Scrap-fest Between Duke and Virginia Tech To Stay 'Under'

sports betting and Big Picks

Rainman M.

Thursday, October 26, 2017 1:19 PM GMT

Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017 1:19 PM GMT

#13 Virginia Tech (6-1) hosts Duke (4-4) this Saturday at 7:20 PM ET. The game total has bounced between 47 and 49.

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Free NCAAF Pick: 'Under' 48.5
Best Line Offered: Bookmaker

 

Duke vs. Virginia Tech Preview

Duke is most successful when relying on their running game.  They are 3-1 ATS in games vs Power-5 teams when they run more often than pass  On the flip-side, Virginia Tech is 0-2 ATS when their Power-5 opponent runs at least as much as passes, but 2-0 ATS when they pass more than run.

Because Duke will want to establish its running game and Virginia Tech will want Duke to have to pass, the key match-up is between Duke's rush attack and Virginia Tech's rush defense.

Duke is riding a 4 game losing streak because their running game, which relies almost equally on Shaun Wilson and Brittain Brown, has slumped. Wilson averaged 6.1 yards per carry in September, with a long run of 65 and 5 touchdowns. But in October, he is averaging 4.4 yards with a long run of 16 yards and zero touchdowns. From September to October, Brown's average dropped from 6 yards per carry to 5.4, a long of 39 yards to 19 yards, and 2 touchdowns to 1 touchdown.

Quarterback Daniel Jones, too, is regressing. This season, his yards per attempt is down .8, his completion % is down nearly 8, and his touchdown to interception ratio is down from 16:9 to 8:6.

Jones has not developed chemistry with his receivers, each of whom carries a low catch rate when he targets them. The one exception is the running back, Wilson, who averages 6.7 yards per reception. Virginia Tech's pass defense is highly ranked in several categories, for instance, 14th in quarterback rating allowed. West Virginia's prolific passer Will Grier had his worst game of the season, in terms of quarterback rating, against Virginia Tech.

This Virginia Tech secondary, which is returning all of its starters from last season besides their replaceable free safety, will prolong the struggles of Duke's wide receiving corps to find open space and make plays for the declining Jones. Duke's dwindling run game and their inconsistent protection only hurt Duke's offensive production.

The Hokies are putting up sexy numbers offensively. However, the only top-90 defense that they have faced has been Clemson, against whom they mustered 3 points in the first 3 quarters in a decisive defeat.

The pass defense has been Duke's specialty. They rank 39th in terms of opposing QB rating. By staying healthy and establishing continuity, Duke's secondary has improved its communication and play recognition in order to allow fewer big plays. Jeremy McDuffie and Mark Gilbert utilize their ball defending skills in order to place among ACC leaders with combined 17 passes defended.

Virginia Tech quarterback Josh Jackson receives his second-biggest test in the season. The Freshman has thrown 3 interceptions in 3 ACC games. He shouldn't count on support from his running game, which is averaging 3.1 yards per carry against ACC competition. The longest run from a Virginia Tech running back this season is just 35 yards.

The Verdict

Duke games have hit 6 straight 'under' for our college football picks. The Blue Devils struggle to score behind an anemic pass attack and declining run game that opponents are increasingly prepared for. Meanwhile, their improving defense stays competitive and should challenge the Hokies' limited and rather untested offense, which, sandwiched in between a motivated effort against North Carolina last week and a showdown at Miami next week, lacks the determination to blow out Duke, even if they could. Expect an ugly game in the rain.

 

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