The Hokies look to make it back-to-back wins as they travel to a place they’ve never won: Heinz Field in Pittsburgh
#25 Virginia Tech Vs. Pittsburgh, 7:00 PM ET Thursday, ESPN
Virginia Tech leads all-time series 8-7 (Pittsburgh won last meeting 17-13 in 2015).
Virginia Tech: Beat Miami 37-16 in Blacksburg
Pittsburgh: Bye Week
After their biggest win of the season a week ago in Blacksburg, the Virginia Tech Hokies (5-2, 3-1 ACC) will try to avenge their demons on Halloween weekend as they travel on the road to Pittsburgh (5-2, 2-1 ACC) at Heinz Field, a place where they have never defeated the Panthers (0-4 all-time).
In fact, the Hokies have not beaten Pittsburgh in a true road game since the teams were a part of the old Big East in 1999.
This year’s installment should shape up to be another hard fought game between two teams that hang their hat on stopping the run. Pittsburgh enters play with the fifth-ranked rushing defense in all of college football, as they only allow 96.6 yards per game on the ground. Bud Foster’s unit at Virginia Tech is no slouch either, as the Hokies rank 11th in all of college football in stopping the run, as they have only allowed 103.6 yards per game on the ground.
The team that establishes the run earliest in this game should gain the upper-hand, as it will be key to opening up the passing game. Pittsburgh has a much better established running game than the Hokies, with Pitt averaging 239.1 yards per game on the ground (20th nationally) thanks to bell cow James Conner, while Virginia Tech averages 197.6 yards per game (42nd nationally). However, if the Hokies get the ball rolling in the running game, they will be better able to open up their passing attack against a porous Pittsburgh defense, which ranks 106th in college football in passing efficiency defense.
In a match-up that could be so closely contested on the ground, the difference in this game could be made through the air. For the Hokies, Jerod Evans has been masterful throwing the football, as he has completed 63% of his passes for 1,611 yards and 19 touchdowns to only two interceptions this season. Nate Peterman has been no slouch in his own right for Pittsburgh, accumulating 1,252 yards passing with 11 touchdowns to only two interceptions.
If there is one final overarching point in this game, it is that neither team turns the football over all that much. As such, the team with the most balance on offense should win this football game.
All good things must come to an end….
No, I’m not talking about the Virginia Tech’s Coastal chances; I’m talking about Pittsburgh’s undefeated record against the Hokies at Heinz Field.
All the talk I’ve heard this week is about how difficult it is for the Hokies to win on the road at Pittsburgh. However, I have still yet to hear a plausible argument of how this Panthers team, with one of the worst passing defenses in all of college football is going to beat this Hokies team, with as strong a defense as they have had in the last five years.
By no means do I think that this will be an easy game, as Pittsburgh has one of the best rushing attacks in the ACC. I do believe, however, that the Hokies will find a way to stop the run and create some turnovers along the way to pull this thing out down the stretch. They do indeed have the better defense top-to-bottom than the Panthers do, and I believe that will ultimately be the difference in this game.
There will be no “Heinz Field House of Horrors” this year.
Virginia Tech 23 Pittsburgh 16