2006 Game Projection: Virginia Tech vs. Cincinnati (and Others)

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Last week Virginia Tech unleashed the vertical passing game in dismantling an
overmatched Duke Blue Devil squad 36-0. Sean Glennon passed for over 300 yards
and the Hokie defense completely shut down the Duke offense. Cincinnati comes to
town this week after playing Ohio State tough for three quarters and leading for
much of the first half. The Bearcats bring the most athletic and aggressive
defense to face Virginia Tech to date, so the Hokies need to be ready.

While the Cincinnati defensive front is considerably smaller than Duke’s
front seven, the Bearcats present a different problem with their speed and
ability to get off of blocks. Ohio State’s offensive line struggled with the
quicker Cincy front early in the game, drawing at least half a dozen holding
penalties, including two on one play. The Bearcat defensive line is led by last
season’s Defensive Newcomer of the Year in the Big East, Terrill Byrd (#95,
6-0 285, So.). Defensive ends Anthony Hoke (#12, 6-1 245, Jr.) and Trevor
Anderson (#56, 6-2 258, So.) are playmakers, and Pittsburgh struggled blocking
small, but aggressive tackle Tony Carvitti (#53, 6-0 250, Sr.). The problem that
Cincinnati has had this year with their defensive line is a lack of depth, as
the smaller linemen tend to wear down late in the game.

Cincinnati’s linebackers are also very active led by Corey Smith (#42, 6-1
220, So.) and Kevin McCullough (#52, 6-2 240, Sr.). The Bearcats will rotate in
a number of outside linebackers and this unit appears to have the most depth on
the defense. The secondary plays very aggressively and is led by cornerback Mike
Mickens (#21, 6-0 165, So.) who made second-team All-Big East as a true freshman
last year. The other corner is manned by John Bowie (#33, 5-11 190, Sr.) who was
the Big East 100 Meter Dash champion last spring. Overall, Cincinnati has a
solid defensive unit that plays aggressively, but they will need to force a
number of turnovers from Virginia Tech to have a chance in this game.

Cincinnati has struggled offensively behind a young, and undersized,
offensive line. The running game has been nonexistent and pass protection has
been a major problem. The Bearcats allowed eight sacks last week against Ohio
State and have allowed 12 on the season. Dustin Grutza (#4, 6-2 212, r-So.) is
probably the best quarterback that Tech has faced this season to date, but he is
generally scrambling for his life. When Grutza does get time to throw, his
favorite target is tight end Brent Celek (#85, 6-4 260, Sr.). Tech will likely
have a defensive game plan that is similar to the Duke game, applying as much
pressure on Grutza as possible and trying to force mistakes.

Cincinnati may provide the Hokies with a good test, especially early in the
game, before the smaller linemen wear down. Like Duke, I can’t see the
Bearcats moving the ball very easily, so the Hokies need to take care of the
ball and establish field position early in the game. Tech’s receivers should
be able to exploit the aggressiveness of the Bearcat secondary and make some
plays while the line starts to wear down Cincinnati’s defense. I see Virginia
Tech pulling away in the second half and recording another solid victory. Virginia
Tech wins 38-3.

Around the ACC

Last week I went 6-3 in the ACC missing the Bowden Bowl, the aWakening in
Storrs, and the Charlottesville choke. That puts me at a respectable 21-7 for
the season predicting ACC games. Here are the results from last week:

Game Prediction Result

Duke at Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech by 37

Virginia Tech 36, Duke 0

Clemson at Florida State

Florida State by 6

Clemson 27, Florida State 20

Miami at Louisville

Louisville by 7

Louisville 31, Miami 7

Brigham Young at Boston College

Boston College by 6

Boston College 30, BYU 23

N.C. State at Southern Miss

Southern Miss by 2

South. Miss 37, N.C. State 17

Wake Forest at Connecticut

Connecticut by 4

Wake Forest 24, UConn 13

Troy at Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech by 18

Georgia Tech 35, Troy 20

Western Michigan at Virginia

Virginia by 15

Western Mich. 17, UVA 10

Furman at North Carolina

UNC by 11

UNC 45, Furman 42

Boston College (3-0; 1-0) at N.C. State (1-2; 0-0)

Chuck Amato is on the hot seat after the humiliation in Hattiesburg last
week, so the Wolfpack is switching quarterbacks and giving legacy Daniel Evans a
shot. However, the problem with N.C. State is less the QB and more with the lack
of a running game, but the change may revitalize the Pack’s dormant offense
nonetheless. Boston College is coming off of two double overtime victories and
the Eagles are probably ready for a let down. N.C. State could be a “trap game”
for BC, who looks to be an early favorite in the Atlantic Division. Matt Ryan
could be the best QB in the ACC and certainly one of the best pressure players,
so look for the Eagles to pull out yet another close win with a late rally. Boston
College by 3 (23-20)

North Carolina (1-2; 0-1) at Clemson (2-1; 1-1)

Will the Tigers have a let down after the big win in Tallahassee last week?
Will North Carolina be able to slow down the Clemson ground attack? The Tar
Heels could not defend the option last week against Furman and this week they
face the dynamic running game of the Clemson Tigers. Look for Clemson to try
some option wrinkles with Will Proctor at the helm and overpower the UNC
defensive front. Cam Sexton is looking more comfortable at QB for the Heels, but
UNC won’t generate enough offense to overtake Clemson. Clemson by 21
(38-17)

Wake Forest (3-0; 1-0) at Mississippi (1-2)

The undefeated Demon Deacons – yes, you read that right – travel to
Oxford to face Ed Orgeron’s Mississippi Rebels. Ole Miss should know Wake
Forest’s squad well as Orgeron hired former Miami assistants Dan Werner and
Art Kehoe as offensive coordinator and offensive line coach respectively.
However, the Rebels are still suffering from lackluster recruiting efforts by
the previous regime and have an extremely young team. The Demon Deacons, on the
other hand, have a veteran squad that has played remarkably well despite their
starting QB (Ben Mauk) and RB (Micah Andrews) going down with injuries. I see
Wake’s experience and an underrated defense being the difference with the
Demon Deacons remaining undefeated. Wake Forest by 7 (20-13)

Rice (0-3) at Florida State (2-1; 1-1)

Bobby Bowden is receiving exactly what the doctor ordered in some Owl soup
this weekend in Tallahassee. Coming into the season, Rice had abandoned their
option attack to go with a spread offense, but their first two quarterbacks have
been injured and they have had to revert to last year’s option QB, who had
been moved to wide receiver; not a good formula for playing an angry FSU squad
that needs to re-establish itself after last week’s loss to Clemson at home.
The Seminoles will finally run the ball on someone and Drew Weatherford will
regain some confidence as FSU rolls. Florida State by 31 (37-6)

Florida International (0-3) at Maryland (2-1; 0-0)

Don Strock’s Florida International Golden Panthers travel to College Park
to face Ralph Friedgen’s struggling Maryland Terrapins this weekend. The Terps
badly need to rebound after the humbling defeat by West Virginia last week on
national television. FIU is steadily improving, but Maryland has too much size
for the smaller Panthers. Look for the Terps to ground out some big yardage
rushing and to pull away in the second half. Maryland by 19 (35-16)

Other Big Games around the Nation

I was 11-2 predicting the ranked teams’ games on Separation Saturday which
makes me 46-4 on the season. I’ll take 92 percent any day. My two losses were
Michigan’s thrashing of the Passive Irish and Texas Tech’s loss to tougher
cross-state rival TCU. Not many big games this weekend as many teams have a bye
before the conference schedules begin. Here are the results from last week:

Game Prediction Result

LSU at Auburn

Auburn by 3

Auburn 7, LSU 3

Michigan at Notre Dame

Notre Dame by 2

Michigan 47, Notre Dame 21

Nebraska at USC

USC by 36

USC 28, Nebraska 10

Florida at Tennessee

Florida by 2

Florida 21, Tennessee 20

Oklahoma at Oregon

Oregon by 5

Oregon 34, Oklahoma 33

Texas Tech at TCU

Texas Tech by 1

TCU 12, Texas Tech 3

Cincinnati at Ohio State

Ohio State by 42

Ohio State 37, Cincinnati 7

Texas at Rice

Texas by 45

Texas 52, Rice 7

UAB at Georgia

Georgia by 29

Georgia 34, UAB 0

Iowa State at Iowa

Iowa by 20

Iowa 27, Iowa State 17

Portland State at California

California by 31

California 42, Portland St. 16

Arizona State at Colorado

Arizona State by 5

Arizona State 21, Colorado 3

Louisiana-Monroe at Alabama

Alabama by 28

Alabama 41, ULM 7

Arizona State (3-0) at California (2-1)

Two of the top contenders to dethrone USC in the Pac-10 square off in a
high-powered battle. Both teams feature explosive running backs in Marshawn
Lynch for Cal and Keegan Herring for ASU, but the game will likely come down to
the quarterback play and which team can slow down the other team’s big play
ability. Nate Longshore is settling in as the Golden Bears’ QB and Rudy
Carpenter is now at the helm for the Sun Devils after a heated quarterback
controversy in Tempe. I believe that Cal has the better defensive personnel and
will prevail in a high-scoring, entertaining game. California by 9 (37-28)

Penn State (2-1) at Ohio State (3-0)

The Nittany Lions travel to Columbus to face #1 Ohio State after winning last
year’s game 17-10. Last year’s “white-out” overcame the Buckeyes, but
this year JoePa will only be seeing scarlet as Ohio State will have too much
offense for Penn State. Troy Smith and the passing game will shred the young
Nittany Lion secondary and the Buckeyes will win going away. Ohio State by 19
(42-23)

Wisconsin (3-0) at Michigan (3-0)

Bret Bielema will get his first real test as the new coach of the Badgers as
Wisconsin visits the Big House. The Wolverines are coming off an impressive
victory over Notre Dame and look to keep the momentum going as they open the Big
10 season. As always, this game will be very physical, but Michigan has the
better skill position talent and the Wolverines should make some big plays to
pull away late. Michigan by 21 (34-13)

Notre Dame (2-1) at Michigan State (3-0)

The storyline on this game is the report that Charlie Weis told a booster
last summer that there was no way that he would lose to another Michigan State
team. The Spartans didn’t need any more motivation in facing the Fighting
Irish, but Weis gave John L. Smith’s squad some anyway. This game should be
entertaining with two of the nation’s top quarterbacks facing off – Brady
Quinn for Notre Dame and Drew Stanton for Michigan State. Stanton’s mobility
may give the Irish some trouble, as well as Matt Trannon’s size at wide
receiver, but in the end the Quinn-Samardzija combination will be too much for
the Spartans. Notre Dame by 13 (37-24)

Other games involving ranked teams:

Southern California over Arizona by 35 (49-14)

Auburn over Buffalo by 47 (47-0)

West Virginia over East Carolina by 21 (42-21)

Florida over Kentucky by 27 (34-7)

Georgia over Colorado by 26 (33-7)

Texas over Iowa State by 35 (42-7)

Louisville over Kansas State by 19 (26-7)

LSU over Tulane by 48 (51-3)

Iowa over Illinois by 23 (30-7)

Oklahoma over Middle Tennessee State by 32 (35-3)

Tennessee over Marshall by 23 (33-10)

Arkansas over Alabama by 2 (16-14)

Nebraska over Troy by 26 (40-14)

Boise State over Hawaii by 14 (38-24)

1-AA Games Around the State

For the 1-AA schools in the state of Virginia, I was once again 3-1 in my
predictions for last week, which makes me 11-3 for the season. The only loss was
Maine knocking off William & Mary in a minor upset. Here are the results
from last week:

Game Prediction Result

Maine at William & Mary

W&M by 13

Maine 20, William & Mary 17

VMI at Richmond

Richmond by 32

Richmond 58, VMI 7

North Carolina A&T at Hampton

Hampton by 29

Hampton 48, NC A&T 14

Liberty at Towson

Towson by 14

Towson 10, Liberty 3

The best 1-AA game in-state this week will have James Madison hosting
Virginia Tech’s first opponent, Northeastern, in an Atlantic 10 contest. The
Dukes will get some idea how they would stack up with the Hokies after this
game.

James Madison over Northeastern by 17 (27-10)

Richmond over Bucknell by 27 (34-7)

William & Mary over VMI by 29 (42-13)

Hampton over Morgan State by 27 (41-14)

Bethune-Cookman over Norfolk State by 21 (38-17)

Liberty over Savannah State by 16 (23-7)

Have fun watching all of the games this weekend and be safe traveling!

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