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

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After receiving a scare from an underrated Cincinnati Bearcat squad last
week, the Hokies play their first big game of the season as the Georgia Tech
Yellow Jackets come to town in hopes of avenging last year’s 51-7 catastrophe.
Many Hokie fans are predicting the Rambling Wreck to upset Virginia Tech, and
that possibility certainly exists, but Georgia Tech has just as many concerns as
the Hokies right now. At first glance, both teams appear evenly matched, so we
should see an exciting game on Saturday.

Georgia Tech has arguably the best wide receiver in the nation in Calvin
Johnson (#21, 6-5 235, Jr.), who has all of the tools any coach could desire for
that position. However, the Yellow Jackets lack a complimentary receiver, and
their tight ends are primarily blockers, so the Hokies will likely double-team
Johnson on every play using press coverage at the line with a deep zone to
protect on long passes. Containing Calvin Johnson has probably kept Bud Foster
and the defensive coaches up late all week.

Georgia Tech’s running game is solid behind an experienced, though
undersized, offensive line. Tashard Choice (#22, 6-1 205, r-Jr.) has become the
main back after transferring from Oklahoma three years ago, and his back-up,
Rashaun Grant (#3, 5-10 200, r-Jr.) is a big-play threat. The enigmatic Reggie
Ball (#1, 5-11 195, Sr.) is a threat to run at quarterback, which makes
preparation for the Yellow Jackets especially tough. However, as we saw last
year, Ball is prone to mistakes, so look for Virginia Tech to try to confuse him
with zone blitzes and mixing various coverage schemes.

Speaking of zone blitzes, John Tenuta, the defensive coordinator for Georgia
Tech, is possibly the king of creative blitzes sending linebackers, cornerbacks,
safeties, cheerleaders, waterboys, etc. Sean Glennon will have a huge challenge
in reading the coverage and getting the offense into the best play. The Hokies
need to recognize and pick up the blitzes and then get the ball to the receivers
or backs to make plays.

Georgia Tech has one of the most athletic linebacker units in the country in
Philip Wheeler (#41, 6-2 225, r-Jr.), KaMichael Hall (#35, 6-0 225, Sr.), and
Gary Guyton (#58, 6-2 235, Jr.), so Virginia Tech needs to be aware of their
alignment at all times. The GT linebackers are very aggressive, so Virginia Tech
needs to take advantage of opportunities presented by over pursuit. Look for
Brandon Ore to be a major factor in the game either cutting back on runs, or
swinging out of the backfield on passes.

The secondary for the Yellow Jackets is inexperienced, so the Hokies need to
take advantage of GT’s youth, particularly at the one cornerback spot. Kenny
Scott (#2, 6-2 185, Sr.) is a three-year starter at one corner, but the opposite
corner has been a weak point so far for Georgia Tech. Also, both safeties are
first-year starters, so opportunities will be present in the passing game.

Unquestionably Georgia Tech presents the Hokies with their biggest test to
date, but both teams have some questions, and the team that can exploit the
other’s weaknesses will likely win the game. I see the Hokies making some big
plays in the passing game and Brandon Ore breaking loose at least a couple of
times, while Georgia Tech’s offense will remain inconsistent. The game could
easily swing either way on a big play or two, but I see more opportunities for
the Hokies to make the game-changing plays so I’m going with the Hokies. Virginia
Tech wins 24-9.

Around the ACC

Last week I went 5-1 in the ACC, only missing the last minute N.C. State
victory over Boston College. That puts me at 26-8 for the season predicting ACC
games. Here are the results from last week:

Game Prediction Result
Cincinnati at Virginia Tech Virginia Tech by 35 Virginia Tech 29, Cinn. 16
Boston College at N.C. State Boston College by 3 N.C. State 17, BC 15
North Carolina at Clemson Clemson by 21 Clemson 52, North Carolina 7
Wake Forest at Mississippi Wake Forest by 7 Wake Forest 27, Ole Miss 3
Rice at Florida State Florida State by 31 Florida State 55, Rice 7
Florida International at Maryland Maryland by 19 Maryland 14, FIU 10

Virginia (1-3; 0-1) at Duke (0-4; 0-3)

Two inept offenses will dual in Durham as the winless Blue Devils host the
floundering Wahoos. Many Hokie fans are predicting a Duke win, but I have
trouble picking the Blue Devils because of their limited offensive capabilities.
However, UVA hasn’t looked any better on offense, so the game will likely come
down to turnovers and special teams. The team that can gain a field position
advantage will likely win. I see Virginia as the more “desperate” team right
now, so I’ll go with the Hoos in a snoozefest. Virginia by 10 (17-7)

Houston (4-0) at Miami (1-2)

Houston’s high-powered passing attack rolls into the Orange Bowl to test
the struggling Hurricanes. Miami is at a critical point in their season as they
can either rebound and start playing up to expectations, or they can fall apart
and send Coker out the door. The Hurricanes’ defense is still playing well and
the Louisville loss looked worse on the scoreboard than on the field, so I see
Miami bouncing back and handing the surprising Cougars a resounding loss. The
offense still needs some work behind a makeshift offensive line, but Kyle Wright
and Tyrone Moss should put some points on the board. Miami by 24 (31-7)

Louisiana Tech (1-2) at Clemson (3-1)

Clemson is probably playing the best football in the ACC right now, and the
Tigers are simply too strong in the trenches for the Bulldogs. Look for James
Davis and company to roll up some big rushing yardage as Clemson rolls to an
easy win. Clemson by 27 (41-14)

Maine (2-1) at Boston College (3-1)

The Eagles need a breather after three straight nail-biters, and the Black
Bears are exactly what the doctor ordered. Boston College should overpower Maine
with little difficulty and give their starters some rest in preparation for
Virginia Tech in 12 days. Boston College by 34 (41-7)

Liberty (3-1) at Wake Forest (4-0)

Why are these teams playing? Okay, I can see scheduling 1-AA teams, but
Liberty is not a good 1-AA team and provides no test whatsoever for the Demon
Deacons. Wake Forest will roll up some huge rushing numbers and give their
back-ups a great deal of work. Wake Forest by 46 (49-3)

Other Big Games around the Nation

I was 18-0 predicting the ranked teams’ games last weekend, which makes me
64-4 on the season. Not a lot of good games this weekend, with many ranked teams
having byes or playing a 1-AA school before the conference schedule ramps up.
Here are the results from last week:

Game Prediction Result
Arizona State at California California by 9 California 49, ASU 21
Penn State at Ohio State Ohio State by 19 Ohio State 28, Penn State 6
Wisconsin at Michigan Michigan by 21 Michigan 27, Wisconsin 13
Notre Dame at Michigan State Notre Dame by 13 Notre Dame 40, Michigan State 37
USC at Arizona USC by 35 USC 20, Arizona 3
Buffalo at Auburn Auburn by 47 Auburn 38, Buffalo 7
West Virginia at East Carolina WVU by 21 West Virginia 27, East Carolina 10
Kentucky at Florida Florida by 27 Florida 26, Kentucky 7
Colorado at Georgia Georgia by 26 Georgia 14, Colorado 13
Iowa State at Texas Texas by 35 Texas 37, Iowa State 14
Louisville at Kansas State Louisville by 19 Louisville 24, Kansas State 6
Tulane at LSU LSU by 48 LSU 49, Tulane 7
Iowa at Illinois Iowa by 23 Iowa 24, Illinois 7
Middle Tennessee at Oklahoma Oklahoma by 32 Oklahoma 59, MTSU 0
Marshall at Tennessee Tennessee by 23 Tennessee 32, Marshall 7
Alabama at Arkansas Arkansas by 2 Arkansas 24, Alabama 23
Troy at Nebraska Nebraska by 26 Nebraska 56, Troy 0
Hawaii at Boise State Boise State by 14 Boise State 41, Hawaii 34

Ohio State (4-0; 1-0) at Iowa (4-0; 1-0)

The top game for the day has #1 Ohio State visiting #13 Iowa in possibly the
last big test for the Buckeyes before Michigan. The Hawkeyes will need a huge
day from quarterback Drew Tate, who is returning from an abdominal injury, and
Iowa will need productivity from underrated running back Albert Young. Iowa has
a solid defensive front, but the secondary is inexperienced, which could be the
difference when facing the potent passing attack of Ohio State. Look for Troy
Smith to have a big day throwing to Ted Ginn and Anthony Gonzalez and the
Buckeyes to remain at #1 after a struggle with Iowa. Ohio State by 5 (28-23)

Alabama (3-1; 1-1) at Florida (4-0; 2-0)

The Gators will be looking for revenge after last year’s debacle in
Tuscaloosa, as Chris Leak is becoming increasingly comfortable with Urban Meyer’s
spread option offense. For the Tide to have a chance in this game, Ken Darby
will need to have a huge day rushing against an improved Florida defense led by
linebackers Brandon Siler and Earl Everett. Look for a hard-hitting defensive
battle with Florida’s playmakers at receiver being the difference. Florida
by 15 (21-6)

Oregon (3-0; 1-0) at Arizona State (3-1; 0-1)

Arizona State is coming off a disappointing performance against California,
and the Sun Devils desperately need a win to stay in the Pac-10 race. Oregon
will attack the questionable Arizona State secondary, so look for huge wide-out
Jaison Williams (6-5 243) to have a big day. The Sun Devils should have some
success running the ball behind sophomore Keegan Herring against the shaky run
defense of the Ducks, so expect a typical high-scoring Pac-10 shoot out. Oregon
by 3 (37-34)

Texas Tech (3-1) at Texas A&M (4-0)

An important Big 12 match-up sees the Red Raiders traveling to College
Station to face the Aggies. Texas Tech has been disappointing so far on offense
and the A&M defense, led by tackle Red Bryant and linebacker Justin Warren,
looks solid, which likely means a low-scoring battle. I like the Aggies to win a
defensive struggle. Texas A&M by 2 (16-14)

Other games involving ranked teams:

Southern California over Washington State by 26 (33-7)

Michigan over Minnesota by 18 (28-10)

Texas over Sam Houston State by 63 (63-0)

Georgia over Mississippi by 26 (29-3)

LSU over Mississippi State by 36 (42-6)

Notre Dame over Purdue by 17 (34-17)

Tennessee over Memphis by 10 (24-14)

California over Oregon State by 11 (31-20)

Nebraska over Kansas by 24 (38-14)

Utah over Boise State by 5 (35-30)

Rutgers over South Florida by 5 (21-16)

Missouri over Colorado by 9 (23-14)

1-AA Games Around the State

For the 1-AA schools in the state of Virginia, I was 6-0 in my predictions
for last week which makes me 17-3 for the season. Here are the results from last

Game Prediction Result
Northeastern at James Madison JMU by 17 JMU 52, Northeastern 14
Bucknell at Richmond Richmond by 27 Richmond 48, Bucknell 21
VMI at William & Mary William & Mary by 29 W&M 38, VMI 6
Morgan State at Hampton Hampton by 27 Hampton 26, Morgan St. 7
Norfolk State at Bethune-Cookman BCC by 21 BCC 22, Norfolk State 21
Liberty at Savannah State Liberty by 16 Liberty 28, Savannah St. 0

The best 1-AA game in-state this week will have William & Mary hosting
Hofstra in a key Atlantic 10 contest. Also, Northeastern continues their tour of
Virginia with a visit to Richmond.

William & Mary over Hofstra by 4 (28-24)

Richmond over Northeastern by 18 (21-3)

James Madison over VMI by 39 (42-3)

Hampton over Delaware State by 9 (30-21)

Norfolk State over North Carolina A&T by 11 (21-10)

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

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