2005 Game Projection: VT vs. Virginia

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After a disappointing loss to Miami ended any hopes of a national
championship for Virginia Tech, the Hokies will try to rebound against their
hated rivals, the Virginia Cavaliers. While the Miami game may have been the �biggest�
game of the year for Tech, the UVA contest may be the most important. Virginia
Tech is still very much alive in the BCS bowl hunt and a win over the Cavaliers
would keep the Hokies in the picture for a prestigious bowl (likely the Fiesta,
but more on that later). Saturday against Virginia, Hokie fans will find out if
this team has the character and leadership that many believe and will rebound
with a focused effort and victory over the Cavaliers, or as some believe, will
the Hokies lose motivation and play an uninspired game and be upset by the
Wahoos.

Virginia became bowl-eligible last weekend with the win over Georgia Tech, so
a victory over the Hokies will only elevate the Cavaliers� status for a better
bowl. Of course, state bragging rights are at stake and potentially the
perceptions of high school prospects could be swayed, but in looking for
motivation for this game, the Hokies appear to have more to gain with a victory.
In an ironic twist, Virginia could actually be better off with respect to the
bowls by losing to Virginia Tech. Yes, you read that correctly. If the Hokies
receive an at-large BCS bid, then all of the other ACC schools would be elevated
one bowl slot.

Florida State is likely headed to the Peach Bowl (assuming they lose to Miami
in the ACC Championship game) since they just visited Jacksonville. A Boston
College win over Maryland would probably send the Eagles to the Gator Bowl to
play Louisville. Virginia, even with late-season losses to Virginia Tech and
Miami, could well be in line for the next bowl slot since there is a good chance
that the other bowl-eligible ACC teams would also be 6-5. In this scenario, UVA
stands a good chance at playing in either Orlando or Charlotte, but a Wahoo
victory over Tech might actually send Virginia to a lesser bowl, especially if
Clemson knocks off South Carolina. I seriously doubt I could convince any Wahoo
fan of this argument, but the reality exists that the Cavaliers could receive a
better bowl with a loss this Saturday.

Lots of bowl scenarios to contemplate, but let�s get back to the game at
hand � Virginia Tech at Virginia. How does the computer see this game turning
out? Here are the projected statistics:


2005 Projection
Virginia
Tech
Virginia
First Downs 23 14
Rushing Attempts � Yards 44-181 30-101
Passing Completions � Attempts 18-26 14-27
Passing Yards 211 141
Turnovers 2 2

The statistical model provides a rather surprising result with the Hokies
dominating the total yardage, 392 to 242, and controlling the ball. I�m sure
the Tech coaches would love to see these results in the actual game. A couple of
factors could be influencing these projections, particularly with respect to
UVA. The Cavaliers have had numerous injuries to their offensive line during the
season as well as having their star defensive player, Ahmad Brooks, injured for
much of the year, so statistically Virginia has not played as well as expected.
The Wahoos are as healthy now as they have been all year, so they may play much
better than the statistics project. In any event, the yardage statistics greatly
favor the Hokies, but will the score reflect these statistics?

Here�s my prediction on the scoring:

Virginia Tech   3   3   3   7 -- 16
Virginia        3   7   3   0 -- 13

VT � Pace 20 yd FG
UVA – Hughes 41 yd FG
VT – Pace 29 yd FG
UVA � Lundy 2 yd run (Huges kick)
UVA � Hughes 44 yd FG
VT � Pace 25 yd FG
VT – Morgan 37 yd pass from Vick (pace kick)

Tech struggles in the red zone having to settle for three field goals while
UVA converts their opportunities, but in the end Tech comes out on top. I see a
tough, hard-fought defensive struggle with the Hokies frustrated by missed
opportunities. The Tech defense keeps the Hokies in the game and Vick will make
enough plays to get the victory.

So, how does this projection compare with last year�s game? Let�s take a
look back at the statistics from last year�s 24-10 Hokie victory to see the
differences from the statistical projection:


2004
Virginia
Tech
Virginia
First Downs 19 14
Rushing Attempts � Yards 40-147 46-188
Passing Completions � Attempts 16-22 8-14
Passing Yards 200 111
Turnovers 1 2
Sacks By 3 2

The statistics look fairly similar with Tech gaining more yardage on the
ground this year and holding down the Wahoo ground attack. UVA will throw the
ball more this year while Tech has similar results. Naturally, lots can change
during the game itself, but I see Tech winning a close game by controlling the
ball and winning the line-of-scrimmage.

Around the ACC

I was 3-2 last week predicting games in the ACC, missing the Clemson
thrashing of Florida State, though I did see the potential of an upset in this
game, and the Maryland win over North Carolina. I should receive a bonus point
for predicting that the UNC-Maryland game would go into overtime, but the home
field advantage didn�t hold. This week has a number of important contests in
the ACC that will be critical for determining bowl slots

Georgia Tech (6-3) at Miami (8-1)

Miami didn�t have any let down last week after the emotional win over
Virginia Tech and I don�t see the Yellow Jackets being able to slow down the
surging Hurricanes. Miami�s defense will stop the Georgia Tech running game
and the Rambling Wreck�s only hope is for big plays to Calvin Johnson in the
passing game. Kyle Wright will continue to improve as Miami rolls � Miami
by 17.

Boston College (7-3) at Maryland (5-4)

Maryland needs a victory over the Eagles or N.C. State next week to become
bowl eligible. Boston College looked impressive in destroying N.C. State last
week, but Maryland continues to scrap, winning a tough game on the road last
week at North Carolina. BC should control the line-of-scrimmage in this game,
but the Terps will make some big plays in the passing game. Look for another
tight finish � Boston College by 1.

Duke (1-9) at North Carolina (4-5)

The Blue Devils have their last chance at salvaging some respect for a dismal
season, while the Heels need a victory to keep any bowl hopes alive. Duke�s
passing game is almost non-existent and the Devils won�t be able to stop
Carolina�s running game � North Carolina by 19.

Clemson (6-4) at South Carolina (7-3)

Both teams are coming off huge upsets of powerhouses from the state of
Florida, so this game should be a barn-burner. Both teams have been impressive
on defense and make just enough plays on offense to win, so this game looks even
on paper (and the computer projects it as even). I�ll go with the home team to
win by a field goal in overtime � South Carolina by 3 in OT.

Middle Tennessee State (3-5) at N.C. State (4-5)

The Wolfpack defense will be too much for an erratic Blue Raiders offense.
N.C. State keeps their bowl hopes alive despite their offense�s inconsistency
� N.C. State by 19.

Other Big Games around the Nation

I was 5-5 last week missing the Auburn-Georgia, South Carolina-Florida,
Arizona State-UCLA, Iowa State-Colorado, and Iowa-Wisconsin games (but I got 4
of those 5 right against the spread). Lots of great games last week,
particularly the two contests in the SEC, and rivalry week almost guarantees
that we�ll have more upsets this week as the bowl picture begins to shake out.

I�ll talk about some of the implications for Virginia Tech�s chances to
receive an at-large BCS bid below, but basically it appears that the Hokies are
in the driver�s seat to receive the last BCS spot available, if they take care
of business against UVA and UNC. Notre Dame will receive one of the at-large
spots if it defeats Syracuse and Stanford, and Tech looks more attractive than
any of the other one-loss teams right now for the other spot. The other
potential one-loss teams are Alabama and Oregon, and Tech would seem to be a
more favorable choice over both of these teams. A two-loss Ohio State would be
attractive, but I can�t see the Buckeyes getting the at-large spot over a
one-loss Virginia Tech team. If Tech should get the at-large BCS bid, the Hokies
would probably play Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl.

But enough BCS speculation, let�s look at the games for this week

Alabama (9-1) at Auburn (8-2)

As I said last week, Auburn could be Virginia Tech�s best friend by
knocking Alabama out of BCS bowl contention. Auburn is playing exceptionally
well right now, possibly as good as any team in the SEC, and the Crimson Tide is
still struggling on offense despite their defense�s heroic efforts. Auburn
makes enough big plays in the passing game to pull out the victory in a tough,
defensive struggle � Auburn by 10.

Ohio State (8-2) at Michigan (7-3)

For once this game is not for the Big 10 championship (unless Penn State
falters), but the magnitude of the contest still remains. Michigan has been
inconsistent offensively and the Wolverine defense isn�t as strong as usual,
but a ton of talent still exists in Ann Arbor. Ohio State has also struggled
offensively at times and, despite a number of marquis players, the defense has
not performed up to expectations. This heated rivalry will likely be decided by
the big-play receivers and I�m going with the upset � Michigan by 3.

Penn State (9-1) at Michigan State (5-5)

Joe Paterno and the Nittany Lions can win the Big 10 title with a victory
over the erratic Spartans, so I can�t see Penn State letting up. Drew Stanton
will provide some problems with the wide-open passing game of Michigan State,
but Penn State will eventually grind out the win in a closer game than most
anticipate � Penn State by 4.

Oklahoma (6-3) at Texas Tech (8-2)

After the shocking upset by Oklahoma State last week, the Red Raiders will be
ready to rebound against that �other� team in Oklahoma. The Sooners have
struggled against good passing teams and Texas Tech is one of the best. Expect
Cody Hodges to put up some big numbers and the Red Raiders will win a shoot-out
� Texas Tech by 8.

Fresno State (8-1) at USC (10-0)

The Bulldogs are feisty and unafraid, but the Trojans are just too talented.
Fresno State won�t be able to slow down Reggie Bush and company, though they
will provide a tougher test than most of USC�s Pac 10 foes � USC by 16.

Oregon State (5-5) at Oregon (9-1)

In one of the country�s best in-state rivalries, the Beavers will try to
slow down the high-powered attack of the Ducks in the �Civil War.� This game
should be a typical Pac 10 high-scoring affair, but the Ducks will have just
enough defense to prevail � Oregon by 17.

1-AA Games Around the State

I was 5-1 last week only missing the Delaware win over William & Mary.
This is the last week of regular season games in 1-AA before the playoffs with
Hampton sure to get a bid and Richmond likely to make the playoffs by winning
the Atlantic 10 Middle Atlantic Division.

James Madison over Towson by 23
Richmond over William & Mary by 3 in OT
Citadel over VMI by 7
Norfolk State over Liberty by 1
Hampton over Savannah State by 49

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