Virginia vs. Virginia Tech Odds & Picks: Buy Low on the Hokies’ Saturday Revenge?
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images. Pictured: Virginia Tech Hokies
- An in-state rivalry takes place Saturday when the Virginia Cavaliers battle the Virginia Tech Hokies for year-long bragging rights.
- The Hokies boast a formidable offense with Hendon Hooker and Khalil Herbert, but that doesn't mean the path to covering will be easy.
- Stuckey breaks down the game and shares a betting pick based on his analysis below.
Virginia at Virginia Tech Odds
|Virginia Odds||+2.5 [BET NOW]|
|Virginia Tech Odds||-2.5 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||+108/-130 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||62 [BET NOW]|
|Time||Saturday, 8 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Wednesday night and via DraftKings. Get up to a $1,000 sign-up bonus at DraftKings today.|
Virginia and Virginia Tech will meet on Saturday afternoon in Blacksburg for the Commonwealth Cup. This in-state rivalry had been dominated by the Hokies this century. However, Virginia finally came out on top last season, ending a streak of 15-straight losses at the hands of Virginia Tech.
Let’s review each team and then get into how I’m betting this primetime ACC showdown.
Virginia comes into its regular-season finale with a 5-4 record. However, the Cavaliers have certainly been fortunate in a number of games for a variety of reasons. It all started with their season-opening win over a Duke team that lost its two starting corners the week prior. Then, after four straight losses, they rattled off four straight victories. One came against FCS Abilene Christian, but the other three were against legitimate ACC opponents.
Let’s dig a little deeper into those three recent conference wins:
From a yards per play perspective, Virginia was dominated by both UNC and Louisville. It’s also worth noting that Louisville did that without a number of key players due to COVID-19, including its two best skill position players (Tutu Atwell and Javian Hawkins).
At least the win over Boston College was about statistically even, but even that came against BC’s backup QB after it was announced Phil Jurkovec wouldn’t suit up prior to kick. All his backup Dennis Grosel did was tie Doug Flutie’s single-game program record with 520 passing yards.
As you might have figured out by now, Virginia’s defense has been porous, to say the least. It’s a unit that had to replace star cornerback Bryce Hall (now with the New York Jets) and deal with injuries to both starting safeties. And now, it must soldier on without its best player, Charles Snowden.
The defensive end, who’s also the team captain and vocal leader, was lost for the year to injury in the victory over Abilene Christian. It’s a huge loss which could be seen first-hand last Saturday against BC where the ‘Hoos really missed their sack leader off the edge.
Overall, the defense has been crushed by injuries. On Saturday against BC, Virginia was without both starting linebackers, five defensive linemen and a starting safety.
On a positive note, the offense has actually been surprisingly better than expected with Brennan Armstrong under center. There were concerns coming into the season about the offense after losing star quarterback Bryce Perkins and two of the top three receivers.
However, the sophomore Armstrong put those worries to rest in the seven games he started and finished. He played very well in a loss to Clemson, finishing with a 15.1% higher Success Rate and 0.73 more yards per play than an average team, excluding garbage time. He’s also added over 500 yards on the ground.
The offensive line, which struggled immensely for long stretches last season, has also played much better this year. UVA returned almost all of its production up front. That continuity and experience has clearly paid dividends in 2020.
Virginia Tech Hokies
While Virginia rides a four-game winning streak into this matchup, Virginia Tech is on the complete opposite side of the spectrum, having lost four in a row to drop to 4-6 on the year. It’s worth noting, though, that the first two losses came against ranked opponents (Liberty, Miami) by a combined four points in a pair of games the Hokies easily could’ve won.
It’s been a very odd season for Virginia Tech, which has had to deal with plenty of injuries and COVID-related roster issues, but the low point may have come against Pitt two weeks ago. The Hokies were blasted, 47-14, by a shorthanded Panthers squad, and it looked to me like they quit in the second half.
Consequently, I had concerns about where this team was at mentally ahead of its most recent game with Clemson. However, Virginia Tech showed up ready to rock and actually played Clemson pretty even statistically through three quarters. Unfortunately for the Hokies, they had a number of things go wrong, including:
- A half-yard short on a Hail Mary at end of the first half.
- Dropped pick-six.
- A Clemson 70-yard fumble return for a touchdown.
- A fumble inside the Clemson 5-yard line.
Oh, and they lost their top two quarterbacks to injury, which forced fourth-stringer Knox Kadum into action since the third-stringer transferred the week prior. Murphy’s Law was in effect for Virginia Tech, which contributed to a very misleading final score. The effort was at least there.
The bright spot for Virginia Tech is its rushing attack, led by Khalil Herbert — one of five backs to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark this year. Herbert is averaging a gaudy 7.6 yards per carry, which ranks in the top five nationally among all running backs.
The passing game has been inconsistent, to say the least, and the defense has really struggled throughout the season.
Betting Analysis & Pick
Both defenses have been very poor this year — each allowing 6.3 yards per play, which ranks outside the top 100 nationally. There should undoubtedly be opportunities for both offenses to put up plenty of points on Saturday, but I trust the Virginia Tech rushing attack more than any other unit in this game.
Assuming Hendon Hooker returns under center (word on the street is he was simply suffering from the cold on Saturday night), his mobility will only add to Virginia Tech’s potent ground game against a vulnerable and depleted Virginia defense.
I think we are getting Virginia Tech cheap here after four straight losses against a Virginia team that has won four straight. However, as I tried to illustrate above, one of Virginia’s wins came against an FCS school, and it had things break its way in the other three conference wins.
Meanwhile, Virginia Tech could’ve easily defeated two ranked opponents during its four-game slide. It then showed me the fight I wanted to see against Clemson, which gives me confidence the Hokies will show up here for a Saturday night game at Lane Stadium, looking to avenge last season’s loss to their in-state rival.
Plus, it appears that both of Virginia Tech’s top two quarterbacks (Hooker and Braxton Burmeister) are back at practice and will be ready to go this weekend. That’s critical because the alternative is the fourth-stringer.
So, it sounds like Hendon Hooker really was just cold Sat. night against Clemson and Braxton Burmeister is good to go now, too, according to #Hokies coach Justin Fuente. What's the status of Tech's QB situation going into Sat.'s rivalry game against #UVa? https://t.co/pcF6gvOL2l pic.twitter.com/sIZxoj7deR
— Norm Wood (@normwood) December 8, 2020
The cold also shouldn’t be as big of an issue this Saturday night if that’s an ongoing concern for Hooker. The forecast calls for much warmer temperatures than we saw last Saturday against Clemson.
This is a great buy-low/sell-high spot on the Hokies in a game I make closer to -6.
Lastly, don’t sleep on special teams, which could end up making the difference for Virginia Tech and is a spot that Virginia holds an advantage over Virginia in. I got it at -2, but I’m comfortable playing it up to -3.
Pick: Virginia Tech -2.5 (-3 or better).