It wasn't always pretty, but the Hokies overcame a depleted secondary on Saturday evening in Durham to best a game Duke squad, avenging last year's 35-point thrashing in Blacksburg with a 38-31 victory. But despite a second straight Hokies victory, TKP's resident degenerates limped to a 3-4 week, including an 0-4 showing on Virginia Tech -10.5 and our Locks of the Week (0-5 if you count The Fifth Fuller's failed Fat Bear Week pick!).
Thankfully, yours truly remains safely ahead in the league table:
Joey's Record Last Week (& Season Total): 3-4 (8-6-1)
The Fifth Fuller's Record Last Week (& Season Total): 3-4 (7-6-1)
Without further ado, on to the lines!
Over / Under: 100 rushing yards for Khalil Herbert
Joey: I've never enjoyed being more right than I was about Khalil Herbert. From a relatively unknown graduate transfer from football power Kansas to legitimate Heisman candidate in two weeks, it's fair to say it's been a solid start for Tech's newfound star tailback.
That said, UNC's defense has been impressively stout against the run through 2 games, although they haven't faced a challenge to the likes of Vance Vice's mashing squad up front. Behind an array of potential All-ACC performers on the o-line, blindly betting the over feels like the right move. Time to run the ball.
The Fifth Fuller: 07Hokie did a pretty deep dive into whether UNC's rushing defense ranking is due to them being really good or their opponents being really bad. My perspective is, it doesn't matter. Fifteen years ago, the Hokies used to walk into anyone's stadium and do whatever they wanted. Them big, nasty boys up front would get all the push they needed to make holes for running backs who needed just that much daylight to break runs repeatedly. The philosophy was to spend the first two or three quarters crushing the opponent's soul, then blow things open in the fourth quarter. I feel like Duke was the first time in a looooooooooong time I saw that again. And I feel like the football team dislikes UNC just as much as the fans do, and they're going into this game with a chip on their soldier. Ornery O-line, elite running back, and grudge add up to more than 100 rushing yards for Herbert.
Over / Under: 18 Players and Full-Time Coaches on the Unavailability Report
Joey: Pete Moris made it a clean two-for-two against Duke, releasing an incredibly thorough, transparent, and informative Unavailability Report an hour ahead of gametime.
And despite ticking down slightly from 23 players the week prior, Tech was still hard hit by COVID, trotting out a duo of cornerbacks that were squarely on hand number two on the DBU depth chart just six months ago. (And they held up stunningly well!) Rumors have been floating this week that Tech's issues are far from behind them, so I'll stick with the over and cash in at 11:00 am Saturday.
The Fifth Fuller: I feel like this is the equivalent of betting on whether or not the sun will rise in the east. I have seen nothing that tells me that we are past the COVID problem around the football program and, although Blacksburg appears to have gotten past the huge spike in August, the student body in general. Plus, Koma's already said the Hokies secondary is still going to be filled by dudes picked up at McComas. I am going to hit the over on this one until they give me a reason not to.
Most Receptions: Tre Turner, James Mitchell, Tayvion Robinson, or Raheem Blackshear
Joey: With an inconsistent Burmeister-led passing game stalling out drives early against Duke, I fully expect Hendon Hooker to be the starting quarterback on Saturday afternoon in Chapel Hill. And with Hooker comes a renewed focus on his favorite target from a year ago, none other than Tre Turner. Give me Big Play Tre for another dub.
The Fifth Fuller:This is hard! Boston College, who leans on their TE, targeted him the most against UNC. Syracuse, who apparently have TEs as window dressing, barely acknowledged their existence against the Heels. History doesn't teach me much here. I don't know what to expect; Burmeister plays, and he's going to focus on James Mitchell. QP4 plays, and he's going to be throwing back shoulder fades to Tre Turner. Hendon Hooker plays, and he's going to efficiently spread the ball around to his many targets. While Tayvion Robinson and Mitchell are tied for most receptions, Robinson is averaging 20 more yards per game, and with a depleted UNC secondary, here's hoping HH/BB/QP4 can find him. A lot.
Over / Under: 1.5 Turnovers Forced by Virginia Tech Defense
Joey: UNC's offense is loaded. Between Sam Howell at quarterback, a plethora of talented wideouts, and a wildly underrated (and underused, shoutout Larry Fedora) running game, this Tar Heels offense looks the part of a top-2 unit in the league. And while a new-look Tech defense led by
Justin Hamilton Ryan Smith Tracy Claeys Jack Tyler has wreaked havoc on NC State and Duke, UNC feels different. I think this one turns into a shootout from the outset, so I'll go under and pray for some good clean football.
The Fifth Fuller: This one is tough. While we were all busy digging through Hokiesports.com trying to figure out who the hell was on the field in the secondary, the Hokies still managed to come up with a (sorta lucky) pick and forced a fumble. Everyone keeps saying Sam Howell is next level, which means he should conceivably have a field day. HOWEVER, the Hokies defensive line is spending so much time in their opponent's backfield, they're thinking about putting up some nice drapes and maybe a nice easy chair with an ottoman. I think Howell gets pressured into doing something stupid at least once and the defense forces a fumble on top of it. Give me the over.
Over / Under: 0.5 Montages of Mack Brown and Frank Beamer Being Best Friends
Joey: Over! No way the suits at Disney can pass up tried and true talking points for a second straight week after flat out ignoring the good Manning name for a full 3 hours! Mack Brown loves himself some Frank, Frank likes everybody, and Tech telecasts of late seem to enjoy making unwatchable television with poor camera angles and worse commentating.
The Fifth Fuller: The good news about having a game that starts before 4 pm is that it won't run up against Mack Brown's bed time. Matter of fact, he should be able to get out of Kenan for the blue plate special. And there's nothing old people love more than reminiscing about the past. Honestly, I don't really think Mack and Frank are actually very close; while Beamer has documented close friendships with Ralph Friedgen and Bobby Ross, I think these guys always talk about how great the other guys who have been in the business for decades like they have out of professional courtesy. (SIDE NOTE: Except for Paul Johnson, nobody even pretends to like that douchenozzle). So while they can claim to be good friends all day long, can you really have a montage if there are no pictures of them together besides that hall of fame induction and meeting at midfield when they coached against each other? Under.
The Joey Coogan Memorial "Navy Hits the Over" Lock of the Week.
Joey: If you haven't heard, Navy football is back and boy does their defense suck.
Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo takes "1000 percent" blame for the loss. Says they were obviously not prepared and that was a conscious decision to err on the side of safety in practices. But team wasn't ready. Said team hadn't tackled since the bowl game nine months ago.— Kareem Copeland (@kareemcopeland) September 8, 2020
While things have improved slightly since the BYU beatdown, the Midshipmen's sieve of a defense still managed to give up 40 to Air Force and has a hungry Temple team (complete with new uniforms) on deck. This is a get-back-to-your-roots classic with an insultingly low total set at 50.5. Temple should be good for 30+, and the triple option can close whatever gap remains. Over.
The Fifth Fuller: Turns out Oklahoma is terrible! And Texas is even worse, because the Sooners are favored against them. I'm not touching that with a ten foot pole. Coming east a few states, Arkansas managed to take down the team that took down THE TEAM, beating a hungover Miss St who was probably still half drunk a week after beating LSU. Auburn is the very definition of erratic, but they have been predictable this year, beating a bad Kentucky team before losing to a very good Georgia team. Auburn is only favored by 14 and I think Arkansas is going to be lucky to keep it within four touchdowns.
Spread: North Carolina -5
Joey: I wouldn't touch this line with Fifth's ten foot pole.
UNC, despite their 2-0 record and holding the eight spot in the AP Poll, feels unproven. Sure, they're stupid talented on offense and have been lighting up the recruiting trail, but they're also the same UNC program that went 6-6 a season ago en route to a third-place finish in the ACC Coastal. So yeah, I'm not 100% sold that Mack is back.
On the other hand, a rebuilt Virginia Tech backfield and a road-grading offensive line have rejuvenated confidence throughout an anxious fanbase. But questions remain on who starts at quarterback, who makes the trip from the secondary, and who from the defensive staff is healthy enough to call plays.
It's a crapshoot. And when crapshoots surface, always take the points.
The Fifth Fuller: UNC covering the spread would mean that Virginia Tech would have to lose the game. I don't know if y'all are as good at math as I am, but I can tell you that you can't go 15-0 if you lose a game. While I realize that this ain't Bud Foster's defense anymore, quarterbacks don't scare me unless they have "dual threat" in their 247Sports profile. For the record, Howell has "Pro-Style" and "Thick, stocky build" in his. I think that extra padding is going to come in handy, since he's going to be getting hit all day long. I also think Hendon Hooker is going to see the field and show us what kind of leap forward he's made in year two. Finally, I think Khalil Herbert is the best running back the Hokies have had since Ryan Williams and has a better offensive line than Williams ever did, more's the pity for Ryan. I think this one is a bit back and forth early, but Herbert goes HAM on a worn down Heel defense in the 4th to salt it away.
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.