a favorite of 10.5 or more. The ‘over’ is 4-0 in UNC’s past four as a road dog. The ‘under’ is 4-0 in past four meetings.
The road team has covered in the past five meetings.
College Football Picks: North Carolina at Virginia Tech Betting Predictions
Expect a low-scoring game (so take the ‘under’) because both clubs are still run-dependent (plus it will be quite cold). The Hokies rank second in the ACC, allowing just 102.0 rushing yards per game, while the Tar Heels are third, giving up only 108.3 per game.
The first quarter should tell us which Heels team will show up. North Carolina has outscored its opponents 49-0 in the first quarter of its six wins. In the four losses, opponents are outscoring UNC, 37-14.
I see little chance the Heels win here considering they are 1-3 on the road and that one win came against a mediocre-at-best East Carolina team. (the Pirates lost at home 35-20 to Heels and 17-10 to Hokies, for what it’s worth).
Should UNC beat the Hokies they would be the highest-ranked team Carolina has defeated since a 31-28 win over No. 4 Miami in 2004 and the highest-ranked team UNC has beaten on the road since 1996. However, the Hokies are always good on Thursday nights, 18-5 overall and 10-2 at home.
Still, the Heels have some playmakers on both sides of the ball and should be able to hang within 10. So take them and the points.
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