Coming off of a much needed bye week, the Virginia Tech football will battle the tattered North Carolina Tar Heels in Lane Stadium.
When and Where: Blacksburg, VA, Lane Stadium, 3:30 pm ET
How to Watch: ESPN 2
Line: VT -21 (Per SportsBookReview.com)
At the beginning of the Virginia Tech football season, this game against North Carolina looked like a great one. In fact, people chalked it up to be a game that could potentially be huge in determining the Coastal Division champion.
As we arrive at this week, this game is just as exciting as we thought it would be in my opinion, but not for the same reasons we thought seven weeks ago.
An Academic Scandal
I would be remiss if I didn’t at least mention the academic scandal that was finally put to rest in Chapel Hill last Friday. I’m not going to talk too much about it, though, because I may loose it.
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Basically, UNC ran sham classes within their African-American Studies department for 18 years. Yet, because the NCAA could not prove that athletes were steered toward these classes, they “could not conclude academic violations.”
Based on the NCAA bylaws, did they make the “correct” decision? Probably. Yet UNC fans and coaches alike should be saying, “We got away with one.”
That’s not what they’re saying. Rather, they are viewing this decision as a justification for their behavior.
UNC should be ashamed that they were willing to throw their entire University under the bus to save their athletic programs, and the NCAA should be embarrassed that their own laws prevent them from punishing cheating.
So, long story short, the NCAA failed to put down the hammer on UNC. Luckily, the Hokies have a chance to smash the Heels out of bowl eligibility and provide a small bit of justice.
On the field, the Tar Heels have been plagued with injuries this year. Andy Bitter and Aaron McFarling stated on their latest podcast episode that UNC was already hit hard by graduation and the NFL draft.
As they entered this season, North Carolina had only 13% of their scrimmage yards returning on offense. After injuries to some key players (such as Austin Proehl), they are down to only 3% of that yardage that will be on the field against the Hokies.
Any team that loses 97% of their offense from the previous year is going to struggle. The Heels cannot find consistency at QB, switching back and forth between LSU-transfer Brandon Harris and freshman Chaz Surrat.
UNC writer Roger Burton wrote a good article this week about how neither QB is really a particularly good option. That’d a big reason why the Heels are a mere 1-6 on the season.
So, a team struggling to move the ball should rely on its defense, right? Not in this case. Chris Coleman of Tech Sideline shows that UNC is 114th in the nation in total defense.
All that to say, the Tar Heels are just not very good this season. Larry Fedora probably wishes he had gotten out while he could.
Virginia Tech has some injury issues of their own. The statuses of WRs Cam Phillips and CJ Carroll, as well as RB Steven Peoples, are “day to day” according to Coach Justin Fuente. Still, these don’t hold a candle to UNC’s problems.
On paper, the Hokies should totally dominate this game. Tech is more talented on both sides of the ball, which is probably why they are 21 point favorites.
Still, if last weekend showed us anything, it was that even the best teams can come out and lay an egg. Clemson, Washington State, and Washington, and Auburn (all top 10 teams last week) all lost to opponents who were unranked at the time.
Considering the the Hokies have not really had their “lay an egg” game this year, it could be still to come. It happened twice last year: at Syracuse and against Georgia Tech at home.
I REALLY hope this week is not that week. At this point, I’d rather lose to UVA than UNC. Yes, I said it.
Call me optimistic, but I do not see it happening this week. The Hokie should have no trouble getting up for this game, because I believe they see UNC as big of a rival as anyone in the ACC.
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Virginia Tech has more talent on both sides of the ball, and unless you just come out completely unfocused, you should not lose in that circumstance. Heck, I even think the Hokies will cover (barely).
Score Prediction: VT 38, UNC 13