Hokies Football: #17 North Carolina at Virginia Tech Preview and Prediction

We all knew this day would eventually come, but Frank Beamer’s final home game on the sidelines is here. However, the Virginia Tech Hokies get what is far from a cupcake for this game as the #17 North Carolina Tar Heels come into Lane Stadium with a nine-game winning streak and a high-powered offense led by Marquise Williams.

Emotions will be very high in Blacksburg from a sellout crowd desperate to see the Hokies win to the players wanting to pull off a big upset and win this game for Frank Beamer. Beamer has pointed all week that this game is for the seniors, but the players want this for Beamer more than anything else, and would love to have plenty of fans on the field celebrating after today’s game.

Williams and the Tar Heels have been dominant the last two weeks with an impressive 125 points scored in the last two games. The Tar Heels are mainly built around the passing attack with Williams having 21 touchdowns on the season with a completion percentage of 63.1%. Since UNC’s opening loss, Williams has only thrown four interceptions and has been on fire for the Tar Heels.

Ryan Switzer has developed into a top receiver, and not just a quality return man with a UNC-leading 61 receptions for 755 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns. Switzer isn’t the only talented UNC receiver with North Carolina also having playmakers like Bug Howard, Quinshad Davis, and Mack Hollins who leads UNC with an average of 17.5 yards per reception and 8 receiving touchdowns.

Chuck Clark, Brandon Facyson, and the Virginia Tech defensive backs will face their toughest matchups of the season, and have to make sure they are on-point today. It would not be surprising to see Bud Foster use Chuck Clark deeper today with Adonis Alexander in the box to allow the veteran safety to provide help over the top due to UNC’s big-play threat.

The Tar Heels are not a one-dimensional offense with a solid running game led by T.J. Logan who is averaging 4.9 yards per carry behind a very good offensive line. However, North Carolina’s running game is not elite, and the Hokies need Andrew Motuapuaka and the linebackers to play smart and fill any gaps to contain Logan and Elijah Hood.

Travon McMillian has been a force to be reckoned with since taking the starting running back job. Now that McMillian is back home and playing a weaker defense in North Carolina compared to Duke, McMillian could be ready to have the best game of his career though UNC’s defense has improved under Gene Chizik.

Michael Brewer was good enough last week, but the Hokies will need the senior quarterback to step up and make some plays to guys like Isaiah Ford and Bucky Hodges. Brewer has to make sure he hits the home run balls today, and gives the Hokies some big plays that not only can flip momentum, but also will allow VT to take advantage of the sellout crowd.

Frank Beamer’s team will be ready for this game today, but North Carolina will be tough. If this was just a normal game earlier in the season, North Carolina would be the pick but that’s not so certain. The Hokies and Tar Heels will play a tough game that seems likely to have a final score in the thirties.

This still seems like it should be a UNC victory, but crazy things have happened before in Lane Stadium, and it would be very appropriate if more of that happened today.

Prediction: Virginia Tech 35, #17 North Carolina 34

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