#22 West Virginia Mountaineers vs #21 Virginia Tech Hokies
Sunday, September 3, 2017, 7:30 pm Eastern, TV: ABC
FedEx Field – Landover, Maryland
Opening Line: Virginia Tech -4 1/2
Current Line: Virginia Tech -5
Opening Total: 54 1/2
Current Total: 52
Opening Money Line: Virginia Tech -225 / West Virginia +188
Current Money Line: Virginia Tech -205 / West Virginia +180
Two schools from neighboring states meet in another neighboring state in a stadium that is home to the NFL team representing our nation’s capital. Got that? No? Okay let me clarify. The West Virginia Mountaineers and Virginia Tech Hokies meet Sunday in Landover, Maryland at FedEx Field where the Washington Redskins play their home games.
These two schools were once conference rivals in the Big East but they haven’t played since 2005. West Virginia leads the series 28-22-1. The Hokies have won 7 of the last 10 games in the series including 34-17 in Morgantown in 2005. The Mountaineers are 5-1 in neutral site games in the series.
West Virginia is coached by Dana Holgorsen. The Mountaineers went 10-3 last year and 7-2 in the Big 12. The Mountaineers lost to Miami 31-14 in the Russell Athletic Bowl. WVU was 5-8 ATS and the total was 5-8 as well.
Virginia Tech is coached by Justin Fuente. The Hokies were 10-4 and 6-2 in the ACC. Virginia Tech won the Coastal Division but lost to eventual national champion Clemson 42-35 in the ACC Championship game. The Hokies beat Arkansas 35-24 in the Belk Bowl. Virginia Tech went 8-6 ATS and the total was 8-6 last year.
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West Virginia outscored teams 31-24 last season. The Mountaineers averaged 486 yards per game on offense including 257 passing and 228 rushing yards per game. On defense, WVU allowed 426 yards per game including 258 passing and 168 rushing yards. The Mountaineers were +4 in turnovers with 25 takeaways. West Virginia averaged 63 penalty yards per game and opponents averaged 69 per game. The Mountaineers were 88/203 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents were 90/226. WVU forced 23 sacks and allowed 25 last season. The Mountaineers were 46/57 scoring in the red zone with 33 touchdowns, and opponents were 42/50 with 25 touchdowns.
Quarterback Skyler Howard has graduated. He threw for over 3,300 yards with 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, and he also rushed for 463 yards and 10 touchdowns. Former Florida quarterback Will Grier was ruled eligible by the NCAA after failing a test for performance enhancing drugs in 2015. At the time the Gators were 6-0 with Grier at the helm. Chris Chugunov is the back-up.
Running back Justin Crawford is back after rushing for 1,184 yards on 163 carries with 4 touchdowns. He also had 14 catches for 68 yards and a touchdowns. Rushel Shell has graduated after he had 113 carries for 514 yards and 5 touchdowns, plus 12 catches for 100 yards. Kennedy McCoy had 73 carries for 472 yards and 4 touchdowns, plus 9 catches for 64 yards and a touchdown. He will get most of the back-up carries. Martell Pettway had 49 carries for 260 yards and a touchdown. Fullback Elijah Wellman is most used for blocking but he did have 14 carries last year.
The top two receivers are gone. Shelton Gibson had 43 catches for 951 yards and 8 touchdowns. He is now with the Philadelphia Eagles. Daikel Shorts had 63 catches for 894 yards and 5 touchdowns. He is now with the Buffalo Bills. Ka’Raun White is the top returning receiver with 48 catches for 583 yards and 5 touchdowns. Jovon Durante had 35 catches for 331 yards and 2 touchdowns. He has transferred to Florida Atlantic. Gary Jennings had 10 catches for 165 yards and 2 touchdowns. Junior college transfer Dominique Maiden looks to grab one of the starting spots. Marcus Simms is suspended for the season opener after a DUI arrest.
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Virginia Tech outscored teams 35-22 last season. The Hokies averaged 445 yards per game on offense including 261 passing and 183 rushing yards. Virginia Tech is allowing 341 yards per game on defense including 200 passing and 141 rushing. The Hokies were -1 in turnovers with 25 takeaways. Virginia Tech averaged 46 penalty yards per game and opponents averaged 59 per game. The Hokies were 99/228 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents were 66/225. Virginia Tech forced 32 sacks and allowed 32 last season. The Hokies were 60/68 scoring in the red zone with 42 touchdowns, and opponents were 34/41 with 25 touchdowns.
Quartetback Jerod Evans has graduated. He threw for 3,552 yards with 29 touchdowns and 8 interceptions, and also led the Hokies in rushing with 846 yards on 204 carries with 12 touchdowns. Redshirt freshman Josh Jackson beat out JUCO transfer A.J. Bush for the starting job.
Running back Travon McMillian is back after he had 145 carries for 671 yards and 7 touchdowns. He also had 11 catches for 120 yards and 3 touchdowns. He is not slated to start though. Steven Peoples gets that honor according to the Virginia Tech depth chart. He had 16 carries for 60 yards and a touchdown, plus 2 catches for 40 yards and a touchdown.
Receiver Isaiah Ford and tight end Bucky Hodges are both the NFL, with the Miami Dolphins and Minnesota Vikings respectively. Ford had 79 catches for 1,094 yards and 7 touchdowns. Hodges had 48 catches for 691 yards and 7 touchdowns. Cam Phillips is back though after making 76 catches for 983 yards and 5 touchdowns last year. C.J. Carroll had 18 catches for 258 yards last year. Eric Kumah will also start at receiver. Freshman Dalton Keene will start at tight end, but Chris Cunningham had 4 touchdown catches at the position last year.
West Virginia is 2-5 ATS overall, 6-15 against ACC teams, 1-5 on grass, 1-4 in non-conference games and 0-4 in neutral site games. The under is 4-1 in this series recently.
Virginia Tech is 4-0 ATS in Sunday games and overall, 7-3 on grass, and 7-16-1 in September.
Both of these schools won ten games last season, but have some losses at the skill positions. Both have to replace star quarterbacks, and could be in for a little bit of a rebuilding. Still, both teams are ranked in the top 25 in the pre-season poll. I think Virginia Tech wins a close game but I see a lot of points scored.