2005 Game Projection: Virginia Tech vs. North Carolina

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Virginia Tech rebounded last week with a resounding win over rival Virginia and, with a victory over North Carolina, has the opportunity to play in the first ACC Championship Game against Florida State, thanks to a stunning upset of Miami by Georgia Tech. The Hokies dominated the Cavaliers last week in all phases of the game, so can we expect the same this week in the North Carolina game?

The statistical model projected a one-sided game last week against Virginia and, I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical that the game would be that easy. So, how close did the model come to the actual results? Let�s take a quick look back at last week�s game:

Virginia Tech at Virginia
Virginia Tech Virginia
Projected Actual Projected Actual

First Downs
23 26 14 17

Rushing Attempts � Yards
44-181 55-333 30-101 30-114

Passing Completions � Attempts
18-26 15-21 14-27 17-30

Passing Yards
211 170 141 140

2 1 2 3

The only significant difference from the projections was Tech�s total domination on the ground, with the Hokies breaking off a number of big runs. The success of the ground game and one-sided score resulted in less passes being thrown, though that projection is still reasonably close. The Virginia statistics are extremely close to the projections, so the Tech defense performed up to expectations (as did the UVA offense).

The scoring model was off by quite a bit last week, projecting the score to be 16-13. I don�t believe anyone, other than the most optimistic of fans, saw a blowout victory coming. So, should we anticipate another one-sided game this Saturday night in Lane Stadium? Here is this week�s statistical projection for the game:

2005 Projection
North Carolina Virginia Tech

First Downs
13 22

Rushing Attempts � Yards
30-61 47-181

Passing Completions � Attempts
14-28 14-22

Passing Yards
164 201

2 1

The statistical model has the Hokies totally dominating the game, out-gaining the Tar Heels 382 to 225. The most impressive statistic is the total shutdown of the UNC running game. Hopefully, these projected statistics hold up in the actual game and the score reflects this domination.

Here�s my prediction on the scoring:

North Carolina  0   3  0  7 -- 10
Virginia Tech  10  14  7  7 -- 38

VT � Humes 4 yd run (Pace kick)
VT � Pace 33 yd FG
VT � Clowney 41 yd pass from Vick (Pace kick)
VT � Royal 11 yd pass from Vick (Pace kick)
UNC � Barth 37 yd FG
VT � Ore 12 yd run (Pace kick)
UNC � McGill 2 yd run (Barth kick)
VT � Bell 3 yd run (Pace kick)

So, how does this projection compare with last year�s game? Let�s take a look back at the statistics from last year�s hard-fought 27-24 Hokie victory to see the differences from the statistical projection:

Virginia Tech North Carolina

First Downs
23 13

Rushing Attempts � Yards
51-270 26-131

Passing Completions � Attempts
7-18 14-21

Passing Yards
100 165

0 1

Sacks By
3 4

The statistics are comparable to last year with the Hokies having less success on the ground this year, likely attributed to an improved rush defense for UNC. The Heels have less offensive success as well, which is likely due to Tech�s improvement on defense. Last year Tech controlled the ball but failed to put North Carolina away, but this year I see Tech pulling away and winning the Coastal Division title.

Around the ACC

I was 3-2 again last week predicting games in the ACC, missing the Georgia Tech upset of Miami and Clemson defeat of South Carolina. This week has some important, and extremely competitive, games with bowl destinations still up in the air for most of the conference.

Georgia (8-2) at Georgia Tech (7-3)

Two very good defenses clash for supremacy in the state of Georgia, with the Yellow Jackets carrying a great deal of momentum after the stunning upset of Miami last week. If either team generates much offense, then that should be enough to win this game. The team that makes the fewest mistakes will likely win, and I�ll go with D.J. Shockley and the Bulldogs in a very close game � Georgia by 1.

Florida State (7-3) at Florida (7-3)

This game normally is high-scoring, but I see a defensive struggle given the inconsistencies of both offenses this year. Both teams have struggled lately, dropping games to teams from the state of South Carolina, so both need to rebound going into the post-season. FSU has slightly better talent overall than the Gators, so I see an upset in a very tight game � Florida State by 1.

Virginia (6-4) at Miami (8-2)

The pride of two programs is at stake in Coral Gables as the Cavaliers look to rebound from their humiliating defeat last week and the Hurricanes seek retribution for being knocked out of the BCS picture by Georgia Tech. The Wahoos will play much better, particularly on run defense, to keep this one close, but Miami has too many weapons in the end � Miami by 15.

Maryland (5-5) at N.C. State (5-5)

These two inconsistent teams are playing to become the ACC�s eighth bowl-eligible team. I still like the Wolfpack�s defense, so if State can generate some offense on the ground and prevent mistakes, I see a Pack victory. The Terps defense is capable of shutting down N.C. State, so this one should be close � N.C. State by 2.

Other Big Games around the Nation

I was 5-1 last week, just missing the Ohio State-Michigan game, and that one could have gone either way. Not many competitive games outside of the ACC this weekend, though major bowls could be impacted with an upset.

Texas (10-0) at Texas A&M (5-5)

This game will likely be over by the time the article is posted, but I see Texas pulling away late over an emotionally charged Aggie squad � Texas by 27.

Arkansas (4-6) at LSU (9-1)

The Razorbacks stand between the Tigers and an SEC championship game, so I don�t give Arkansas much of a chance, despite some improved play of late � LSU by 20.

Notre Dame (8-2) at Stanford (5-5)

The Cardinal can prevent the Fighting Irish from receiving an at-large BCS bid and make themselves bowl eligible, but Notre Dame has too much talent and too much to play for � Notre Dame by 12.

1-AA Playoff Games

I was 5-0 in the last week of the regular season picking the in-state 1-AA schools. Here are my predictions for the first round of the 1-AA playoffs which start this week:

New Hampshire (my pick to win it) over Colgate by 14
Georgia Southern over Texas State by 12
Eastern Washington over Northern Iowa by 4
Hampton over Richmond by 1
Montana over Cal Poly by 4
Furman over Nicholls State by 16
Southern Illinois over Eastern Illinois by 11
Appalachian State over Lafayette by 8.5

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