Well, last week was pretty lame, huh?
I won't wax poetic about forgetting the past, turning the page, and focusing on going 1-0. But every goal anyone could have for this team is still attainable, it just makes games against the lesser teams in the ACC even more important.
And speaking of lesser teams in the conference, Boston College! The Fighting Dudes are 2-3, coming off a 28-8 slog fest against Central Michigan, and are looking to get back to a bowl game for the first time since-
BC went to a bowl game last year? With Scot Loeffler, Patrick Towels, and a 2-6 ACC record? And somehow Steve Addazio is still on the hot seat? That guy's doing the Lord's work, just by showing up every day to a half-empty stadium filled with the world's most obnoxious accents. Give that man a lifetime contract.
Anyway, enough Addazio hot takes. Let's talk fake gambling.
Over/Under 4.5 times you'll have to remind yourself that this is not a noon kickoff at Chestnut Hill
Brian: So far over. I've already had to do it at least a dozen times this week. I've said over and over again that a noon kickoff in Alumni Stadium is the ultimate home field advantage. Fans don't show up on time (or at all), and the opposing team is lulled into a false sense of sleepiness and security for at least a half. Add to the fact that the last four ventures up to Massachusetts have kicked at either noon or 12:30, making it even harder to remember that they're starting at seven on Saturday.
But as much as I hate on the early afternoons against the Eagles, I may prefer it to a night game. A matchup under the lights brings out the crazy in fans, even if comatose is their standard setting. And also, Tech doesn't have a great track record in Chestnut Hill at night. In 2008 the Hokies were at the height of their offensive ineptitude, failed to capitalize on five Eagle turnovers, and lost 28-23.
They played another prime time game up north in 2006. It went even worse.
Pierson: Way over. This will be the second time the Hokies have played in Chestnut Hill since my wife and I moved to New England. Two years ago, the Hokies won a nooner behind a career high 33 carries from Travon McMillian. Having previously only watched Tech games at Alumni Stadium on television, I wasn't sure what to expect from the gameday experience. Needless to say, I was...underwhelmed. Tailgating is non-existent; parking in Chestnut Hill is essentially forbidden; I barely noticed the BC team entrance; the "Superfans" rolled in 8 minutes into the first quarter and 80% had left by halftime; and the Tech faithful was (unsurprisingly) the loudest group all afternoon.
During the Eagles' ACC heyday in the late 2000's, the BC crowd was surprisingly rowdy during night games. After you've finished choking on your morning coffee, allow me to surprise you with a depressing factoid: Tech is 3-3 in their last six trips to the Chestnut Hill (though they have won 3 out of the last 4 meetings). There was a time where the Hokies struggled with this long road trip.
When we purchased our tickets and coordinated with my mother to babysit our son, I absolutely jinxed the kickoff time by telling her something along the lines of, "BC sucks...No one wants to watch them on TV...Definitely going to be a Noon kickoff on RSN...We'll be home to put Wesley to bed." It's all my fault.
Which number is greater: BC linebacker Ty Schwab total tackles, or Coleman Fox carries?
Brian: Let's just work off the assumption that Schwab gets 10 tackles. He's the closest thing they have to a run stopping linebacker, and put up better numbers against spread teams like Notre Dame and Clemson.
This is really just a reason to talk about Fox. Sure, he's been relatively impressive in three straight fourth quarters. But this can't last, right? He had eight carries in the blowout win over ECU, taking handoffs from A.J. Bush and Jack Click. He saw 11 attempts vs ODU, but how much of that was his doing, and how much of it was Travon McMillian's injury throwing the rotation out of whack?
And he took over against Clemson with the Hokies down 31-10, but may not have seen the field if Steven Peoples hadn't been injured. So even though his playing time has increased, I'll still assume Fox only sees minutes in garbage time. So this line depends on whether or not you think the game will be a blowout. I think it may be a little less comfortable than Tech would want it to be, so I'll take Schwab/tackles over Fox/carries.
Pierson: This is a solid line, right here. Schwab is averaging 8 tackles per game, including 10.5 per against Notre Dame and Clemson. Fox is averaging 6 carries per game, with 8 totes against ECU and 11 in the easy win over ODU. Playing in a defensive system that relies on a high-volume tackler at linebacker, Schwab is sure to fill up the stat sheet one way or another. Fox, on the other hand, is the wildcard here.
The Tech fanbase is clamoring about an increased role for the diminutive tailback from Salem. One major question is how long do McMillian and Deshawn McClease stay in Justin Fuente's doghouse after a costly fumble and a critical missed block? I suppose a second is whether or not you believe the Hokies will blow the doors off the Eagles (more on that later).
This feels like trying to fill a lineup spot in fantasy football during a major bye week. Do you give a guy like Wendell Smallwood a shot at the flex position because he shined when opportunity came knocking? Or do you trust your gut and go with a known commodity? I think this one could be surprisingly close, but I'll go with Schwab.
Over/Under 3.5 total touchdowns by Josh Jackson
Brian: Here's the thing: BC has a really good pass defense. They only give up 154 passing yards a game on 51% completions, and have seven interceptions to only three touchdowns allowed. They're currently top-12 in the country in all of those categories.
But here's the other thing: BC hasn't played a good quarterback to date. Brandon Wimbush hasn't thrown for more than 211 yards for Notre Dame this year, John Wolford is more of a caretaker than anything else for Wake Forest, and Kelly Bryant has been fine. Not great, but fine. (No disrespect to the guys at Northern Illinois and Central Michigan, but they play for Northern Illinois and Central Michigan.)
Jackson will be the best thrower of the football (if not all-around QB) the Eagles have played to date, which makes their numbers a little less daunting. I'll still go under, because four total scores would be a Jerod Evans-esq performance, but it wouldn't shock me at all to see a massive bounce-back game for the freshman.
Pierson: Jackson has only topped this figure once in 5 games — a five touchdown performance against East Carolina. On the season the BC defense has surrendered a paltry 3 scores through the air (including a big fat bagel in their last three contests); however, they've been particularly susceptible against the run, giving up 15 rushing touchdowns. Notre Dame's Brandon Wimbush scored four times on the ground (behind 207 rushing yards), but all other opposing quarterbacks have been held to two or less total touchdowns.
Would I be shocked to see Jackson top this line? Absolutely not. But unless Jackson goes HAM on the ground, I think we see too much parity from the Hokies for Jackson to score four or more times.
Over/Under Virginia Tech's longest scoring play: 39.5 yards
Brian: This is all about how many explosive opportunities Jackson and the rest of the offense can create. When everything's rolling, the unit can string together nice drives that include multiple 15-20 yard plays, but the longer ones are much more difficult to come by.
As much of a dumpster fire as last weekend was, it was good to see guys like Sean Savoy, C.J. Carroll, and Henri Murphy get chunk plays. Their ability to stretch the field will only help Cam Phillips exploit his matchups even more. Conventional wisdom says go under here, but I'll take the over. One of these receivers not named Cam feels due for a long score, and it'll only take one good play action pass to put them in the position to chuck it deep.
Pierson: As uncharacteristically poor as the Boston College defense has been this season, they have only surrendered two scoring plays of 40 yards or more. The Hokies have managed four scores of 40-plus yards. The Eagles run defense has been driving the Struggle Bus all the way to Struggleville this season, so conventional wisdom says that the Hokies are more likely to do their damage on the ground Saturday night.
With the exception of Jackson's long scamper against WVU and Greg Stroman's punt return against Delaware, most of the big plays this season have come through the air. My logic is hardly ironclad, but this is one of those lines where you're essentially guessing, so what's the point? I'll take the under.
Yes/No: Does Harold Landry get at least one sack?
Brian: Harold Landry is really good. He had an amazing junior season (16.5 sacks), is a big time prospect right now, and left an impression on Tech left tackle Yosh Nijman.
Unfortunately for Landry, he's experiencing something many players do after coming off a breakout year: a dip in production. He's getting more attention, more double teams, and has only picked up two sacks in 2017 so far. I say he gets one, only because I think BC will try to follow the Clemson game plan to confuse the Hokie offensive line and bring a little more pressure. Even if Nijman dominates the matchup, it only takes one mistake to surrender a sack.
Pierson: Currently pegged as a Top-15 draft pick by most scouting services, Landry is a disruptive force on the BC defensive line. On the year, Landry is averaging 5 tackles per game, but has only managed 2 sacks. Virginia Tech has done a solid job of keeping Josh Jackson upright this season, having only given up 6 sacks through five games. On a BC defense lacking the usual collection of tackling machines, it should be easier for Vance Vice's group to make sure Landry is contained. I'm a "no" on this one.
First half spread: Virginia Tech -14
Brian: I really have no idea how this thing will play out on Saturday night. The Hokies have five games under their belt, and have struggled to score in the first half of every one of them. There's a chance Jackson and company come out firing on all cylinders after an embarrassing showing against the Tigers on national TV. There's also the much more likely chance that they'll start sluggish, possibly trail for a bit, and take a quarter to get things going. Since history says bet on the latter possibility, I'd take BC +14 through the first 30 minutes.
Pierson: Let's face it: Slow starts are sort of this team's 'thing'. We keep thinking they will eventually outgrow this developmental stage, yet here we are five games into the season and the Tech offense has — outside of defense-optional ECU — been anything but electric in the first half.
Sure, the Boston College defense is a shell its former self, but they still have talented players that could make for a long New England night. Give me BC +14 all day.
Matchup Over/Under: 48
Brian: Here's a very surprising fact that I'm sure none of you knew or had even considered before: the Scot Loeffler-run BC offense is not good. They're 117th in FBS with 318 yards a game. They're 104th in FBS with 795 total passing yards for the season (159 per game), and average just 12 points against power five opponents. Again, I know this is shocking, but Loeffler's offense isn't going to score much.
Let's be gracious and say the Eagles score 13 points. Are we confident that the Hokies will put up five touchdowns on the road against an ACC opponent? I'm not. Give me the under.
Pierson: The Boston College offense is averaging 17.6 points per game, good for 118th out of 130 programs. That's, um, not great Bob. They're averaging 19.3 points per game and have scored 7 out of their 10 touchdowns at home, so that's not so bad, right? Oh, that's still 118th in the nation? Okay...
SCOT LOEFFLER, EVERYBODY!!!
Let's say the Eagles hit their season average (they won't), which means the Hokies will need to score at least 31 points to top this line (they might). Teams have put up serious points against BC on the ground, and despite all of the big plays through the air, Tech ranks 47th in the country in rushing yards per game (192.6) and 50th in rushing touchdowns (9).
Kudos to Vegas, I think this is a pretty good line. As much as I would love to ride a Virginia Tech offense that has averaged 40 points per game against teams not named Clemson, I think BC's offense ultimately dictates this outcome. The sample size is dire. I'll take the under.
Spread: Virginia Tech (-16.5)
Brian: I can't get a feel for games like this under Fuente. With Frank Beamer at the helm, the Hokies would beat the bad teams. It wouldn't always be pretty, but they'd cover with an ugly 19-0 win and send everyone back to Blacksburg happy.
Last year, the Hokies showed up DOA against three different inferior ACC schools. They just scraped by Duke in Durham, lost to Georgia Tech at home, and looked awful against Syracuse in the Carrier Dome.
I know BC is bad. Like, really damn bad. And I know they run an offensive system specifically designed to be stopped by Bud Foster. And I know the Hokies will be thirsty for success after flatlining post-GameDay. But is it weird that I don't love them this weekend? As a person who dabbles with a few wagers every Saturday, this game is a big stay away for me. I need to see the Hokies have offensive success in the first half, and prove that Clemson didn't show something other defensive coordinators can expose.
But I'll still take the Hokies -16.5—BC really is that bad—but I don't feel great about it.
Pierson: Last season, the Hokies absolutely spanked the Eagles 49-0 in Blacksburg. The year before, they won by a rather unconvincing margin (26-10) in Chestnut Hill during the Frank Beamer farewell tour. Behind Don Brown's last great BC defense before he packed his bags for Ann Arbor, the Eagles offense struggled with freshman quarterback John Fadule (who is currently buried on a predictably average depth chart) under center. Fadule put up a respectable stat line thanks to some nifty runs when the pocket broke down. But I was at the game that day, and let me tell you...that dude can't throw.
Anyways, that was a really bad Boston College offense. It was part of a BC squad that went 3-9 on the year and winless in the ACC despite having the fourth best scoring defense in the country. The Hokies offense wasn't exactly storming through the conference that season, but they still managed to score the second most points on that Eagles defense. A Scot Loeffler offense, no less.
Where am I going with this? The 2017 BC defense is far worse than that 2015 version, and I would argue this year's Tech offense is far better than their counterpart two years ago. The long trip to Boston from Blacksburg shouldn't be overlooked, but in the end the gap between these two teams is probably closer to Tech's 49-point win last season than the 16-point victory in 2015. I'll take the Hokies -16.5.
Disclaimer: Some of these are real betting lines, but many of them are fake and none of this is real advice that should be taken seriously.