Notre Dame has its eyes set on the College Football Playoff and there isn’t much in its way the rest of the season. Virginia Tech has been up-and-down in the first month and wasn’t getting much money earlier in the week for this matchup. The Fighting Irish were up to -6.5 point road favorites with an over/under of 56 as of Wednesday at YOUWAGER Sportsbook.
Notre Dame’s offense got a shot of steroids once Ian Book took over as quarterback. After struggling to do anything the first few Games, the offense exploded in the last two and most recently dropped 38 points against Stanford. Book’s been the main reason for that, completing 74.3% of his passes on 8.80 yards per attempt to go with seven touchdowns and no picks. Combine that with a solid running Game between Tony Jones and Jafar Armstrong, who are both averaging more than five yards per carry and the Irish are a legit threat on a national level.
The question in this Game is what the Virginia Tech defense can do, as it’s been one of the best in the country against the run, allowing only 2.6 yards per carry. But while the Hokies just handled Duke last week in a 31-14 win, it’s the same team that lost 49-35 against Old Dominion, allowing 495 passing yards and 137 more on the ground. This team has been all over the place, but there’s no question going into this Game that it will have to Scoreto win.
The interesting thing is that Ryan Willis led the Hokies to their most recent win over Duke, throwing for 332 yards and three touchdowns. Unlike Book, Willis is only the starting quarterback because Josh Jackson broke his leg. It remains to be seen whether Willis, formerly at Kansas, can lead the team consistently to wins against better opponents and this Game could reveal some issues.
Notre Dame’s defense hasn’t been dominant, but it’s held every team in check in both phases of the Game. The Irish are allowing just 3.3 yards per carry and haven’t let a quarterback really carve them up. If Tech can’t move the ball on the ground between Steven Peoples and Deshawn McClease, that will put a lot of pressure on Willis, who was never really troubled against Duke after going into halftime up 17-7. This one could be different as Notre Dame just handled the Stanford rushing attack and in turn only gave up 17 points to the Cardinal.
The best thing for Virginia Tech is that this Game is at home and under the lights. These teams met two years ago and the Hokies won 34-31, but it’s hard to put much into that result given that it was at the end of the season for a Notre Dame team that went 4-8. This one will have a much different feel to it and Willis is still unproven at quarterback, though the same can be said for Book.
The Fighting Irish are 6-2 ATS in their last eight following an ATS win and 5-2 ATS in their last seven on the road. The Hokies are 11-4 ATS in their last 15 home Games and 6-1 ATS in their last seven at home against a team with a winning road record.
Our Pick – Notre Dame -6.5