Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#119 Virginia Tech vs.
#120 West Virginia
Saturday, September 18, 2021 at 12:00pm EDT
Written by Eric P.

The Virginia Tech Hokies visit the West Virginia Mountaineers for a crucial non-conference tilt on Saturday afternoon from Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium. Virginia Tech enters ranked 2-0 and has moved up to 15th in the AP Poll. West Virginia on the other hand is sitting at 1-1 but a non-conference win over an ACC foe would do wonders to help momentum for the rest of the season. Something will have to give on Saturday, as the Mountaineers have one of the most prolific offenses in the country, while the Hokies can say the same about their defense. A road win for Virginia tech will surely keep them rising in the polls, while a home win for West Virginia might be just what the doctor ordered in a make or break year for the West Virginia staff. Regardless, Saturday's game promises to be one of the most exciting on the college football slate.

Hokies Put Undefeated Record On The Line

Virginia Tech pulled off one of the biggest surprises of the college football opening week after beating UNC in the home opener and didn't let down in week two. At home, they were able t take down Middle Tennessee, 35-14, and have slowly started to gain some momentum on a national scale. Justin Fuente has things moving in the right direction finally in Blacksburg and the foundation of what looks like one of the nation's best defenses, has led the way. The Hokies only went 5-6 overall last season and significantly underachieved, but it appears that the inconsistencies that plagued this team last year have slowly been fixed. The question remains on how this team will do when being tasked with going on the road. The Lane Stadium crowd was in full effect in both of their first two games and going on the road will present a unique set of challenges that can make or break this Virginia Tech team early on.

Braxton Burmeister leads the way at quarterback, having started both of the first two games. The passing game is far from elite for the Hokies, with Burmeister only averaging 155.5 passing yards per game, tossing two touchdowns and one interception. The rushing attack is where this team thrives though, averaging 175.5 yards per game on the ground. It has been backfield by a committee for the Hokies in the early going, with Burmeister leading the way and a trio of other backs averaging between 35 and 40 yards per game. Virginia Tech did bring back seven starters from last year but will need to prove that their line is up for the challenge that West Virginia can present. In the end, the Hokies defense will need to be the star of the show but if the offense can muster up some significant success running the ball and keeping West Virginia off the field, they'll have a good shot at pulling off another upset.

The defense enters Saturday ranked 18th in points allowed per game and first in first-quarter scoring allowed per game, having yet to allow a point in the opening quarter. That has allowed the Hokies to jump out to big leads and then ramp up the pressure on the opposition to have o play from behind. Amare Barno has lived up to expectations early as a pass rusher after gathering 6.5 sacks last season. Nasir Peoples has been a tackling force as well, leading the way with 17 tackles through two games. The key for Virginia tech will be winning the turnover battle. With four interceptions as a team through the first two games, takeaways will be key yet again going on the road. Jermaine Waller (two interceptions), has already proven himself as a force at DB and will need to be stout in coverage if the Hokies want to take down the Mountaineers.

Mountaineers Eyeing Home Advantage

Unlike Virginia Tech, West Virginia failed in their opener in a test on the road against Maryland. They battled back in week two to take down LIU, 66-0, but that did little to give any indication on who the Mountaineers are this season. Coming off a 6-4 season that saw a heavy reliance on defense, the offense has already stepped up in a big way to start off this season, but they are yet to see anything like the product that Virginia Tech will put out onto the field. Against Maryland, turnovers plagued the Mountaineers. They has two interceptions and lost two fumbles, losing the turnover battle 4-0. If that happens again on Saturday, they won't be able to see enough of the ball against Virginia Tech to get any sort of momentum going. Add in home field advantage though for the Mountaineers and it's going to be a shock to Virginia Tech's system to take the field in such a hostile environment.

Jarret Doege is the leader of the offense at quarterback, throwing for 268 yards per game, with four touchdowns and two interceptions. The rushing attack is the larger concern though, only going for 123 yards per game, ranking 99th in the country, but only gaining 48 as a team against Maryland. Garrett Greene came on against LIU and added 98 yards on the ground at quarterback, but Leddie Brown will be the focal point on Saturday after going for 73 yards and two touchdowns on the ground and another 43 yards and a touchdown through the air, against Maryland. The wide receiver room is also one of the deepest in the league but will still have their work cut out for them against Virginia Tech's vaunted secondary.

The defense carried West Virginia last season to the tune of fourth nationally in yards and points allowed per game and had one of the nation's best pass defenses. They did lose a few key contributors to the transfer portal but still, have Akheem Mesidor leading the way. Mesidor leads the way with a sack and 2.5 tackles for loss and will be one to keep an eye out for on Saturday. Josh Chandler-Semedo leads the team with 15 tackles through the first two games. Stopping Virginia Tech's rushing attack will be the top priority for the Mountaineers as they have the secondary to win battles in the air. If they can stop West Virginia on the ground and control the clock, they'll have a good chance at grabbing a home win.

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Virginia Tech looked sharp through their first two games but going on the road is going to present some challenges. Mountaineer Field is never easy to play at in general but add in that it's been almost two years since Virginia Tech played a true road game in a non-COVID environment, and it has the makings to a shocking performance for the nation's 15th ranked team. Keeping pace with West Virginia will be tough for a Virginia Tech offense that will have a focus on running the ball first and foremost. If the Mountaineers are able to stop the ground game, Virginia Tech just doesn't have the ability to get into a passing affair on the road on Saturday. Turnovers will be key and don't expect Doege to be as careless with the football as he was in the Maryland game, taking away one advantage that Virginia Tech has had all season. While everyone expects West Virginia's air raid offense to be the star of the show, their defense has been the lightning rod of the program over the last few seasons and will leave Virginia Tech in for a shock when they take the field on Saturday afternoon. Virginia Tech has only covered the spread once in their last seven road games and until they prove that they can be trusted on the road, you have to go with West Virginia to get it done at home, where they are unbeaten against the spread in their last seven home games.

Prediction: West Virginia (-3)

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West Virginia is known for their prolific offense over the years but these two teams come in waging a war on the defensive side for both. Virginia Tech loves to force turnovers, having forced four in the first two games, while keeping it on the ground and grinding out results. For West Virginia, the passing attack is still there in theory, but against Maryland, they struggled to put up big numbers. Additionally, according to covers.com, for Virginia Tech, the under is 4-0 on their last four games overall and is 5-1 in their last six games after allowing fewer than 20 points in their previous game. For West Virginia, the under is 8-2 in their last ten games after accumulating more than 280 yards passing in their previous game and is 4-1 in their last five games after allowing fewer than 20 points in their previous game. Lastly, in meetings between the two teams, the under is 4-1-1 in the last six meetings overall.

Prediction: Under 50.5
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Written By Eric Ploch , "Eric P."

Eric grew up surrounded by sports, whether it was spending the weekend catching games in person or on tv, or heading out to the fields to play whatever sport was in season. What started as a hobby, soon became a passion, as he became the sports editor of his high school newspaper, then wrote for his university newspaper during his undergrad years. After obtaining a degree in Sports Operations and Promotions, and spending 8 years deeply immersed in the sports world, Eric decided to take his love for analytics and predictions, and his experience, to online sports fans everywhere. James is now an integral part of our team here at StatSalt and has also been a very successful sports bettor over the years. Be sure and follow him daily.