They call it the Commonwealth Cup when Virginia and Virginia Tech meet, and this year's college football odds meeting will also determine bowl eligibility for one of the teams.
Things started pretty well this year for Frank Beamer and the Virginia Tech Hokies. A stunning 35-21 upset at Ohio State in Week 2 catapulted the Hokies from outside the polls to No. 17 in the AP rankings, giving Va Tech fans hope for a much better than expected showing on the 2014 college football betting trail.
As fast as Virginia Tech's rise in the rankings came, the Hokies just as quickly fell out of sight with losses in their following two games. Now, Beamer and his squad are left with needing a victory in the regular season finale just to become bowl eligible.
Mike London and the Virginia Cavaliers find themselves in the same situation as they arrive in Blacksburg for the 96th meeting in the rivalry with Virginia Tech. Both squads are sitting 5-6 in the overall standings, meaning just one can reach the magical 6-win plateau in Friday's fracas at Lane Stadium.
ESPN will have the broadcast starting at 8 PM (ET), and it's the Cavs who are showing up as ever-so-slight 1 point favorites on SBR's live College Football odds. Early totals are a low 40-41 points.
Bragging rights in the series belong to Virginia Tech with a 53-37-5 record since the schools began playing in 1895. A big chunk of the Hokies' advantage has been built in the last couple of decades as Va Tech owns a 10-game win streak vs. the Cavaliers, and 17-4 command in the last 21 affairs. Virginia covered the past two meetings, however, after Hokies backers picked up the cash in eight of the prior nine clashes. Each of the last four battles has failed to reach the totals, the smallest of which was 41 last November.
Cavs Hope To Build Off Momentum From Miami Upset
It's unclear if either team will really draw much interest from a bowl with a 6-6 record, though Virginia might be a bit more attractive since the Cavaliers would finish 4-4 in ACC play while the Hokies are currently 2-5 in the conference.
Virginia stopped a 4-game ACC skid with a nice 30-13 upset over the Miami Hurricanes this past Saturday, turning the trick as a 4 point underdog and giving 'under' bettors a 6-game winning ticket run. The Cavaliers fell behind 7-0 before reeling off 30 unanswered points and ruling the clock with nearly 12 extra minutes of possession.
London and his staff are dealing with some significant injuries for the matchup in Blacksburg, starting with leading rusher Kevin Parks who is questionable with a mild concussion suffered vs. the Hurricanes. Whoever does tote the pigskin for the Cavs might not have two key blockers opening holes as guard Ryan Doull (concussion) and tackle Sadiq Olanrewaju (lower body) are also listed as questionable.
Hokies Thin In Offensive Backfield
Beamer and his Virginia Tech staff are dealing with injuries as well, most notably at running back. The Hokies lost top rusher Marshawn Williams to a season-ending knee injury in the win at Duke a couple of weeks ago, a week after sophomore backup Jerome Wright suffered the same fate. Reserve Trey Edmunds (collarbone) is questionable for the Va Tech trip, leaving much of the load to JC Coleman who has fallen just short of the 100-yard mark the last two weeks.
The entire Hokies offense fell short last week at Wake Forest, a game that stood nil-nil at the end of regulation before the Demon Deacons pulled out a 6-3 triumph in the second OT. Virginia Tech turned it over three times for their fourth loss straight up and against the spread in the last five games, and have given the ball away 10 times in that stretch.
At the very least, it's going to be cold Friday at Lane Stadium where the thermometer is expected to be around freezing at kickoff and drop into the 20s from there. The 10%-20% chance of precipitation in Blacksburg's forecast could turn out to be snowflakes, so college football bettors will want to monitor the weather before making their wagers.
Virginia Tech's domination in the series is tough to ignore, but so are the totals for both squads in 2014 along with the recent meetings. The teams have combined for a 5-15 O/U record this campaign, so I'm double-dipping with my free College Football pick and playing both the Hokies and the low side of the total.
Free College Football Pick: Virginia Tech +1 at BookMaker
Willie Bee's Season: 57-37-1 (+16.30)