After four seasons of enduring an inconsistent and scarcely productive rushing attack from Justin Fuente and Co, Hokie Nation was treated to three hours of man football on Saturday evening. With running backs prancing untouched into the second-level and offensive linemen serving up pancakes for the table, Virginia Tech cruised to a convincing 45-24 victory over a physically overmatched NC State team.
And as any good Hokie knows, Tech has a long and proven track record of following up dominant, season-propelling victories with reliably strong performances, so this weekend's trip to Durham promises to be a largely uneventful affair. No, did I get that wrong? Something about East Carolina? Old Domin...
Screw it, on to the lines!
Over / Under: 1.5 80 yard rushers for the Hokies
Joey: Despite the 314 yard ground-and-pound Virginia Tech delivered on Saturday evening, only one Hokie eclipsed 80 yards (Khalil Herbert, 104), with
Vanilla Vick Braxton Burmeister a somewhat distant second at 67. That said, enough changes this week — Hendon Hooker's potential return and Raheem Blackshear getting to practice seem most beneficial — that I think the service academy-esque rushing attack powers on for a second straight week. Give me Herbert, Blackshear, and maybe even a quarterback for 80+. Over.
The Fifth Fuller: Thanks for bringing up ECU, Joey, I'd just gotten my right eye to stop twitching. So the age old question after a first game blow out was...are the Hokies that good or is NC State that bad? While I think it's a mix of both, Duke has actually had somewhat of a good rushing defense, statistically. While both Notre Dame and LOLUVA both averaged over 4 yards per carry, neither eclipsed 200 yards on the ground, and I think the three headed Hooker/QP4/Burmeister monster is going to have to air it out some to keep the Dookies honest. Plus, I sort of get the feeling when Hooker's back that Fuente is going to be playing Three Card Monte with his quarterbacks, which means no one is going to rack up yards, through the air or on the ground. I'm going under.
Over / Under: 15 Players and Full-Time Coaches on the Unavailability Report
Joey: Feel free to tell me I'm alone here, but I clicked on Virginia Tech Football's official Unavailability Report tweet at least 10 times on Saturday night waiting for the rest of the image to load.
I mean, they couldn't have just tweeted out a 3 line screencap with no actual information about who was sidelined (or why)? I legitimately even opened up my laptop because I thought my phone was broken. Turns out, my phone is fine, and Pete Moris is leaning into the Bill Belichick persona even more in 2020.
Communication style aside, this feels like an easy bet. The crumbs of information fans have managed to collect seem to suggest Justin Hamilton remains out for another week, and I imagine a decent portion of the list is driven by non-COVID-19 related injuries. I'll go with the over here, thinking most injuries remain unchanged week-over-week with only a handful of guys trickling back in after completing COVID-19 protocols.
The Fifth Fuller: So we know nothing about the state of the team from week 1, week 2 all we know is "BAD", and in week three we learned that the Hokies can still play a game even with 23 players out. All that means is the situation in week 2 was even WORSE. The one consistent theme is that I spend the entire week knowing less about the state of the team than what's in my wife's head. That is an impressive bar to clear (if you had "Let's rip out a fireplace and a load bearing wall and completely renovate the kitchen we renovated less than ten years ago" on last night's bingo card, hats off to you).
As Joey said, the information coming out of the Athletic Department is abysmal, so to emphasize the point at the bottom, no one should risk any amount of money on predicting anything related to COVID-19 (setting aside the moral issue of gambling on it and general 2020 guidance that you should always expect things to get worse). That being said, if you held a gun to my head and forced me to pick, I'm going over.
Most Receptions: Tre Turner, James Mitchell, Tayvion Robinson, or Raheem Blackshear
Joey: Tayvion Robinson was the surprise winner here last week, which means the 757 native has earned a highly-coveted position on the ballot for Week 2. Recognizing this is a complete and total crapshoot, I'll roll with Big Play Tre for the second time, hoping that after a fairly quiet week receiving-wise Brad Cornelsen will scheme up ways to get his star wideout more involved from the outset.
The Fifth Fuller: I am really bad at predicting this one! Who had the most receptions last week? Tayvion Robinson! Here's a tougher one...who had the most receptions against Duke last season? Tayvion Robinson! I'm sure Joel would agree with me here, that is clearly enough data to establish a trend line and we can reasonably assume that Tayvion Robinson will be the Hokies' leading receiver until the end of history. Don't stop me, I'm on a roll.
Over / Under: 2.5 Turnovers Forced by Virginia Tech Defense
Joey: Duke's offense sucks. I've watched decently long stretches of the Notre Dame and UVA games, and their Pistol-centric attack has the strange dynamic of looking innovative, smart, and sometimes even dangerous until you remember it's Duke and Chase Brice throws 4 picks in 20 minutes of gametime against Virginia. So yeah, I'll take the over here, with Tech rattling off a strip sack and a pick in the first half to get the ball rolling.
The Fifth Fuller: Duke's offense REALLY sucks. To the point where I pity Joey for enduring more than the high(low?)lights of those games. As a bit of context, do you know the last time the Hokies forced more than 2 turnovers against Duke? 2014! For whatever reason, the randomness of the pointy bouncing ball has not favored Tech against the Devils, and I don't see any reason to expect things are going to change. Plus, they couldn't give the ball away to the Hoos fast enough last week and I'll say something about reverting to the mean to sound intelligent. You should nod thoughtfully at this point and say something like "It's gonna even out over the course of the season" so you also appear intelligent.
Over / Under: 0.5 Mentions of David Cutcliffe Coaching Peyton Manning
Joey: This was an easy over 5 years ago (honestly, the real question would have been 'Will ESPN bring a Manning to the booth?'), but it's more interesting these days as Father Time finally caught up to Peyton and Eli. Plus, it's hard to brag about an offensive mastermind when he's seven days removed from getting his lunch money stolen by Bronco Mendenhall to the tune of SEVEN turnovers.
I'll go under in what may be the first-ever Cutcliffe coached outing where not a single Manning is mentioned. And no, Nationwide commercials don't count.
The Fifth Fuller: All I ever hear commentators say about Cutcliffe is how he manages to produce a competitive team at a place that doesn't really prioritize football, and how he is recruiting to a tough place and he runs a great program, blah blah blah. He's the underdog, and who doesn't love to root for the underdog? But oddly enough, I've managed to miss the connection between Cutcliffe and Manning, probably because I spend most Hokie football games yelling at the TV. And that's EVERY game; there's happy yelling (lot's of that last week), angry yelling (lots of that last year against Duke), ref yelling, annoying commentator yelling, yelling at random opponent fans (this gets worse the more beers in we are), all sorts. So, if I never hear them say anything about Cutcliffe and Manning, does that mean it didn't happen? I say yes. LET'S GO UNDER!
The Joey Coogan Memorial "Navy Hits the Over" Lock of the Week
Joey: This hurts a bit -- Ed Orgeron (sans Joe Brady) and Derek Mason don't exactly scream 'points' -- but my lock of the week is LSU/Vanderbilt Over 49. Yes, LSU's offense is clearly taking a step back after turning Roger Goodell's basement into Baton Rouge North, and Vanderbilt managed only 255 yards from scrimmage against Texas A&M, but 49 is just begging to be taken. LSU comes out pissed off, likely covers the spread, and gets close to 49 by themselves.
The Fifth Fuller: In the interest of keeping with this column, Oklahoma is gonna blow the doors off of Iowa State, -7 points is ridiculously low. But on a more SERIOUS topic, it's Fat Bear Week. For those of you not in the know, we all get to vote on who the fattest bear at Katmai National Park is in a single elimination tournament. Now, last year's winner Holly (405) has a bye until Saturday, and she's got to be the early favorite. But I'm going with a shocker; Walker (151) got knocked out in the first round last year, and he seemed to take it personally. I mean, the guy has an ass like a Chevy, he looks like he's been eating whole trees since March. This is Walker's year. I'd also really like to move away from body shaming these bears; it's nature, okay? Can we all agree to start calling this "Winter Preparedness Week"?
Spread: Virginia Tech -10.5
Joey: This is a dangerous gambling spot. The Hokies are riding high after an impressive season opener, square off against a winless opponent in a sleepy stadium (with or without fans), and have a matchup with divisional rival UNC looming the following week. Put simply, it's the perfect letdown spot.
But something about this Hokies team feels different. Maybe it's Brock Hoffman's cigar-smoking energy, or maybe it's a restocked running back room filled with proven veteran talent. Maybe it's a quarterback trio as deep as anywhere in the country, or maybe it's a defensive line unit that seems to have learned how to rush the quarterback during quarantine. Or maybe it's just me getting caught up in the jubilation of a dominant Week 1 victory that felt like so much more. But until the wheels come tumbling off (as they are no doubt bound to do), I'm enjoying the hell out of having a good football team in Blacksburg.
Hokies by 20.
The Fifth Fuller: In the interest of keeping you all in suspense, I will state my four supporting arguments and then my conclusion.
Firstly, while there was a run a few years back where Duke consistently played the Hokies close in one possession affairs that even went into quadruple overtime in 2015 (successfully blocked THAT one out of my head). However, the history of this series is lopsided, mostly the good way, occasionally the other. It is probable that someone is getting spanked.
Secondly, Duke has not beaten the Hokies two games in a row since the Truman administration.
Thirdly, and oddest of all, Duke's three ACC wins against the good guys all came in Lane Stadium. They have not beaten the Hokies in Durham since Video Killed the Radio Star kicked off MTV.
Fourthly, Khalil Herbert is good at running the football, he is doing so behind an offensive line of ill-tempered bad men and I almost felt bad for the NC State defensive linemen who finally got a sack and were rewarded by Quincy Patterson coming in and crushing their souls.
This one is done in the 3rd quarter. Hokies by a lot.
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.