Virginia Tech Hokies at West Virginia Mountaineers Expert NCAA Football Picks and Predictions
Virginia Tech Hokies at West Virginia Mountaineers, Sunday Sept. 3, 7:30 p.m. ET
We are witnessing the rebirth of a rivalry on Sunday night. These teams will be contesting the Black Diamond Trophy for the 52nd time but for the first time since 2005. Virginia Tech brings a two-game winning streak in the series - which is, of course, completely irrelevant given the pace of change in college football.
Coming into this game I keep hearing about how confident West Virginia is feeling coming into this one. To be honest, I can't for the life of me figure out why. They have a head coach who should have been fired already, an offensive savior who isn't likely to save anything, and an offensive line that will imitate a sieve all year long. I'm giving away the ending of this article at the start, which isn't good practice, but I can't help it - I just don't like much about this West Virginia team.
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Virginia Tech at West Virginia Betting Storylines
Let's start with the QB. West Virginia fans are excited - and I am not making this up - by Will Grier. The same Will Grier who hasn't played since testing positive for PEDs in October of 2015 while at Florida. The Will Grier who has six career starts and whose best game came against an Ole Miss team that somehow managed to win at Alabama and lose at Memphis in the same season. If Grier is the most exciting thing about your team then your team just isn't very exciting. Grier is working with a receiving corps that is a big question mark, he is behind an offensive line that has two good players - which is a challenge because two is less than five, and there are five offensive line spots -- and he's facing a Virginia Tech secondary that is both experienced and talented. Virginia Tech faced six quarterbacks last year that went on to be drafted - a remarkable stat by itself. Five of the six had a substandard day, including second overall pick Mitch Trubisky. The only one who didn't was Clemson's Deshaun Watson, and he had just a bit better talent around him than Grier will. To suggest that Grier is going to save this team - ever, but especially in this game - is bordering on crazy.
Virginia Tech can't claim a massive advantage at QB because they have true freshman Josh Jackson tabbed to start, but he is behind a significantly better line, and the Hokies, at the very least, don't give anything up at the position. And though Jackson is a true freshman, nothing he sees will be new to him. He is the son of Fred Jackson, who was an assistant at Michigan from 1992-2014, so the younger Jackson grew up around a very big program. Jackson has QB mentors, including some guy named Tom Brady, who will apparently be talking to Jackson on Saturday in preparation for the start. The son of a coach who grew up at the high levels of the sport and who gets advice from the best of the best - sounds like different than your average true freshman to me.
Let's talking coaching. Justin Fuente is very impressive. You listen to him for even just a couple of minutes and you want to jump off the couch and give him your all. He did a great job in his first year, and he is only just beginning. Dana Holgorsen, meanwhile, is six years in, and though last year was his best year since his debut in 2011, to suggest that he is a vibrant, fresh coach at this point would just be a lie. He won 10 games last year, and that really feels like his ceiling at West Virginia - and a mark I just don't see him reaching this year. There are worse coaches than Holgorsen for sure, but this West Virginia team isn't going anywhere significant under him, and the time for a fresh voice has been here for at least two years. Virginia Tech has a massive advantage on this front.
Virginia Tech at West Virginia Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened with Virginia Tech favored by 4.5 and, to my delight, has since fallen to four points . Nearly 60 percent of bets have been placed on the Mountaineers, so the line moving is consistent with expectations. The total sits at 51.5, with the "under" being slightly favorable to bettors so far.
The Mountaineers are 2-5 ATS in their last seven games overall, 1-4 ATS in their last five nonconference games, and they haven't covered in their last four neutral-site games. The Hokies are 4-0 ATS in their last four and also 4-0 ATS in their last four games played on a Sunday.
Virginia Tech at West Virginia Predictions and Picks
This will come as a major shock to you if you have read this far, but I am not picking West Virginia. The Hokies have a massive coaching edge, deeper talent, and they match up well against Will Grier. There is value in this line. Take the Hokies.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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