Hokies Football: #25 Virginia Tech at Pittsburgh Picks

For the second straight week, the Virginia Tech Hokies are playing on Thursday night in a big ACC Coastal game with this one coming on the road at Heinz Field against the Pittsburgh Panthers. The Hokies have had their fair share of disappointments at Pittsburgh with the Hokies having an 0-4 all-time record at Heinz Field.

Both teams that a loss would seriously hurt their chances in the ACC Coastal with Pittsburgh being all but formally eliminated if they lose especially with a game against Clemson still left on their schedule. These two teams will be ready for what should be a tough, physical football game so with that said, here are our picks for tonight’s game.

Dwight Lester

For the second week in a row, the Virginia Tech Hokies will be the main attraction on Thursday night. However, the Hokies will leave the friendly confines of Lane Stadium this time to confront another ACC foe. The Hokies travel north to face the Pitt Panthers. Pitt is always a tough out for the Hokies. They seem to always find a way to get the win, often times when it seems most improbable.

This season for both teams has been better than expected. Both teams are in the race for the Coastal title. This game will go a long way to give the winner the inside track to the championship game. This game promises to be a matchup between a talented rushing attack, and an equally talented defense.

Last week, the Hokies further solidified their status as a top tier rushing defense. The Hokies only gave up a paltry 42 yards on the ground. However, Pitt’s rushing attack is a lot better than Miami’s. Pitt boasts James Conner who is ranked 20th in the nation in rushing. Conner could find it challenging going against a tough Hokie front that should get pass rush expert Ken Ekanem back this week. In Ekanem’s absence last week Woody Baron emerged as a star on the defensive front. The combination of Baron and Ekanem could be enough to slow this vaunted rushing attack down.

The Hokie offense could also find themselves having a tough time moving the ball on the ground. The Pitt defense also is a tough bunch, but the Hokies’ offense has been explosive all year long. Even in their losses, they have put up good numbers.

However, in order to get the offense going in the right direction, a rushing attack is needed. Here might lie a problem for Justin Fuente’s offense. Pitt can be just as good against the run as the Hokies. Travon McMillian and company will need to step up and meet this new challenge.

Overall, this is a very important game for the Hokies. A win puts them firmly in the driver’s seat of the ACC coastal. A loss doesn’t necessarily put them out, but they would need help to move on to the championship. I think the Hokies continue to make strides in the right direction and get the win 27-10. As always Hokie fans, LETS GO HOKIES.

Prediction: #25 Virginia Tech 27, Pittsburgh 10

Henry Skutt

Virginia Tech has had some serious struggles playing at Heinz Field. They haven’t won in the Steel City since 1999, and that was even before the Panthers played at Heinz Field. The last time the Hokies visited, they were defeated handily and embarrassingly. However, I think that streak ends tonight.

Pittsburgh has a weak secondary and I think that the Hokies are built to exploit that. Additionally, the defense that Bud Foster is leading this year is playing at a high level and I expect that will continue to be the case — even against a strong Panther offensive line. Coach Fuente and his offensive staff will take advantage of a uncharacteristically  weak Pittsburgh defense and put a decent amount of points. As long as Coach Foster and his defense can hold a very strong running game from the Panthers under 24 points, the Hokies will win this game handily.

Prediction: #25 Virginia Tech 38, Pittsburgh 21

Tim Thomas

The Virginia Tech Hokies face the best team by far remaining on their schedule in the Pittsburgh Panthers knowing that a win tonight will put them in greater control of the ACC Coastal. However, Pittsburgh knows that a win tonight gets them back in the hunt to win the Coastal after losing to North Carolina in heartbreaking fashion earlier this season.

This has all the makings of a close game between two talented football teams that know they need to win and have different strengths. For the Hokies, they haven’t faced a rushing attack and offensive line as good as Pittsburgh’s and while the Hokies have a lot of talent on the defensive line, they’ll need those that are on the injury report tonight especially starting DEs Ken Ekanem and Vinny Mihota.

Virginia Tech’s defense hasn’t face as good of a rushing attack in weeks and will be tested by the power of James Conner and the speed of WR Quadree Henderson who is commonly used in the running game and averaging almost 11 yards per carry. Virginia Tech will have to try to force Pittsburgh’s passing attack to beat them and contain the Panthers rushing attack.

While Pittsburgh has a strong rush defense and a talented pass rusher in Ejuan Price, Virginia Tech will be facing a weak Pittsburgh pass defense that is 122nd in passing yards allowed per game. Jerod Evans and the Hokies’ passing game will have to attack this mismatch early and often knowing this could make a big difference on the outcome.

There is no doubt that this will be a close game but the Hokies will be ready for the challenge against a Pittsburgh that will be hungry for a win. The Panthers will get their fair share of production from Conner, but Evans and the passing attack will take advantage of the mismatch there to survive and get Virginia Tech its first win in Heinz Field.

Prediction: #25 Virginia Tech 27, Pittsburgh 24

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