Sons of Game Picks: Week 12 - Virginia Tech vs. UVA
It is that time of year again.
Throw out the rest of the season, throw out the terrible coaching, throw out the awful offensive output, throw out the head scratching loses, throw out Fuente being fired, just throw it all out. This rivalry game is its own animal.
UVA has lived for this game since Bronco Mendenhall took over. They have a countdown clock to their matchup with Tech in their training facility. Their fans wake up each morning and sit down to eat egg whites with kale and sparkling Perrier and dream about UVA winning this game.
The recent history of this rivalry got so one-sided that it was getting hard to call it a "rivalry" in the first place. That entails that the other side, UVA, actually wins every so often. From 2004 to 2018 Virginia Tech won every single Commonwealth Cup. That's 15 years in a row. Since 1999, the Hokies are 20-2 against UVA. I mean sheesh.
However, UVA finally got the monkey of their back in 2019 when UVA QB, Bryce Perkins, took over the game and the Wahoos won 39-30. The Hokies were able to get the cup back in 2020 and cleanse it of being filled with Seagram's Peach Bellini wine cooler after being away from Blacksburg for a whole year.
Unfortunately for Hokie fans, it appears that the pendulum is swinging back again to UVA's favor for the 2021 edition of the Commonwealth Cup. The Cavaliers have one of the most electrifying quarterbacks in college football with Brennan Armstrong and while their defense is dreadful, the UVA offense is one of the highest scoring in the country. Armstrong can single-handedly churn out points as he throws his receivers open and scrambles around the yard.
Meanwhile, the Hokies are trending in the opposite direction. The obvious uncertainty about who the next coach and coaching staff will be is on the minds of the players as they have to make decisions about their playing future in the coming weeks. Then there is the Hokie offense which after 11 weeks still has not found any footing as now it appears there will be a QB rotation between Braxton Burmeister and Connor Blumrick. The Hokie defense has been average at best since their hot start earlier in the season. Last week against Miami the Hokies were lit up by Miami QB Tyler Van Dyke and I expect Armstrong to pick up where he left off.
Everything is trending against the Hokies right now, but weird things always happen in rivalry games.
Here is how we see the game going..
I (Adam Rothe) was the only person to predict the Hokies to go 5-7 this year: see season predictions article here. I was called crazy for this as most people (somehow) saw the Hokies winning 8+ games. So if the Hokies do end up losing. All I can say is I told you so. Bad coaching ruins good talent any day of the week. Look no further than Mike London at UVA from years ago..
Adam Rothe - UVA - 38-20
Tech probably had a decent shot if Brennan Armstrong was going to be out, but he made his glorious return last weekend against Pitt. How did he perform? Oh just a casual 487 yard passing day to go along with 3 TDs. UVA lost the shootout with Kenny Pickett, but they still put up 38 points. The Hokie defense has been average at best recently after their incredible start five years ago back in Week 1 against UNC. They can't stop the run, they can't stop a mobile quarterback, and they can't really slow down any passing attack. That's not a great formula for facing a UVA team that can light up the scoreboard.
On Tech's offensive side my guess is that the game plan will be another heavy dose of Connor Blumrick in the run game in an attempt to milk the clock and keep the ball out of Armstrong's hands. Weird things always happen in this rivalry game and UVA's defense isn't great, but I think UVA's offense is just too potent this year. They take the Commonwealth Cup back and drive the nail into the coffin of Hokie Nation after a dreadful year.
Justin Cates - UVA - 42-24
Brennan Armstrong will be able to name his yardage and points totals unless something drastic changes for the Hokies on defense. I have this sinking feeling that Tech will just run the QB again in an attempt to control clock and limit UVA’s possessions, which doesn’t feel like it will surprise anyone after last week. Hopefully I’m wrong but a point spread hovering around a touchdown in the ‘Hoos favor seems overly generous even in a season of giving.
Grant Mitchell - UVA - 41-27
The performances that Brennan Armstrong has turned in this season have been exceptional, and he is capable of lighting up nearly any defense. At the same time, despite the Cavaliers' defense being shockingly poor, Tech does not have much of an offense to respond with, as seen with the reliance on rain at Miami to help them out. It feels like Connor Blumrick is going to start again, lowering the chance of a high-scoring attack even further, so I expect UVA to control the game and Tech to score a late touchdown that makes it look closer than it was.
Pat Finn - UVA - 38-28
Robert Irby - Virginia Tech - 35-31
UVA is the most overhyped team in the ACC - and it isn't close! Armstrong is putting up video game numbers with an electric group of receivers, but UVA is a bad football team in every other phase of the game. They don't run the ball well (12th in ACC in rushing), they don't protect the quarterback (121st nationally in sacks allowed), they don't defend well (13th in ACC in total defense and 12th in scoring defense, giving up 32 points and 466 yards a game), and their special teams unit has been subpar this season (ranked 117th nationally in Special Teams FEI by Football Outsiders). They have lost three games in a row, and two of their wins came because opponents missed potential game-winning field goals. They are two made kicks away from being 4-7! I see the Hokies trying to control possession as they did in the second half of the Miami game, picking apart UVA's pathetic defense with a strong rushing attack. And most of all - never forget who is the little brother.
Billy Ray Mitchell - UVA - 31-17
Prove me wrong. I beg of you.