Virginia Tech at East Carolina ESPN Thursday Pick

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Three weeks ago we were starting to hear talk of Virginia Tech as a possible national title contender. The Hokies were ranked 4th in the nation, 5-1 overall, 3-0 in conference, all behind that suffocating defense. They are now ranked 23rd in the nation and should consider themselves fortunate to crack the top 25. What happened? Back to back tough losses has dropped the Hokies from a national title contender to 4th in the ACC. This week the VaTech will travel to East Carolina in hopes of ending their skid against the East Carolina Pirates.

Virginia Tech can be described as inconsistent at best. When they are playing good football, they can very much resemble a top 10 team. Junior Tyrod Taylor leads the Hokie offense which has the luxury of watching that defense physically take over games. Ask the coaches of Nebraska, Miami, and Boston College how good the Hokie defense can be. Nebraska couldn’t get in the endzone once, settling for five field goals. Miami managed a single touchdown in a 31-7 defeat, going 1-11 on third downs, and only gaining 209 total yards of offense. Boston College was taken to the wood shed three weeks ago. They started the second half down 34-0 and had not gained a first down until the 3rd quarter. Coach Beamer described his teams play in recent weeks as a problem of “being consistently good”. “We have to continue to work to get that consistency.”

The Virginia Tech defense hardly resembles what we saw in previous weeks following the last second defeat to North Carolina. The Tar Heels were able to rush for over 180 yards on the ground, controlling the time of possession throughout the contest. The previous week against Georgia Tech, the VaTech defense had allowed over 300 yards on the ground, far and away their worst performance of the year. Combine the now porous defense with some very sloppy and inconsistent play from their offense and VaTech may be in trouble again Thursday.

Tyrod Taylor and the offense are struggling to find any level of consistency in recent weeks. Taylor threw 2 interceptions against Georgia Tech, completed less than 50% of his passes against North Carolina, and was sacked 3 times in the game. The Hokie offense has turned the ball over four times in the last two games and are losing the time of possession battle almost 2 to 1.

East Carolina comes into the game riding high. The Pirates are first in the Conference USA standings at 4-1 and are coming off two blowout performances in which they scored almost 45 points per game. Like most heavy dogs, East Carolina is already playing the disrespect card. Do not buy into that garbage and play on that emotional side of things. Buy into the fact that the Pirates have put together back to back games in which they are averaging over 450 yards in total offense. Buy into the fact that their bend but do not break defense has given up less than 20 points and forced 7 turnovers in their last two games.

At any other point in the season I would pick Virginia Tech to cover the 13 points but not this week. East Carolina is a decent team in a bad conference. They just happen to catch the Hokies at the perfect time of the year, playing at home which they remain undefeated this season and at a time when VaTech is struggling on both sides of the ball. Expect East Carolina to provide just enough of a scare, keeping the game within the 13 point spread.

ESPN Thursday Night Pick: East Carolina +13

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