2005 Game Projection: Virginia Tech and NC State

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In researching the Virginia Tech at N.C. State game, I came across a fascinating fact � despite a 5-6 record, N.C.
State out-gained every single opponent last year. Obviously, turnovers and penalties were the Wolfpack�s nemeses last
year, so the improved discipline that has been an off-season emphasis for State may lead to a dramatic improvement this
season. Actually, I would not be the least bit surprised if Tech sees N.C. State again this season. While the nation
focuses on the Labor Day ACC match-up between Miami and Florida State, the two best teams in the ACC may be meeting in
Raleigh on Sunday night.

I fully expect this game to be one of the most intense, hard-hitting battles of the entire college football season.
The teams are so well-matched that inevitably this game will be decided by a few big plays, probably on special teams or
caused by turnovers. I would seriously doubt that either team will be able to move the ball consistently given the
quality of the defenses, so look for mistakes to be especially critical in this game. Ultimately, the team that plays
with the most discipline and poise should win.

In looking at this game, I thought it might be interesting to statistically simulate the game results (no, I did not
use EA Sports� College Football 2005 game). I created a statistical model that could project the box score of the
results based on last year�s results (note that the analysis is not statistically significant due to the small sample
size). I had previously created a model to predict the outcome of games and expanded that model to project the results
for specific statistics, such as rushing yards, passing yards, etc.

Anyway, enough of the boring statistical talk, here is my projected box score for the game:

2005 Projection

Virginia Tech

N.C. State

First Downs

14

14

Rushing Attempts � Yards

42-122

35-107

Passing Completions � Attempts

9-20

14-26

Passing Yards

119

153

Turnovers

1

4

Sacks By

3

4

To provide some perspective on this defensive struggle, here are the offensive averages for D-1 games last year for
the two teams:

2004 Offensive Average

Virginia Tech

N.C. State

First Downs

19.2

18.8

Rushing Attempts � Yards

41.5-167.3

39.8-144.3

Passing Completions � Attempts

13.8-24.8

16.7-31.1

Passing Yards

188.5

199.3

Turnovers

1.5

3.0

Sacks Allowed

3.0

2.9

And here are the defensive averages for D-1 games for each of the teams based on the opponents offensive results:

2004 Defensive Average

Virginia Tech

N.C. State

First Downs

13.7

12.4

Rushing Attempts � Yards

35.4-119.8

39.3-102.2

Passing Completions � Attempts

13.4-24.5

10.8-24.5

Passing Yards

153.9

124.6

Turnovers

2.2

1.2

Sacks By

2.4

3.1

Also, just as a reminder of last year (not that any Hokie fan really needs to remember that game), here are results
from N.C. State�s 17-16 win:


2004 Game Results

Virginia Tech

N.C. State

First Downs

13

12

Rushing Attempts � Yards

43-36

39-145

Passing Completions � Attempts

11-26

6-17

Passing Yards

156

78

Turnovers

1

2

Sacks By

3

4

Okay, enough of statistical mania! What is actually going to happen in the game? Just for fun, here is a scenario of
how I see the game going:

Virginia Tech 23, North Carolina State 13

After exchanging a couple of punts, N.C. State gets the first break of the game on a shanked punt by Nic Schmitt that
gives the Pack the ball on Tech�s 47-yard line. State picks up a first down on a swing pass to Darrell Blackman, but
the Pack�s drive stalls and they must settle for a 44-yard field goal from John Deraney to take a 3-0 lead.




Tech quickly regains field position after a big kickoff return by Mike Imoh to midfield, but a sack by Manny Lawson
on third down stops the Tech drive. A nice punt by Schmitt pins State inside their 10. Unable to move the ball, Deraney
punts from near his goal line and Tech makes their first big special teams play of the year when Eddie Royal returns the
punt 53 yards for the Hokies� first score of the season. Brandon Pace converts the extra point to give Tech a 7-3
lead.

N.C. State rallies, however, driving 72 yards and scoring on an 18-yard pass from Jay Davis to tight end T.J.
Williams. State converts a couple of big third downs on passes to Tramain Hall, and Jay Davis looks much sharper after
getting off to a slow start. Deraney converts the extra point and N.C. State takes a 10-7 lead as the first quarter
ends.

In the second quarter, the defensive pressure makes moving the ball very difficult, but Tech manages to sustain a
drive near the end of the half, after recovering a Darrell Blackman fumble, culminating in a 26-yard field goal by
Brandon Pace. Cedric Humes has a couple of nice runs and a Marcus Vick scramble helps set up the field goal. In a
conservatively-played, statistically-even battle, the game goes into the half tied 10-10.

The defensive struggle continues into the third quarter when Tech gets a big break on an interception by Roland Minor
at State�s 43-yard line. An 18-yard pass to Eddie Royal followed by a Mike Imoh run on a misdirection play to the 10
puts Tech in excellent position, but a couple of big plays by Mario Williams, including batting down a third-down pass,
forces Tech to settle for a 30-yard field by Brandon Pace to take a 13-10 lead.

After exchanging punts, State gets their first big break of the game on an interception by Marcus Hudson on a tipped
pass. Starting the drive on Tech�s 36-yard line, the Pack pick up a first down on a pass to Sterling Hicks, but the
Hokie defense stiffens and State must settle for a 34-yard field goal by Deraney. The game goes into the fourth quarter
tied 13-13.

After a couple more drives go nowhere, Tech begins to move the ball with Marcus Vick hitting some short passes and
scrambling 22 yards to the State 37-yard line. On the next play, Vick hits David Clowney on a beautiful post pattern,
and Tech takes a 20-13 lead after Pace converts the extra point with 9 minutes left in the game.

N.C. State continues to struggle on offense, with Tech just missing a couple of interceptions on passes broken up by
Jimmy Williams and Justin Hamilton. The Hokies miss on a couple of deep passes to Josh Hyman and Eddie Royal, leaving
Tech fans puzzled why the Hokies are not just trying to run out the clock (Stinespring, in a post-game interview, will
state that “we are playing to win the game, not to ‘not lose’ the game”).

With about four minutes left in the game, State has the ball on their own 20 and desperately needs to sustain a
drive. Davis hits T.J. Williams over the middle for 13 yards followed by another completion to Tramain Hall to the 43.
On the next play, Darryl Tapp powers through the block by James Newby, recording his second sack of the game and forcing
a fumble that is recovered by Jonathan Lewis, who has had a dominant game in the middle.

Tech plays conservatively, running Humes up the middle three straight times to the 26-yard line. Brandon Pace comes
in and nails the 43-yard field goal from the left hash to seal the victory for the Hokies, 23-13. Tech wins a
hard-fought, physical battle between two of the best defensive teams in the country.

Virginia Tech    7   3   3  10 -- 23
N.C. State      10   0   3   0 -- 13


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