A disastrous month for Virginia Tech football continued last week against No. 9 Miami, with Justin Fuente and Co. falling 25-24 against the Canes despite holding 11-point leads in both the first and second half. It was a far quieter week for the Halfwits crew, with Joey and The Fifth Fuller each cruising to a respectable 4-3 showing courtesy of Manny Diaz and savant-like uniform predictions.
Joey's Record Last Week (& Season Total): 4-3 (30-26-1)
The Fifth Fuller's Record Last Week (& Season Total): 4-3 (25-30-1)
Without further ado, on to the lines!
True / False: Virginia Tech quarterbacks out-rush Virginia Tech running backs
Joey: The running back room took this in a squeaker last week, albeit aided by a bevy of sacks (6, to be exact) that cut Hendon Hooker's rushing yards from 112 all the way down to 59. And with Pitt's Power-5 leading sack defense on deck, it promises to be another tough week for Hooker's run game. I'll take the running backs here, counting on a healthier Khalil Herbert, less Raheem Blackshear (it's amazing how poorly Corny has used him, isn't it?), and more reps for newly discovered
Marshawn Lynch Jalen Holston.
The Fifth Fuller: Personally, I think sacks counting against a quarterback's rushing total instead of his passing is stupid, a view heavily influenced by losing this bet last week. Like Joey said, this is, straight up, a bet on the health of Herbert. No one has apparently figured out how to use Blackshear effectively, befuddling a top tier offensive coaching staff. Holston, who looks like the second coming of Khalil Herbert, has obviously not done enough to earn the trust of that same coaching staff. So we're either counting on Herbert being back to his devastating self or Hooker is getting pummeled 20 times a game again. For Hooker's sake, I'm going with Herbert being BAK and the running backs taking it.
Most Receiving Yards: Tre Turner or the Field
Joey: Tre Turner delivered another strong outing against the Canes, taking the banner of leading receiver for the fourth straight week (which admittedly isn't the most impressive title for a Tech passing attack that closely resembled a high school wing-T offense down two scores late that suddenly has to throw the ball).
Competition notwithstanding, given Turner's recent dominance, you'll notice this line has changed: it's now Tre vs. literally everyone. And despite the temptation that taking the field brings (what if CHANGA HODGE
travels to Pittsburgh breaks out?!?), I'm sticking with Tre. As the old folk say, 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'.
The Fifth Fuller: Oh, so now we're talking receiving YARDS? So my old stand by with Tayvion Robinson racking up the receptions doesn't fit, because as dependable as he is on catches, he is also dependable at clocking in at 40-50 yards receiving, no matter what. Since Hooker took over behind center, excepting the BC game, Turner has led the team in receiving yards every week. I ain't betting against that, Turner all day.
Over / Under: 1.5 Times Pat Narduzzi Loses His Mind About Pass Interference Calls
Joey: OK, so maybe this line was simply an excuse to resurface Billdozer's Pat Narduzzi masterpiece. (It was, and here it is.)
But if watching Sad Pat's Panthers over the years has taught me anything, it's that this man lives for complaining about pass interference calls to an exceedingly unhealthy degree.
For comparison's sake, let's say Frank Beamer lived for special teams. Maybe Paul Chryst lives for fullback touchdowns. Well, Pat Narduzzi lives for being wrong about his secondary's affinity for grabbing onto receivers (which, upon further review, might be related to the fact that he unapologetically puts them on islands for 60 minutes straight, week after week).
The Fifth Fuller: This is tough, because Narduzzi has the opportunity to rack it up on both sides of the ball, considering he gets equally vehement about his receivers getting molested. ALLEGEDLY. And I think if this was more generic, just the Duzz working refs about everything, from holding calls, false starts, stopping/restarting the game clock in a timely fashion, to coin flips, I'd definitely bet on the over. Although this is a very prevalent genre of the Duzz losing his shit, it's too niche for me. Under.
Over / Under: 250 passing yards for Kenny Pickett
Joey: What's the first thing you think of when someone says 'Kenny Pickett'?
For me, it's the fact that Pitt made him run to the sideline between EVERY play last year to get the next play call (apparently the Narduzzi brain trust has never heard of helmet mics, sideline signals, or 21st century technology in general).
But based on breaking news out of the Steel City, maybe it should be...NFL Draft Prospect Kenny Pickett?
As an aside, I love the half-hearted denial of 'deciding after the season'. Go (try to) get paid, Kenny.
So yeah, Pickett's had a fairly decent 2020 campaign, surpassing the 250 yard passing mark in two of his last 3 conference matchups (Boston College and NC State). Throw in a Pitt rushing attack that has all but given up and a Tech defense that remains a work in progress (thankfully there's a stellar #HardHatMentality), and I'll stick with the over.
The Fifth Fuller: Pitt is a completely one-dimensional offense. Not historically without precedent, but WHICH dimension is weird; I don't feel like they've been a pass first offense since Dan Marino was around. That being said, the Hokie defense seems to be a cure for whatever ails you. Tech's only two opponents who did not go over or come close to the 250 mark are Wake, who ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ and Liberty, who did everything but shoot the clock in the middle of 5th Avenue to kill it. One question for me is if Pickett is definitely going to play and if he's going to have enough weapons around to execute. The other question is whether Dorian Strong and Jermaine Waller are going to be lining up at CB, because if not, I don't have much confidence that the Hokies could keep Army from hitting 250 yards, if the Black Knights put their minds to it. Over.
Dealer's Choice: Name Tech's Uniform Combo
Joey: I must admit, The Fifth Fuller and I seem to have the pulse on Virginia Tech uniforms of late. And Tech, losers of 3 out of 4, knows they have to keep it simple this week. Taking a quick scan through the uni rolodex, there's been only one winning combo on the road — the maroon-white-maroon look the Hokies donned in both Durham and Louisville. They'll stick with what works this week, which means maroon-white-maroon hits the trifecta.
The Fifth Fuller: Well, Joey, I'd counter that the simple stuff ain't working. The snazzy fits ain't working either, but I have trouble imagining that Fuente and staff are sitting down looking at uniform statistics to figure out that THIS jersey color and THAT pant color with THIS SPECIFIC DESIGN on the helmet is what's gonna win this ballgame. I have no idea how the uniform combo decision is made, but I WILL say that going back to 2012, the Hokies have donned all whites for 3 of their 4 trips to the Ketchup Palace. Since the program now seems to be big believers in honoring their history, I expect to see the same, Maroon helmets, white jerseys, white pants. Just nobody mention the Hokies have only won once since 2012 by the Three Rivers, which was 2016, the one year they DIDN'T wear that combo.
Disclaimer: This column was written on Wednesday evening, prior to the official uniform release on social media (obviously).
The Joey Coogan Memorial "Navy Hits the Over" Lock of the Week
Joey: I strayed away from the Big 12 overs last week, and Feleipe Franks and Arkansas delivered with....a 28-point loss to Florida. So we're getting back to basics this week, and a 59.5 point total in Bedlam is downright disrespectful. While Oklahoma State's defense is improved (and there was plenty of room for improvement), Lincoln Riley falls out of bed and puts up 40 nearly every Saturday. That means Mike Gundy only needs to contribute 20 to the cause, which seems more than doable for a rivalry that has averaged nearly 76 points per game over the last decade. Over.
The Fifth Fuller: As a disclaimer, I wrote a whole thing on betting the over in Bedlam before realizing that Joey already wrote it. I would also like to take a moment to point out that Clemson is favored by THIRTY-FIVE POINTS against Florida State. FLORIDA STATE! Players who won a National Championship at FSU are still in the NFL! That wasn't that long ago! THIRTY-FIVE POINTS?!
They didn't come through for me last week, but Northwestern appears to be legit, and has a history of keeping it close, even against vastly superior Wisconsin squads. Yes, they are getting love with a #19 ranking, but nobody will give them credit because they haven't beaten anyone good yet. And they may not beat Wisconsin, but they'll cover a 7-point spread because they will OUTTHINK the Badgers, who may or may not show up hungover, and keep it close enough to potentially eek it out in the end. Bet on the nerds this week.
Spread: Virginia Tech -3.5
Joey: I suppose the column's subtitle gave it away, but I love Pitt here. I think the Hokies may bounce back and sneak away with a victory, but with an anemic Tech passing attack and a stout Pitt defense, this game figures to be low-scoring. And in a low-scoring affair where the coach matching wits with noted game manager Justin Fuente is getting points, you take the points.
The Fifth Fuller: If this was the first half line, I'd be tempted. The Hokies have been able to put points on the board, and they've looked better defensively over the last couple of games. But if you factor in the fourth quarter, this is betting that whatever drugs the coaching staff have been taking at halftime don't kick in at the end again. I don't know if they'll be able to smuggle in their supply to Pennsylvania, but I just can't count on the Hokies to not botch the ending again. If we knew that Herbert was 100%, if we knew that Mitchell would be playing, if we knew how the secondary was going to look, I'd feel better that the players could overcome the coaching limitations. But we don't, so I'm taking Pitt to cover.
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.