West Virginia (1-2) visits Virginia Tech (2-1) on Thursday night in the battle for the Black Diamond Trophy. JT Daniels and the Mountaineers are searching for their first FBS win of the season while the Hokies are looking to establish footing in the ACC. Below, we’ll look at West Virginia at Virginia Tech odds and game analysis.
This now-defunct rivalry was revived last year, where WVU won 27-21 in Morgantown. Before then, the two met briefly in 2017 and before then not since 2005. The Mountaineers lead the all-time series 29-23-1.
West Virginia At Virginia Tech Odds
- College Football Week 4 odds for every game.
West Virginia At Virginia Tech Odds Movement
WVU opened as high as three-point road favorites on Sunday night, a number that lasted into Monday. On Tuesday, that dropped to 2.5 and even 1.5 points in some spots. The movement could be a delayed response to West Virginia falling to Kansas in Morgantown, when the Mountaineers gave up 55 points to the Jayhawks. With this being the marquee game on Thursday night, watch for further movement.
Moving off three points is big since 17% of college football games end with exactly a three-point differential. This is known as the “push rate” and give bettors a large probability boost on either side of three. We call this a “key number” in football (others include 7, 10, 14).
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All Brakes, No Gas for Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech’s offense has been one of the most difficult products to watch thus far in 2022. After former head coach Brent Pry was fired in Blacksburg, there was a mass exodus of players via the transfer portal. 16 players in total left while just five transferred in during the shift in leadership. This also follows a two-year recruiting stretch where Virginia Tech finished 9th and 14th in the ACC.
That combination’s led to a severe lack in depth on the roster. Per 247Sports, the Hokies are 9th in composite roster talent in the ACC.
The offense ranks 88th in EPA per play (-0.097) despite facing the 117th-toughest schedule nationally, per FPI. QB Grant Wells– a Marshall transfer– has just four TD passes and four interceptions against the likes of Old Dominion (103rd defense SP+ rating), Boston College (47th), and Wofford (FCS). The lack of passing explosiveness has led to the Hokies landing 89th in points per drive (1.57) through three games.
Their two lead running backs, sophomore Malachi Thomas and redshirt senior Jalen Holston, are dealing with injuries. No receiver on the team has more than 15 receptions on the season. Thomas has yet to play this season while Holston is the team leader in yards and carries.
They go against a West Virginia defense that’s bled points this season. Kansas just hung 55 on them and WVU is 114th in points per drive allowed on the season. However, the Mountaineers are marginally better against the run (83rd in EPA) than the pass (113th). Against a predominantly-run offense in VA Tech (56.8%, 37th-most), it’s a suitable counter.
Hokies’ Defensive Numbers Need Context
Defensively, Virginia Tech looks good on paper. They’re eighth nationally in EPA per play (-0.341) and 19th in points per drive allowed (0.86), but that’s come against an opponent average SP+ rank of 94.5.
Their points per drive number is bolstered by success on standard drives starting between their opponent’s 20 and 40 yard line (6th). From drives starting either beyond the opponent’s own 40 or behind their own 20, VA Tech ranks 61st and 72nd, respectively. Perhaps unactionable, but an interesting note nonetheless.
West Virginia at Virginia Tech Forecast
West Virginia’s defense was torched by Pitt and Kansas, two surprisingly explosive offenses this year. They struggled to defend Jalon Daniels on the ground and also let Kedon Slovis pick up some important scrambles. However, this team has failed to cover the spread because of two turnovers – a Pick-6 to lose the Backyard Brawl and an overtime fumble recovery for a TD. You can’t just wave those off and say, “Well, WVU should be 2-0 against the spread,” but you can project a regression to the mean with the fourth-worst luck in the nation (-0.9).
That said, I don’t think Virginia Tech’s offense threatens enough to run this total up. I’m betting under 52.5 points for this game. The Hokies are too mistake prone on offense and special teams to piece together a sound offensive day. Hell, they scored season-highs on Wofford and Boston College (27). When one team can’t hold their weight in scoring, the under is a good play.
On the flip side, Lane Stadium is a very difficult place to play. We’ve seen potent offenses fizzle under the bright lights in Blacksburg, namely North Carolina a season ago.
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