Virginia Tech North Carolina

The North Carolina Tar Heels have had a tough start to the season.  They opened on the road against No. 6 ranked South Carolina, losing in a 17-point game.  They returned home to pick up a 20-point win over Middle Tennessee, but have no lost their last two consecutive games for a 1-3 record overall.  They face a Virginia Tech team that has won four straight games, two of which came against teams that beat the Tar Heels.

Kick-off takes place on Saturday at 12:30 PM ET.  Television coverage is being provided by ESPN3.  Oddsmakers have the Hokies improving to 5-1 on the season as Virginia Tech is listed as a seven-point favorite.

Why Virginia Tech Covers

The Hokies have played two home games this season, averaging 37 points per game.  They have a clear edge when it comes to running the ball, averaging 140 yards per game on 3.9 yards per carry.  They face a Tar Heels defense that has been soft against the run, giving up 276 rushing yards per game on an average of 5.1 yards per carry.  The passing game could use some work, but they are not far behind the Tar Heels who have completed just 55.6% of their pass attempts on the road for a total of 206 passing yards per game.  The Hokies average 203 passing yards per game and have also averaged two less passing attempts per game.

The North Carolina Tar Heels are 1-7 ATS in their last eight road games.

The Virginia Tech defense has another clear edge in this game.  They have held opponents to just 15.8 points per game this season.  The front seven have allowed a mere 2.7 rushing yards per carry, while the secondary is shutting down opposing quarterbacks, limiting them to a mere 44% completion rate.  The Hokies have also done a great job forcing turnovers this season.  After opening the season against No. 1 ranked Alabama, a game where they forced a single turnover, Virginia Tech has since averaged three forced turnovers per game over their last four consecutive games.  That is an impressive number, and has led to a +6 figure in the turnover margin.

Why North Carolina Covers

The biggest advantage the Tar Heels will have in this game is their outstanding receiving core.  North Carolina has completed over 60% of its pass attempts for 297 yards per game.  They played a tough South Carolina team on the road, as well as an outstanding defense from Georgia Tech.  Both of those teams are better defensively than today’s opponent which is why I think the Tar Heels will fall somewhere between their 206 passing yards on the road and their overall figure of 297 passing yard.  The ground attack has been sluggish at times, but North Carolina has still managed to score an average of 25.2 points per game.

The Virginia Tech Hokies are 3-7 ATS in their last 10 conference games.

It is hard to tell just how good this Tar Heels defense will be based on their strength of schedule at this point in the season.  The Hokies may have a 3-1 record, but they are a team that is not as good as their record.  Virginia Tech has won just one game against the spread, an upset on the road last week against Georgia Tech.  The Hokies get way too much respect from the oddsmakers, and that has led to a 3-13 ATS record in their last 16 games after allowing less than 20 points in their previous game.  They are also 1-8 ATS in their last nine home games against a team with a losing record on the road.

My Prediction

I think the Tar Heels are the play in this game.  Neither offense runs the ball very well, and the Tar Heels are clearly the better passing team.  The offensive numbers against common opponents are far superior to the Hokies, and they should have no problem keeping this game within a touchdown.

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