After losing back-to-back games and three of their last four, Virginia Tech heads to Pittsburgh looking to turn around their season. However, the Hokies have more on the line than just trying to turn their season as T remains in control of their own destiny in the ACC Coastal (and becomes the frontrunner) with a win, but will be eliminated from Coastal contention with a loss.
Meanwhile, Pittsburgh has emerged as the favorite in the Coastal with back-to-back wins and a 3-1 record over their past four games. Pitt may be 4-4, but 3 of those 4 losses have come to Notre Dame, UCF, and Penn State (the UNC loss is still surprising).
This game is the most consequential game in the ACC Coastal so far this season with the winner emerging as the frontrunner to win the division and earn a spot in the ACC Championship.
With that said, here are our picks for today's Coastal showdown.
Virginia Tech is struggling losing 3 of their past 4, but the Hokies have also been better away from Blacksburg having an unbeaten conference record away from home and a winless home record against ACC teams. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh has momentum with back-to-back wins putting them at the top of the ACC Coastal as the favorite to win the division.
The Hokies won't be surprised when they face an experienced Pitt team that is a poor's man Boston College with a solid running game and a passing game that is okay at best. Kenny Pickett showed lots of promise last season, but he hasn't been much more than a slightly below-average game manager this season and with a receiving corps that lacks a standout receiver.
However, Pitt has a pair of talented tailbacks in Qadree Ollison and Darrin Hall who are averaging over 6 yards per carry, likely force Bud Foster to load the box with 7 or 8 regardless of who is healthy. With that, expect the Hokies to let their cornerbacks get one-on-one coverage opportunities to prove themselves whether that's for better or for worst early.
Meanwhile, the Hokies face a PItt defense that has been inconsistent allowing 37 to Syracuse, 19 to Notre Dame, 54 to Duke, and 13 to Virginia (though that game was on a mess of a field). Pitt has shown some vulnerability in the passing game with Daniel Jones throwing for almost 400 yards two weeks ago and Bryce Perkins keeping the UVA offense afloat last week with his arm. For Ryan Willis, this game presents an opportunity given Pitt's pass defense struggles though expect Pitt to try to compensate for that early and force the Hokies to run the ball.
Right now, Pittsburgh is the team with all the momentum, but the Hokies also haven't lost three-straight under Justin Fuente. This game feels like a toss-up with the Hokies having played better on the road than at home this season. In addition, Pitt feels like a pretty good matchup with their pass defense being a weak spot and their passing offense not having the firepower that on-paper would give the Hokies' problems.
Virginia Tech has struggled over the past few weeks, but they've shown signs of promise through their struggles including their quality first half against Boston College. This VT team has been wildly inconsistent but against a Pitt team that is a good matchup given the Hokies' strengths and weaknesses, Virginia Tech finds a way to take down Pitt and emerge as the Coastal's frontrunner.
Pick: Virginia Tech 35, Pittsburgh 30
It’s been a difficult three weeks for the Hokies. Offensively, it seems the issue is inconsistency. The offense starts off hot in the first quarter, and as the game progresses, they fail to provide much life. Then, by the time the offense gets going again, it’s already too late and the Hokies are down by double digits.
It’s been a common theme these last few weeks as many fans are asking questions about this offense. Perhaps this could be the week the Hokies can play a full four quarters offensively, especially with a Pitt defense that gives up an average of 30.4 points per game.
The Hokie defense doesn’t seem to have much life as it’s looked the worst I’ve seen in years. This problem isn’t completely on Bud Foster or anyone else on the defensive staff. The bottom line is that this is a very young defense, and it’ll take time for them to mature into what fans are used to seeing in a Bud Foster defense.
With that being said the Pitt offense scores an average 27.2 points per game. The downside for the Hokie defense is that Pitt rushes for an average 230.8 yards per game. As we’ve seen with the Hokie defense these last few weeks it’s the ability to stop the run that’s become the weakest point. It’ll be interesting to see how the Hokies respond in this particular game, but the Hokies could have a hard time slowing down the Pittsburgh rushing attack.
Pick: Pittsburgh 41, Virginia Tech 30
After another disappointing loss the Hokies travel to the Steel City in search of a win to right the ship. Virginia Tech will have it’s work cut out for it as the Pitt Panthers always seem to be a very tough team to beat. After all, last year's game came down to an epic goal line stand after an extreme effort play by Reggie Floyd to stop the go ahead score.
This game is truly one where the records don’t matter, it’s all about the toughness. Pitt, Virginia Tech, and UVA all somewhat control their destiny when it comes to the ACC Coastal. Believe me Pitt is going to come out fired up. This week, the offense needs to find the consistency it had against Duke on the road. A steady and effective rushing game is going to be paramount.
Look for Steven Peoples to assert himself early in the offense whether it be between the tackles or on the swing passes. Ryan Willis is also going to be key as Pitt will definitely throw some very exotic defensive schemes his way. Willis needs to be able to identity coverage and blitz packages to ensure the Hokies are in the right play.
Defensively, the Hokies just need to play for each other. This season has definitely been an all-hands-on-deck situation with several key players going down with injuries. Remembering the toughness of the Lunch Pail will go along way in this game as I believe it will be won in the trenches. Bud Foster's bunch better have brought that go to work mentality if they hope to pull this one out.
All in all, I have no idea what to expect as far as which team will show up. I’d like to think at this point the Hokies are playing for pride and for each other, which will result in a great performance. The inconsistency of both teams makes this a toss up. Being the ever optimistic fan, I’m going to go with a Hokies win 31-21. LETS GO HOKIES!!!
Pick: Virginia Tech 31, Pittsburgh 21
Photo Credit: Harley Taylor
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