2005 Game Projection: Virginia Tech vs. Boston College

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A Thursday night game in Blacksburg means a sure win, right? As Lee Corso, in
the booth, will surely say, �Not so fast my friend�� Looking at Boston
College�s offensive statistics, you have to be impressed with the consistency
� an average of 25 first downs a game with a low of 22 (against Brigham
Young); at least 133 yards rushing in every game, except against Wake Forest in
the rain (84 yards); at least 221 yards passing (against Clemson) in every game.
Offensively, Boston College will definitely be the best team that Tech has
played thus far.

So, Tech should be able to move the ball on the Eagles, right? BC held
Florida State to 14 first downs and 13 yards rushing. Only two teams have made
over 20 first downs against Boston College � BYU with 22 and UVA with 25; the
most yards rushing against BC was by UVA with 145 and 5 of their 7 opponents
were held to 102 yards or less on the ground; only two teams have passed for
over 200 yards against BC � BYU with 330 yards on 60 passes and FSU with 231
yards. Looks like BC�s defense is just as good as their offense� and the
Eagles are very good on the road.

So, is Tech potentially in trouble in this game? Let�s see what the
statistical model projects (I�ve done some �tweaking� this week, so we�ll
see if the �improvements� make a difference):

2005 Projection
Virginia Tech Boston College

First Downs
19 18

Rushing Attempts � Yards
40-129 30-111

Passing Completions � Attempts
17-24 20-34

Passing Yards
156 197

1 3

Sacks By
2 3

The computer has Boston College out-gaining Virginia Tech 308 to 285, but the
Hokies are +2 in net turnovers, which may be the difference in the game. Special
teams may play a huge role in this game as well. Personally, I think Tech will
try to spread BC out with the passing game and then open up the run later. I see
Tech using a number of multi-receiver sets to attack the perimeter and test
their secondary. My personal projection is that Tech will throw the ball about
an equal number of times to running it, so the passing yardage may go up
dramatically in this game.

Boston College is definitely capable of staying with the Hokies, so the fans
better come prepared to be a factor in the outcome. My �other� computer
model that predicts the outcomes of games is a lot more optimistic (this one is
much older and more tested). I believe that home field advantage and special
teams will be major factors in this game, even though the final yardage may come
out relatively even. Boston College will be a great test to see if this Hokie
team is really a serious contender for the national championship.

Here�s my prediction on the scoring:

Boston College 0 3 0 7 -- 10
Virginia Tech 10 7 7 7 -- 31

VT � Pace 32 yd FG VT � King 9 yd pass from Vick (Pace kick) MD � Ohliger 24 yd FG VT � Hamilton 14 yd return of a blocked punt (Pace kick) VT � Morgan 28 yd pass from Vick (Pace kick) BC � Toal 2 yd run (Ohliger kick) VT � Vick 7 yd run (Pace kick)

Before getting to my other predictions (using the �obviously� more
reliable model), let�s look at how the newer model did in the Maryland game:

Virginia Tech at Maryland
Projected Actual Projected Actual

First Downs
22 25 13 16

Rushing Attempts � Yards
46-168 48-286 33-122 33-96

Passing Completions � Attempts
14-19 14-23 12-22 14-30

Passing Yards
211 211 135 158

0 4 3 2

Sacks By
2 4 3 1

Obviously, the computer didn�t anticipate Marcus Vick running wild � if
he had his typical 20 yards or so rushing, then the total yardage for Tech would
be very close to the prediction. Also, I have to brag about Tech�s passing
yardage prediction � right on the nose for yardage and the number of
completions. Also, Maryland�s total yardage was very close to the projection
� 254 actual versus 257 projected. Turnovers were way off, but otherwise the
model did very well in predicting this game. Hmmm, maybe I shouldn�t be
tweaking this model�

Around the ACC

I was just 2-2 last week in the ACC, missing the UNC-UVA snooze fest (yes, I
did actually watch that entire game � only dozed off twice) and the N.C. State
downward spiral. Some interesting games to watch this week, with the VT-BC game
being at the forefront.

Clemson (4-3) at Georgia Tech (4-2)

This contest should be very close with both teams needing the win for bowl
positioning. At times, each of these teams has looked very good, but neither has
been a picture of consistency. The computer has this game even and overtime is
definitely a possibility, particularly in any game involving Clemson. The Tigers
have looked good recently in defeating N.C. State a week after the Yellow
Jackets lost to the Pack, and Clemson definitely has the experience in close
games this year � Clemson by a field goal in overtime.

North Carolina (3-3) at Miami (5-1)

These two teams are actually tied for second in the Coastal Division, but I
can�t see this game being that close. First, Miami wants revenge for last year�s
upset in Chapel Hill; second, UNC couldn�t move the ball on UVA, so how do
they expect to score on the Canes?; and third, Miami has had three easy games in
a row to get the kinks out of their offense and give Kyle Wright some experience
� Miami by 28.

Maryland (4-3) at Florida State (6-1)

The Terps still have some hope since they play the two teams just ahead of
them in the Atlantic Division, but the Seminoles have too much talent and speed
even with the quarterback difficulties. Also, FSU still smarts from last year�s
loss, so revenge will be on everyone�s mind in Tallahassee � Florida
State by 23

Wake Forest (3-5) at Duke (1-7)

Wake Forest is the one ACC opponent that might not physically overmatch the
Blue Devils, but Duke has struggled stopping the run and the one thing that the
Demon Deacons do well is run the ball. Duke just lost their best linebacker,
Patrick Bailey, for the season, so I can�t even give them a shot in this game,
though it will be much closer than the usual drubbing in Durham � Wake
Forest by 10.

Southern Miss (4-2) at N.C. State (2-4)

Oh joy, I get to try to predict what will happen to N.C. State next. Amato
has switched quarterbacks to give Marcus Stone a try and that certainly can�t
hurt, but what he really needs is to light a fire under his underachieving
defense. Southern Miss is not exactly a model of consistency either, so what the
heck, I�ll go with the Pack by 9.

Other Big Games around the Nation

I was 3-0 last week accurately predicting Texas to rout Texas Tech, LSU
squeaking by Auburn in easily the best game from last week, and Alabama
out-slugging Tennessee 6-3 (I only dozed off once). Not much going on this
weekend outside of the �World�s Largest Cocktail Party,� but I�ll
include the games involving the undefeated teams that are left and a couple of
others in the Big 10 that could be interesting.

Georgia (7-0) vs. Florida (5-2)

All of the talk has revolved around the availability of Georgia quarterback
D.J. Shockley, but the key to this game is whether the Bulldogs defense can hold
down the Gators. Chris Leak is still not comfortable in Urban Meyer�s offense,
but the Gators still have plenty of weapons and are a dangerous team. Georgia
hasn�t moved the ball that well even with Shockley at the helm, so the
Bulldogs defense will need to come up big � I�m going with Florida by 5
just so one of the undefeated teams goes down.

Washington State (3-4) at USC (7-0)

The Cougars almost knocked off California in the wildest game from last
weekend (42-38) and lost a shoot out to UCLA 44-41 the previous week, but their
secondary is too questionable to contain Matt Leinert, Reggie Bush, Dwayne
Jarrett, and� you get the picture � USC by 32.

Texas (7-0) at Oklahoma State (3-4)

The Cowboys are trying to install a new, wide-open offense without the
personnel, so I see little chance for the �other� team from Oklahoma. The
Longhorns continue to roll and Vince Young stays on course for the Heisman � Texas
by 35

Utah State (2-4) at Alabama (7-0)

Let�s see, the Aggies just got trounced by Fresno State and Boise State in
the last two weeks and now they get to travel to Tuscaloosa for the Tide�s
homecoming � Alabama by 31.

UCLA (7-0) at Stanford (4-2)

Finally, we get a game this weekend involving an undefeated team that might
be close. Stanford has quietly won three straight over Washington State,
Arizona, and Arizona State even showing some signs of a defense (they play
defense in the Pac 10?). The Bruins have looked exceptional on offense in recent
weeks and Maurice Jones-Drew and company have too much for the Cardinal � UCLA
by 9
in another Pac 10 shoot-out.

Ohio State (5-2) at Minnesota (5-2)

An interesting match-up between star running back Laurence Maroney for the
Golden Gophers and the heralded linebacker trio of the Buckeyes � A.J. Hawk,
Bobby Carpenter, and Anthony Schlegel. I�ll go with the Buckeye defense
winning a good game � Ohio State by 9.

Michigan (5-3) at Northwestern (5-2)

Don�t look now, but the Wildcats are in contention for the Big 10
championship and should have beaten Penn State in their only conference loss.
The Wolverines have been uncharacteristically erratic, but they still have too
much firepower for the men in purple � Michigan by 8.

1-AA Games Around the State

I was 4-3 last week missing the Delaware upset of James Madison (34-28) that
may have ended the Dukes hope of making the playoffs and defending their
championship, Richmond�s nice win over a very good Hofstra squad (43-37), and
Gardner-Webb�s umpteen overtime victory over the Keydets of VMI (55-52) �
looks like they play as much defense in 1-AA as they do in the Pac 10. Here are
my picks for this week:

James Madison over Richmond by 15
William & Mary over Villanova by 4
Coastal Carolina over VMI by 8
Gardner-Webb over Liberty by 13
Howard over Norfolk State by 7

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