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.
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.
Sam Howell has yet to complete a pass 20+ yards downfield this season.— PFF College (@PFF_College) October 5, 2020
▪️ 2 turnover-worthy plays pic.twitter.com/MdwKDKwMlQ
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Virginia Tech 30 UNC 28
UNC 24 Virginia Tech 17
Tar Heels win.