Virginia Tech has an offense to go along with its always fine defense this year, and that could mean major revenge for an upset home loss last year now visiting East Carolina.
Revenge could be in order in an ACC vs. AAC matchup on Saturday when those Virginia Tech Hokies (2-1, 2-1 ATS) look to atone for a home loss last season this time paying a visit to the East Carolina Pirates (1-2, 1-2 ATS) at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium in Greenville, NC at 3:30 ET in a game televised nationally on either ESPN2 or ABC.
The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Virginia Tech as a double-digit road favorite for this contest with the current line at -10 with odds of -102.
Bud Foster Doing it Again
Now, we are generally not fond of giving double-digits with any team, nor do we like betting road favorites, but we are going against our character here and doing both without hesitation! In fact this is the second straight week that we have backed Virginia Tech as road chalk, and the results were positive in a 51-24 romp vs. Purdue last week.
Longtime Hokies defensive coordinator Bud Foster is one of the best in the country at his job, and he has orchestrated a defense that has created nine turnovers in three games and that made young Purdue quarterback Austin Appleby look like a deer in headlights last week. Now, Foster gets a chance to take advantage of another inexperienced quarterback here in Blake Kemp.
East Carolina meanwhile has yet to be a winning college football pick vs. an FBS school this year, and even the opening win over an FCS squad was very unimpressive in a 28-20 triumph over Towson. The Pirates come off of a 45-21 shellacking absorbed at Navy last week in which they had no answers for the triple option, surrendering 415 rushing yards on 5.5 yards per carry.
Last season, East Carolina travelled into Blacksburg and upset Virginia Tech 28-21 as a 9½-point underdog. The Hokies have not forgotten and, most importantly, the directions that there teams have taken since last season are such that Virginia Tech seems well equipped to extract revenge here in a big way, and returning that favor on East Carolina’s home field would only add to the satisfaction.
There are almost never any concerns about the Virginia Tech defense under Forster, who is notorious for his intricate blitzing schemes that are most effective vs. younger quarterbacks. However, a major difference this season compared to last year is that the Hokies now have an offense after being pedestrian in that department for a few years actually.
The 2015 version of Virginia Tech is averaging 39.0 points and 458.0 total yards per game with nice balance, averaging 221.7 rushing yards on 4.7 yards per carry and 236.3 passing yards on an impressive 8.6 yards per attempt. Brenden Motley took over as the starting quarterback after the Hokies lost the season opener 42-24 to top ranked Ohio State and he has not disappointed, completing 61.4 percent of his passes for 489 yards and five touchdowns.
Motley has also shown off his legs at times adding 79 yards on the ground and two rushing touchdowns.
Pirates Not as Good as Last Year
East Carolina was good enough to go to the Birmingham Bowl last year and the Pirates were competitive in a 28-20 loss to Florida of the SEC. However, much has changed offensively since last season, first and foremost the departure of quarterback Shane Carden, who owns the East Carolina record for career passing yards at nearly 12,000. The Pirates could perhaps also be feeling the loss of offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley, now at Oklahoma.
With a new coordinator in Dave Nichol and a new quarterback in Kemp, the ECU offense has taken a noticeable step back so far averaging just 24.3 points and 392.7 yards per game. Granted Kemp has completed 70.7 percent of his passes, but he has not really taken as many shots downfield as Carden did with regularity, averaging only 6.3 yards per pass attempt. Now Kemp faces a Foster defense in just his fourth career game, which has to be disconcerting.
And the news is just as bleak on the other end of the field as the East Carolina defense is allowing 415.0 yards per game on 4.9 yards per rush and 7.4 yards per pass attempt. The Pirates rank 122nd nationally in rushing defense yielding 254 yards per game, as while they are 24th in passing defense allowing just 161.0 yards per contest, that is mainly because they faced a Navy team that just about runs exclusively and their other two opponents did not need to pass much.
This Virginia Tech rushing attack should have no trouble running the ball either and the Hokies now have a quarterback in Motley that can take shots if the East Carolina defense tries to compensate for its ineffectiveness in stopping the run by adding a defender in the box.
Poor Defense Breeds ATS Failure
Finally, East Carolina allowed 456 total yards to Navy last week as the Pirates are 1-10 ATS in their last 11 games after allowing more than 450 total yards in their previous game. Meanwhile Virginia Tech is 4-0 ATS in its last four games after allowing less than 275 total yards in its previous game.
Virginia Tech has a much better offense this year to go along with its customarily great defense and East Carolina is not as good as the team that upset the Hokies in Blacksburg last season, so there is potential for a Hokies’ blowout in a big revenge spot in Greenville on Saturday.
College Football Pick: Virginia Tech -10 (-102)