NCAAF Betting Preview & Free Pick: Virginia vs Virginia Tech

There will be a spot in the ACC Championship Game on the line, not to mention in-state bragging rights when the Virginia Cavaliers welcome the rival Virginia Tech Hokies, now ranked no. 24, to town to close out the regular season. Kickoff is set for noon EST on Friday, November 29 at Scott Stadium in Charlottesville, Virginia. The game will be broadcast nationally on ABC.

Oddsmakers list the Hokies as 2.5-point road favorites over the Cavs with an over/under of 48 points. Click here to get a full list of this week’s college football betting odds.

Virginia vs Virginia Tech Vegas Game Preview & Betting Odds

It’s hard to believe that Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente had serious job security issues at the end of September. Following a 45-10 home loss to Duke, the Hokies were 2-2 and facing the possibility of another mediocre season after just barely qualifying for a bowl last year. However, Virginia Tech has completely turned things around, winning six of their last seven games, losing only to Notre Dame during that span. Most importantly, they’ve won their last five ACC games, including back-to-back shutouts of Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh. The Hokies are now 8-3 overall and 5-2 in conference play. Not only is a 10-win season still on the table, but with a win on Friday, Virginia Tech will win the ACC Coastal Division and play in the ACC Championship Game.

Of course, their in-state foes are in the same position. The Cavaliers endured a rough patch in the middle of the season, losing three of four games at one point. However, Virginia has been able to string together three straight wins late in the year, putting them at 8-3 overall and 5-2 in ACC play. That means, if they’re able to win on Friday, they’ll win the ACC Coastal Division and face Clemson in the conference title game. The Cavaliers haven’t won a conference title since winning a share of the ACC crown in 1995. They’ve also never played in the ACC Championship Game, so winning Friday would be a big deal for Bronco Mendenhall and the program.

However, as much as Virginia wants to reach the ACC title game, they also want to put an end to their 15-game losing streak against Virginia Tech. The Hokies have utterly dominated this rivalry, especially lately. Virginia’s only win since 1998 came all the way back in 2003. The Cavaliers thought they were finally going to snap Tech’s streak last season after erasing a 14-0 halftime deficit to force overtime. But UVA quarterback Bryce Perkins fumbled in overtime and the Hokies survived 34-31, keeping Virginia Tech’s streak alive.

Free College Football Against the Spread Pick: Virginia Tech -2.5

Perkins and the Cavaliers are no doubt still kicking themselves after letting last year’s rivalry game with the Hokies slip away. Unfortunately, I don’t Virginia is going to be able to exorcise those demons this time around. The Hokies have been red hot over the last two months and I don’t see the Cavs slowing them up. Even on the road, I like the Hokies to win and cover without a problem.

I don’t know what happened to Virginia Tech when they gave up 45 points to a 4-7 Duke team in late September, but they’ve been a different team since then. Keep in mind that the Hokies went on the road and held Notre Dame to just 21 points while forcing three turnovers against the Irish. They’ve followed that up by slowing down a potent Wake Forest offense and then shutting out Georgia Tech and Pitt. Even if we concede that Georgia Tech and Pitt are two of the more uninspired offenses in the ACC, holding a shutout in back-to-back weeks is no small feat.

Over the last month, the Hokies have been outstanding at stopping the run. That’s been the biggest key to their defensive turnaround and figures to be a big problem for the Cavaliers. The Virginia rushing attack isn’t anything special. Also, the Cavs don’t have the kind of passing attack that can carry them if they get nothing from the ground game. Perkins can be a handful because of his athleticism, but he’s averaging less than seven yards per pass on the season. The Cavaliers don’t have a downfield passing game that will scare the Hokies. They also haven’t played a defense anywhere near the level of the VTU defense since scoring just nine points in a loss to Miami.

Virginia’s only chance is to force a low-scoring game. However, while the UVA defense has been good this year, they’ve also given up at least 28 points in their last four games. The Cavs have played a somewhat unimpressive schedule during that time, so I don’t have high hopes for them to shut down the Virginia Tech offense. Sophomore Hendon Hooker becoming the quarterback has turned around the season for the Hokies offensively. During his time as the starter, he’s averaging over 10 yards per pass and is yet to throw an interception, making him both explosive and efficient as a passer.

All things considered, I think the Hokies have a distinct advantage on both sides of the ball in this game. The Virginia Tech defense has been at another level over the past month while the offense is capable of creating explosive plays. The Cavs are good enough to keep it a competitive game, but I feel confident the Hokies can win by more than a field and cover the spread.

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