Virginia Tech at Pittsburgh
When and Where: Saturday, Nov. 10, Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, Pa., 3:30 p.m. EST.
Pittsburgh looks to become bowl eligible for the 10th time in 11 years and strengthen its grip on the Coastal Division lead in the Atlantic Coast Conference on Saturday when its hosts Virginia Tech in a crucial intradivision affair.
The Panthers (5-4, 4-1 ACC Coastal), who had their run of bowl appearances end at nine last season after going 5-7, lead Virginia by one-half game atop the Coastal after knocking off the previously 23rd-ranked Cavaliers 23-13 on the road last weekend.
Virginia Tech (4-4, 3-2 Coastal), though, is lurking one game behind Pitt in third place. The Hokies, however, are trying to avoid a third consecutive defeat after losing 31-21 at home to then-No. 24 Boston College last weekend.
Hokies look for answers as bowl streak in jeopardy
Virginia Tech has the longest active bowl streak in the country at 25, but with a challenging close to the season that includes home games against Miami and archrival Virginia after this contest, plus a margin of error reduced by having a game against East Carolina canceled due to a hurricane, that run is in serious jeopardy.
“It’s definitely a big thing, because it shows how elite this program’s been for such a long time,” said sophomore tight end Dalton Keene to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “That was definitely something cool I thought about when I was coming in here.”
The Hokies run defense has been the primary reason for their recent struggles, giving up an average of 271.5 yards in losing three of the last four. While that number is skewed by the 465 Georgia Tech amassed running the option, Boston College churned out 219 as it outscored Virginia Tech 24-7 in the second half.
— BC Football (@BCFootball) November 4, 2018
One reason for the struggles is Virginia Tech’s defense has been ravaged by injuries. That list grew longer after the loss to BC as cornerback Bryce Watts may have suffered a season-ending forearm injury while leading tackler and inside linebacker Rayshard Ashby is questionable for this game.
Offensively, Ryan Willis threw for 281 yards and three touchdowns in the loss to Boston College and has a string of five consecutive games with multiple scoring tosses entering this game. With 1,539 yards, Willis is 181 shy of setting a new career high and already has set a personal best with 13 TD passes.
— Greg Brandt (@devywarehouse) November 3, 2018
Damon Hazelton has caught seven TD passes, scoring in every game but one while leading Virginia Tech with 37 receptions for 636 yards in his first season after transferring from Ball State.
Pitt shows versatility as defense shines against Hoos
After totaling 634 yards and 54 points in beating Duke, Pittsburgh’s defense stepped to the forefront against Virginia by allowing just 44 rushing yards and 249 overall for its first win against a ranked opponent in four tries this season.
— Pitt Football (@Pitt_FB) November 3, 2018
Offensively, Darrin Hall put Pitt’s offense on his shoulders and ran for a season-high 229 yards and three touchdowns. He rumbled 75 yards for a score with 9:40 to play 11 seconds after Virginia had pulled within 14-13.
Hall, though, is motivated for this game by last year’s 20-14 loss to the Hokies in Blacksburg in which he was stuffed on three tries from the one-yard line, getting tackled for a three-yard loss on 4th and goal with three seconds to play.
“It was really hard on me because I got the ball three out of the four plays,” Hall told the Virginian-Pilot as he recalled details of a game in which he had just four yards on 15 carries. “All we needed was a yard to tie the game and then go for the win. For me personally, I didn’t get my job done. I took that upon me and I worked hard and made sure I’m doing everything right so that doesn’t happen again.”
Panthers quarterback Kenny Pickett has yet to throw for 200 yards in any game this season and has just 1,217 yards and eight touchdowns on the season while completing 59.9 percent of his passes.
Qadree Ollison, who took a back seat to Hill and had just seven carries and 24 yards versus Virginia, has a team-best 819 yards while averaging 6.2 per carry. Pitt is getting 230.8 yards per game on the ground, good for 20th in the country.
- 6-1 ATS in its last seven games vs. ACC teams.
- 7-0 ATS in its last seven home games vs. Virginia Tech.
- 4-1 ATS in its last five games following an ATS win.
- The under is 15-6-1 in its last 22 games.
- The under is 3-1-1 in its last five home games.
- The under is 9-4 in its last 13 games vs. ACC teams.
Virginia Tech is:
- 1-5 ATS in its last six games following a straight up loss.
- 1-10 ATS in its last 11 games vs. Pittsburgh.
- 0-5 ATS in its last five games after allowing more than 200 rushing yards in its previous game.
- The under is 6-1 in its last seven games as an underdog.
- The under is 4-0 in its last four games as a road underdog.
- The under is 9-2 in its last 11 games vs. above-.500 teams.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Given Virginia Tech’s inability to stop the run over the past month coupled with Pittsburgh’s 1-2 backfield punch of Hill and Ollison, it is hard to see a way where the short-handed Hokies can pull this out if they’re going to be on their heels defensively.
Willis will do his best to keep this close, but this game looks like will follow the pattern of both teams’ previous game in which it is close until a key fourth-quarter score creates separation too much for Virginia Tech to overcome.
Prediction: Pick: Pitt -3
Full-Game Total Pick
This is a tricky pick with Pitt going over this total in three of its last five games, and Virginia Tech doing likewise. Head-to-head, though, the teams have cleared 51.5 points just once in the last five meetings, a 39-36 Virginia Tech victory in its last visit to Pittsburgh.
In the other four games, the teams failed to clear 37 points. The total is likely going to fall somewhere closer to the number established for this game and likely a razor-thin margin on either side.
Prediction: Pick: UNDER 53.5 points
Full-Game Prop Bet
The Hokies have scored more than 20 points just once in their six games against Pittsburgh since the Panthers joined the ACC in 2012, their 39-36 road victory in 2016. It seems like Virginia Tech is a tired team that might not be able to keep up with the Panthers in this contest.
Prediction: Pick: Virginia Tech UNDER 25.5 points
Half-Time Side Pick
Most of Virginia Tech’s struggles have come in the second half of games. In the first half against FBS teams, the Hokies are a net plus-21 and have not trailed by more than seven points in any contest. They also have led at halftime in the last two meetings between the teams. This is a hunch pick, with the more aggressive play of the money line as opposed to getting two points at -110.
Prediction: Pick: Virginia Tech +150
Half-Time Total Bet
The teams have scored 24 or fewer points in all but one of their six meetings since Pitt joined the ACC. Virginia Tech has had three of its four road games total 24 or fewer points, and while Pitt has been over in the first half of its last two home games, the Hokies have been strong enough in the opening two quarters to keep it close.
Prediction: Pick: UNDER 27.5 points
Half-Time Prop Prediction
The extra half-point makes the difference here and also serves as a good counter bet against taking Virginia Tech on the money line in the first half.
Prediction: Pick: Pitt UNDER 14.5 points