The Virginia Tech Hokies (2-1) will be playing their final nonconference matchup when they host the East Carolina Pirates (1-2) this Saturday. Coming off two back-to-back road losses, the Pirates and NCAA Football betting fans are hoping that playing at the familiar Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium will inspire the kind of performance that saw ECU pull a 28-21 upset win over the Hokies last year. Is it possible for the Pirates to shock the college football odds with another upset this Saturday, or will the Hokies get their revenge? Read on to find out.
In their two losses against Florida and Navy in the past two weeks, the biggest concern for the Pirates has been their limited efficiency in the end zone. Against the Midshipmen in Week 2, for example, WR Bryce Williams registered five receptions for 47 yards and two TDs, while Isaiah Jones also chipped in handily, contributing 130 yards on 10 receptions. In spite of such commendable efforts, ECU was unable to capitalize on its scoring opportunities, allowing Navy to run away as 45-21 winners.
To beat the Hokies, the Pirates will probably need to borrow a couple of tricks from their win over Virginia Tech in 2014. WR Cam Worthy, who grabbed six passes for a career-high 224 yards last year, and his QB Shane Carden are no longer available in ECU. Nonetheless, the Pirates still have a good number of tall and well-built weapons in the offense, who could easily stretch the field, as was successfully done by Worthy. This will be particularly vital because the Hokies secondary has big and long guys that are tough to beat through small-bodied players.
Star corners Brandon Facyson and Kendall Fuller, a nearly unanimous All-ACC preseason pick, are the big guys running things in the Virginia Tech defense, and they’ve been very efficient so far, as Virginia Tech’s secondary ranks 19th nationally in passing yards allowed (150.7).
As a saving grace for ECU, Virginia’s offense—good as it is—can be managed through hard work. QB Brenden Motley is impressively coming off a 15-24 passing performance for 220 yards and 2 TDs, leading Virginia Tech to 51-24 win over Purdue in Week 3, but he wasn’t as commanding as you’d have expected against the Boilermakers’ weak defense. If East Carolina’s defense can block the passing lanes more stoutly and limit Virginia Tech’s stellar running game (averaging 221.7 YPG) from moving the chains, maybe ECU could have a chance of sneaking away with another surprise win.
Needless to say, ECU’s QB Blake Kemp (893 passing yards and 6 TDs this season) and star back Chris Hairston (207 rushing yards and 4 TDs on 45 carries) will also need to do their part, exploiting any scoring opportunities they get because chances are likely to come at premium against the solid Virginia defense.
• East Carolina is 1-5 ATS in its last 6 games
• Virginia Tech is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games overall
• East Carolina is 15-8 SU in its last 23 games
• East Carolina is 10-1 SU in its last 11 games at home
• East Carolina is 1-4 ATS in its last 5 games at home
• East Carolina is 1-4 SU in its last 5 games when playing Virginia Tech
• East Carolina is 1-0 SU when taking a lead into halftime
• Virginia Tech is 2-1 SU when leading at the half this season
• The total has gone OVER in 4 of East Carolina’s last 6 games.
• The total has gone UNDER in 4 of East Carolina’s last 5 games when playing Virginia Tech
Considering Virginia Tech opens ACC play next week against Pittsburgh, a win will be very crucial for them in this game, especially in regards to building momentum and boosting their confidence. But then again, there is a likelihood that the Hokies will want to go into ACC play with healthy players, so they’ll probably adopt a cautious approach, which could work in favor of ECU.
Given that all the last three meetings between Virginia Tech and ECU (including last year’s game) have been close with none of them ending in a double-digit margin, our prediction is therefore that the Hokies will do enough to claim the win this Saturday, but the Pirates will keep the win-margin below 10 points to cover the spread. Total-wise, a tame scoring game looks likely, so total bettors should be on the lookout for an UNDER.
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