2005 Game Projection: Virginia Tech vs. WVU

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Two years ago, Virginia Tech soundly trounced
Syracuse 51-7 at home to stay undefeated and rose to a #3 ranking in the polls.
The Hokies then ventured up to Morgantown for a Wednesday night game only to be
upset by an emotionally-charged West Virginia squad 28-7. Strangely enough,
Virginia Tech just defeated a good Georgia Tech team 51-7 at home and again rose
to a #3 ranking in the polls. This week the Hokies will make their last trip to
Morgantown for some time in hope of changing this oddly similar pattern to 2003.

The one difference this time is West Virginia and
Virginia Tech have identical 4-0 record, as opposed to 2003 when the
Mountaineers were 2-4 and the Hokies were 6-0. I seriously doubt that Virginia
Tech will be overlooking the Mountaineers this time.

Before getting to the West Virginia game, let�s
take a quick look back at the surprisingly easy victory for the Hokies over
Georgia Tech and see how the projections came out last week:

Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech

Virginia Tech

Georgia Tech

Projected

Actual

Projected

Actual

First Downs

17

15

14

6

Rushing Attempts � Yards

37-121

44-97

34-110

25-74

Passing Completions � Attempts

14-27

13-22

12-28

13-32

Passing Yards

188

223

149

143

Turnovers

2

0

3

3

Sacks By

2

2

3

3


Projected scoring:

Georgia Tech 7 0 0 0
— 7
Virginia Tech 3 7 7 3 — 20

Actual scoring:

Georgia Tech 0 0 7 0
— 7
Virginia Tech 14 10 24 3 — 51

The final score was surely a surprise to everyone, but the
actual projected statistics were at least reasonably close. The total yardage
projections were 309 for Virginia Tech and the actual was 319; Georgia Tech was
projected to gain 259 yards and ended up with 217. The difference in the game,
of course, was the blocked field goal that was returned by D.J. Parker for a
score and the two interception returns for touchdowns. Also, Georgia Tech was
unable to convert third downs and consequently didn�t sustain drives which led
to horrible field position. In other words, Beamerball was at its best last
Saturday.

Beamerball will definitely be put to the test in
Morgantown, as the fired-up Mountaineers look for the upset. As always, West
Virginia brings one of the most physical games that Tech faces each season, and
the battle in the trenches is extremely intense. West Virginia has a physical,
aggressive offensive line and relies on controlling the ball on the ground. Of
course, Virginia Tech stresses stopping the run, and no team has successfully
moved the ball rushing this year against the Hokies, so the ground battle will
be key when West Virginia has the ball.

Last year, the Mountaineers had numerous threats
receiving, but this year�s group is far less experienced, and when combined
with new quarterbacks, the WVU passing game is much less of a concern than in
the past. On defense, the Hokies must stop the run and keep the athletic
quarterbacks for West Virginia from scrambling and improvising on plays.

Defensively, West Virginia has been particularly stingy
against the run with the strength of this team being the defensive line led by
emerging-star Keilen Dykes. Tech will likely struggle running against the
Stack-3 defense and will need to spread the field horizontally through short
passes and bubble screens as well as stretch the field vertically with deep
passes on occasion. West Virginia�s blitzing defense will leave Marcus Vick
with little time to make decisions, so he must continue to show the poise under
pressure that he has exhibited this season for the Hokies to successfully move
the ball. West Virginia�s secondary could be vulnerable at times, so look for
Tech to test the Mountaineer cornerbacks in this game.

Here is my projected box score for the game:

2005 Projection

Virginia Tech

West Virginia

First Downs

20

13

Rushing Attempts � Yards

42-151

42-196

Passing Completions � Attempts

15-27

9-18

Passing Yards

187

104

Turnovers

1

2

Sacks By

2

2

To compare with last year�s game, let�s take a look at
the stats from Tech�s 19-13 victory:

2004 Statistics

Virginia Tech

West Virginia

First Downs

21

10

Rushing Attempts � Yards

47-192

36-134

Passing Completions � Attempts

16-34

10-21

Passing Yards

142

113

Turnovers

2

2

Sacks By

0

1

I expect the game to be fairly similar to last year with
Tech looking to control the ball and establish field position. The Hokies will
likely rely on the short pass more this year than last, but otherwise we should
expect the typical tough, physical game that these two teams like to play. As
always with Virginia Tech, expect special teams to play an important role and
the Mountaineers have shown some weakness on their coverage teams thus far. Here
is my projected scoring for the game:

Virginia Tech 3 10 3 3 — 19
West Virginia 0 7 0 0 — 7

VT � Pace 27 yd FG
WVU � White 6 yd run (McAfee kick)
VT � King 14 yd pass from Vick (Pace kick)
VT � Pace 43 yd FG
VT � Pace 39 yd FG
VT � Pace 22 yd FG


Around the ACC

My first try at picking the ACC games was not very
successful, going 3-3 overall. I was especially surprised at the North Carolina
upset of N.C. State with the BC/Clemson and Maryland/Wake Forest games being
close calls. Let�s give it a try again this week and see if I can do better.

Virginia (3-0) at Maryland (2-2)

UVA needs to control the ball on the ground against the
Terps, but injuries on the offensive line may limit the Wahoos rushing against a
stingy Maryland defense. Maryland needs a big game passing and watch for Vernon
Davis to be a major factor. I see a close, low-scoring game with Maryland
getting the upset by a field goal.

Clemson (2-2) at Wake Forest (1-3)

I picked both of these teams wrong last week with each
losing close games. Wake�s defense has looked shaky this season and their
offense is turning the ball over too much, so I see a solid Clemson squad
picking up the win on the road � Clemson by 7.

Ball State (0-3) at Boston College (3-1)

BC is just too big and physical for the Cardinals and the
Eagles should roll to an easy win � BC by 33.

Navy (0-2) at Duke (1-3)

To beat Navy, you must stop the run and Duke has not been
able to do that consistently this year. Duke�s offense has also been
inconsistent, but the Blue Devils should have more success in this game. I see
Navy pulling out a close win in a high-scoring game.

Utah (3-1) at North Carolina (1-2)

This game is really tough to call with UNC looking very
good last week and Utah has been inconsistent to say the least. The key to this
game is UNC�s ability to run since the Utes have struggled against strong
ground games, but I don�t see the Heels being able to consistently move the
ball and Utah�s offense, while young, is still very potent � Utah in a very
close game that will likely go down to the wire.

South Florida (3-1) at Miami (2-1)

Coming off a major upset of Louisville, the Bulls will be
riding high. However, South Florida may have just alerted the Hurricanes to pay
attention to their opponent from Tampa and Miami�s superior talent will be too
much for the Bulls � Miami by 31.

Syracuse (1-2) at Florida State (3-0)

The Orange put a scare in the Seminoles last season, but I
can�t see Syracuse upsetting Florida State at home. Syracuse will not be able
to move the ball against a good, aggressive FSU defense � Florida State by 21.


Other Big Games around the Nation

Southern Cal (3-0) at Arizona State (3-1)

The Wildcats will give the Trojans their best game thus
far, but USC�s superior offense will prevail in a high-scoring affair �
Southern Cal by 21.

Florida (4-0) at Alabama (4-0)

Mike Shula�s squad will be looking to pull off the upset
at home, but Florida�s improved discipline and superior talent will prove to
be the difference in a close, hard-fought game.

Iowa State(3-0) at Nebraska (3-0)

All of the discussion in Lincoln is about the West Coast
offense, but it�s the defense that will get the Huskers this victory as they
shut down the Iowa State running game � Nebraska by 14.

Michigan (2-2) at Michigan State (4-0)

Everyone seems to be writing off the Wolverines this
season, but Michigan still has a lot of talent. The question here is whether
Michigan can slow down Drew Stanton and the Michigan State passing attack. I say
they can and Michigan pulls off the upset by 4.

Minnesota (4-0) at Penn State (4-0)

The Golden Gophers are coming off a big overtime win
against Purdue and the Nittany Lions had to rally to get past Northwestern last
week. I would expect that this will be another close battle with the key being
PSU�s ability to contain the Minnesota ground attack � Penn State in
overtime.

Notre Dame (3-1) at Purdue (2-1)

Another tight contest that will come down to big plays at
the end. The Irish have some question marks in their secondary and I see the
Boilermakers pulling out the win, possibly in overtime.

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