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Sons of Saturday Game Picks: Hokies Look to Beat UNC and Move to 3-0

By Mike McDaniel | October 10
Sons of Saturday Game Picks: Hokies Look to Beat UNC and Move to 3-0

It's the game we have all had circled on our calendar since the new schedule was announced. The #19 Virginia Tech Hokies, following an ACC-record SIX OVERTIME game a year ago against North Carolina, head to Chapel Hill to take on the #8 Tar Heels.

Both teams have started the season 2-0, and there's plenty of talent on both sides of the ball that will be on display this afternoon. There is rain in the forecast, so ball security will be at a premium in the game this afternoon.

All of our picks hit a week ago, as we all rolled with the Hokies. Let's see if we can keep it going this week.

Pat Finn

Virginia Tech 31 UNC 24

This is the same Carolina team from last year, minus a few impact players on defense. When healthy, this is a completely improved VT team from last year. I am still hung up on this tweet.

This gives me more confidence with uncertainty in the DB room. That said, Phil Longo's offense has had success with long, sustainable drives with Howell's ability to extend plays, pass plays coming underneath, and Michael Carter's rushing attack. As Billy said on the preview pod, our defense needs to maintain gap integrity and relentless pursuit of the ballcarrier. No matter who lines up as starting QB, VT will definitely need to establish the run early and not turn it over!

Billy Ray Mitchell

Virginia Tech 20 UNC 17

Clash of the Titans at noon on national televisions. Look for VT and UNC to both open up their playbooks in a rainy environment. Our stable of running backs and the golden foot of Brian Johnson will pay dividends. Welcome back JHam! #BDTBATH

Mike McDaniel

Virginia Tech 23 UNC 17

North Carolina is a good team...we think. Virginia Tech is a good team...we think. It's going to be tough weather for passing conditions with rain in the forecast, so this game should boil down to who runs the ball the best and wins the turnover battle. The Hokies have looked better through two games than North Carolina has, so I'm rolling with the Hokies in a close, low-scoring affair.

Adam Rothe

UNC 31 Virginia Tech 20

I know this may sound obvious, but my pick comes down to who is available to play for the Hokies. First off, Braxton Burmeister ain’t it. If Tech wants to keep up with Sam Howell, we need to have a QB playing (hello Hendon Hooker) who is better in the passing game. The 9 for 25 stat line from the Duke game isn’t going to keep pace with Howell if he gets cooking.

Second, if the Hokies’ entire starting secondary is out again, there’s a chance the Tar Heels could blow the doors off with their talented receivers. I’m keeping it at an 11-point UNC win right now, assuming Tech will run the ball more to burn the clock. If Hendon Hooker is the starting QB and our secondary is healthy, I think Tech could win the game, but right now that’s not how everything is trending.

Ryan Hartman

Virginia Tech 31 UNC 20

VT is just the better team this week I think. The hype around UNC is based on very little and the Hokies have shown more this year than the heels. I think Tech uses Hooker to throw it up and down the field and the Tech defense proves they are capable enough. I think this is a big game for our wideouts especially if Hooker is our QB.

Justin Cates

Virginia Tech 24 UNC 20

I've gone back and forth on this pick, mostly due to shifts in personnel. The Hokies are an open question on that front but they've handled being shorthanded as well if not better than any group in the nation to this point. Carolina will be without a number of key defenders and if it comes down to offenses — particularly in sloppy conditions — Tech should squeak one out based on their stout and versatile defense.

Robert Irby

Virginia Tech 34 UNC 24

At full strength, the Hokies are the better team. They likely won't be at full strength, but even so, I think the matchups favor the Hokies. Yes, I'm fearful of what Sam Howell could do to a depleted secondary, but his line will struggle to stop Justus Reed and Co. from putting pressure on him. Additionally, I think Herbert has another huge game against a mediocre run defense and UNC's secondary, which is short handed in its own right, will allow some big passes from whatever QB trots out there.

Sam Jessee

UNC 34 Virginia Tech 24

Virginia Tech won't be near full strength in the defensive backfield, and I think that catches up to them this week. UNC has looked good defensively, but hasn't really faced much of a run game yet. This game looks to be more about can the Tech defense get off the field to let the offense go to work than can Tech score against the Heels. I just don't know if they'll be able to get Sam Howell off the field. The one chance the Hokies have? Havoc plays in the backfield. That could change the game.

Chris Himes

Virginia Tech 37 UNC 31

Each team is dealing with unknown availability in the secondary, so in reality, the impact is a net wash in picking this game. However, what can be considered is that over the last four years, regardless of who was in the backfield, Justin Fuente has gone 4-0 against UNC with an offense averaging 53.25 rushes per game for 194.5 yards.

So going into this game, Tech now has one of the best rushing attacks in the nation, made possible behind a road grading OL, a talented RB averaging 12.0 yards per carry, and a stable of playmakers at the WR and TE position to help keep the UNC defense honest.

Brett Smith

Virginia Tech 31 UNC 23

Assuming the Hokies will have some DBs back and can exploit UNC's secondary, I think that's a recipe for success early. As the game goes on, keeping constant pressure on quarterback Sam Howell is key as well. Plus, if it rains like most expect, Herbert is going to have another 150+ day. Stamp it.

Pat Rouleau

UNC 31 Virginia Tech 27

North Carolina will want revenge for the 6OT loss in Lane Stadium last year and prove to be the team that media outlets and fans were talking about in the preseason as being one of the top-3 teams in the conference. This will be a back-and-forth contest, with Sam Howell scoring a late touchdown to give the Tar Heels a W.

Ed Williams

UNC 34 Virginia Tech 31

I think at full strength Virginia Tech is the better football team. Playing without the top DBs hasn't been as issue so far for the Hokies, but against a quality QB like Sam Howell it could prove to be extremely costly. I hope I'm wrong, but until we see who lines up for Tech, I'll take the Tar Heels in a close one.

Ryan Wilkes

Virginia Tech 20 UNC 17

This one is truly a toss-up. With the forecast looking how it is, we may have a slugfest on our hands. I feel like Tech has the upper hand in the rushing game, but on the defensive side of the ball, who knows who will be available for the Hokies? This game will come down to who can run the ball more efficiently and who can get the stops necessary to win.

Colin Gilley

Virginia Tech 30 UNC 28

Hokies win.

Preston Huennekens

UNC 24 Virginia Tech 17

Tar Heels win.

Mike McDaniel

Mike McDaniel

As a first generation Hokie, I can't say that Virginia Tech has always been in my blood, but I can say unequivocally that I bleed maroon and orange now. I graduated from the Pamplin College of Business in 2015 with a double major in accounting and finance, and have parlayed that into a five-year career in government compliance consulting in the Washington D.C. metro area where I grew up. At Tech, I enjoyed going to as many sporting events as I could, playing four years for the Club Golf team, and realizing my passion for writing and creating content.

I have previously written for Gobbler Country on the SB Nation network, Fighting Gobbler for Fansided,, The Tech Lunch Pail, and most recently for Sports Illustrated's All Hokies, where I was the lead publisher.

In addition to writing, I am also co-host of Basketball Conference: The ACC Football Podcast and the Hokie Hangover Podcast covering Virginia Tech athletics.

I'm passionate about Virginia Tech, but also hope to bring an objective and journalistic background to enhance the already fantastic athletic coverage here at Sons of Saturday.

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