Virginia Tech (5-2, 3-1) at Pittsburgh (5-2, 2-1)
When: Thursday, October 27th 2016
Where: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
Time: 7:00 ET | TV: ESPN
The Virginia Tech Hokies and Pittsburgh Panthers battle Thursday night in an important game in the ACC Coastal division standings. Both the Hokies and Panthers, along with North Carolina, each have one loss in conference play with Virginia Tech controlling their own destiny because of their 34-3 win over the Tar Heels earlier this season. The Hokies are coming off an impressive 37-16 victory over Miami last weekend and have reappeared in the national rankings. Junior college transfer quarterback Jerod Evans, who supplanted Brendan Motley this season, leads the conference in passer efficiency (166.9) despite his team ranking 56th in the country in passing yards per game (238.3). Evans threw for 259 yards and two TDs against Miami and added another 98 yards and a score on the ground. The Hokies received a season-high 251 yards rushing against the Hurricanes, led by Travon McMillian’s 131, but Pittsburgh allows just 96.6 rush yards per game – best in the ACC. Linebackers Andrew Motuapuaka (team-high 59 tackles) and Tremaine Edmunds (54 tackles, team-high 11 tackles for loss), lead a Virginia Tech defense that ranks tied for 16th nationally in points allowed per game (17.9).
The Hokies shouldn’t get overconfident because they’ve lost four straight games at Pittsburgh despite being ranked and favored three times. Last season in Blacksburg, the Panthers sacked Motley seven times and held Virginia Tech to 100 total yards in a 17-13 victory. The Panthers have been off since October 15th when quarterback Nathan Peterman threw two TDs and James Conner added 90 yards and two rushing scores as Pittsburgh won its third straight game, 45-31 at Virginia. Peterman is ranked fourth in the ACC in passer efficiency (150.3, 11 TDs, 2 INT) and has been sacked a conference-low five times, but the Hokies got to Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya for eight sacks last week. Conner (531 yards, 9 total TDs) leads a rushing attack that ranks them second in the ACC at 239.1 yards per game. WR Jester Weah leads the team with 19 catches for 402 yards and four touchdowns. Defensive end Ejuan Price leads the nation with nine sacks and the Panthers share the conference lead with 25, but the Panthers have only three interceptions and rank 11th in the conference in total defense (395.4) and 13th in passer efficiency defense (144.4).
History is on the side of Pitt in this one as they seem to always beat a ranked Hokies team at home. I love the Panthers’ rushing attack and I think they’ll have success running against a very good Virginia Tech defense. Overall, I think these teams are pretty equal, so I’ll take the home underdog in this one.
Pick: Pittsburgh +3.5