Virginia Tech on Upset Alert Friday Night at UVA

Virginia Cavaliers

Rainman M.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017 2:38 PM UTC

Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017 2:38 PM UTC

Virginia (6-5) hosts rival Virginia Tech (8-3) Friday at 8 PM on ESPN. The Hokies are favored by a touchdown to prolong their 13 game win streak against Virginia.

 

Virginia Tech Hokies vs Virginia Cavaliers

The key for Virginia is the success of their passing attack. The 'Hoos are 7th in pass play percentage. They are 3-0 ATS vs ACC opponents when they pass for 249+ yards.

Quarterback Kurt Benkert leads Virginia with his live arm, improving accuracy at all parts of the field, and pocket presence.

He has two big-play receivers. One is the well-sized yet agile Joe Reed, who achieved a 75 yard touchdown catch last week and distinguishes himself in the kick return game. Another is the speedy Andre Levrone, who averages 20+ yards per catch. Olamide Zaccheaus is thriving in his expanded role this season and leads the team with 76 receptions.

Benkert also helps his supporting crew by buying time to throw and giving his receivers more time to find separation. 

Tech's D-line will struggle to apply pressure against Virginia's 49th-ranked pass protection and to help its secondary whose pass defense rating masks its recent injuries. The Hokies' key loss is free safety Terrell Edmunds, the leader of their defense in terms of statistics and leadership. They will miss his energy, play-calling, tackling efficiency and coverage skills. VT has surrendered 10.3 yards per pass attempt in their past few games, which would place them last, in large part due to their thinned secondary, which is struggling to support their two NFL-caliber cornerbacks.

Defensively, UVA has accrued experience against mobile quarterbacks and has proven able to sack them at above-average rates. They accrued 9 sacks combined against the respective mobile quarterback of Indiana, Duke, and Miami, whose O-lines, like that of Virginia Tech, rank outside the top 50 in sack % allowed.

Virginia's secondary is tough in preventing opposing quarterbacks from entering into a rhythm. The 'Hoos rank 13th in opposing completion % allowed. Their greater experience allows them to play more, and thrive at, press coverage, which should make it difficult for VT's receivers to get open. 

VT lacks talent at wide receiver. The Hokies' leading receiver, Cam Phillips, is struggling with foot issues. Even when healthy, his numbers are inflated by non-conference competition and garbage-time yards vs higher-tiered competition, such as Miami. Against non-conference competition, he averages 15.5 yards per catch and 5 touchdowns. Against ACC opponents, he averages 11.6 yards per catch and 2 touchdowns.

Quarterback Josh Jackson is reeling as well from different injury-related issues. He is averaging well under 50% completion in his past 3 games.

The Cavs' defensive weakness is allowing the big running play. But VT's leading runner has not achieved a run of more than 23 yards this season. VT is a run-first team but no Hokies running back averages more than 4.4 yards per rush after 50+ carries.

The freshman Jackson has yet to show his leadership in ACC road games or on primetime. His Hokies were never close to beating Miami or Clemson. VT is 0-3 ATS in conference road games. Virginia, led by senior Benkert, continues to show composure, having won as double-digit underdogs at Boise State and played Miami close to the end (despite the final score).

 

The Verdict

Virginia's offense is buoyed by Benkert's ability to buy time and create big plays with his playmakers in the vertical passing game. VT's offense is struggling, averaging less than 20 points per game since thrashing UNC 59-7. Against UVA's tough secondary and without the playmakers and proven composure in high-intensity games, the Hokies are false favorites on our NCAAF Picks.

Free NCAAF Pick: Virginia +7.5Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

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