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Week 5 – Virginia Tech at Cincinnati
Posted Sep 26, 2012

Week 5 CFN Fearless Prediction – Virginia Tech at Cincinnati

Virginia Tech (3-1) at Cincinnati (2-0) Sept. 29, 3:30, ESPNU

Here’s The Deal: Virginia Tech and Cincinnati meet in Landover, Md. in an intriguing rematch of the 2009 Orange Bowl. The Hokies have been a disappointment through the first one-third of the season. Yeah, the record doesn’t look too shabby, but the program was taken into overtime by Georgia Tech, got hammered by Pittsburgh and counts Austin Peay and Bowling Green as two of its victims. The one-time heavy favorite in the ACC Coastal Division remains a work-in-progress that’s fortunate to be ranked at the bottom of this week’s coaches’ poll. The Bearcats are sort of like this week’s version of Oregon State. Sure, they impressed in blowing out the same Pitt team that defeated Virginia Tech, but what do we really know about them? In its second outing, Cincinnati regressed in a lackluster 23-7 win over Delaware State, so Saturday afternoon will be a crucial litmus test.

Why Virginia Tech Might Win: There’s no glossing over the fact that the Hokies D got trucked in the loss to Pitt. Still, this is a talented defense, one that should be able to contain a Cincinnati team that’s endured a lot of turnover. Tech believes it got its groove back with last week’s shutout of Bowling Green. It only allowed 266 yards and a dozen first downs in a much-needed complete game. LB Jack Tyler is off to a terrific start to his junior, and ends James Gayle, J.R. Collins and Tyrel Wilson are capable of forcing erratic Bearcats QB Munchie Legaux into game-changing mistakes.

Why Cincinnati Might Win: It’s only two games, but the Bearcats defense appears to have rebounded on the fly, a credit to coordinator John Jancek. It’s only allowed 17 points, while collapsing the pocket with DE Walter Stewart and a mess of other quality athletes. Virginia Tech won’t present the kind of challenge many thought it would when this game was first announced. Ranked 90th nationally in total offense, the line isn’t blocking, the running game has no feature back and QB Logan Thomas has been a big disappointment. The speed and athleticism of the Cincinnati D is going to cause fits for a struggling Hokies attack.

What To Watch Out For: While Virginia Tech has yet to find its successor to David Wilson at running back, Cincinnati has its heir apparent to Isaiah Pead. George Winn has impressed in his first two games as the every-down back, rushing for 242 yards and two scores on 35 carries. He’ll need to be what Ray Graham and Rushel Shell were to Pittsburgh two weeks ago, because Legaux is still raw and unpolished as a passer. The Hokies might consider stacking the box with linebackers and well-sized safeties, forcing the Bearcats to travel by air a little more than they’d prefer.

What Will Happen: Although conference standings will not be impacted, this is a pivotal game for both participants. Virginia Tech wants to locate its mojo. Cincinnati would like to join Louisville and Rutgers as serious contenders in the Big East race. Anything is possible with the Hokies this fall, especially considering how each team fared against common opponent Pittsburgh. However, two extra games of reps will work in their favor. Do not expect much from either offense in a slopfest that could feature more turnovers than touchdowns. Tech will avoid a second loss to a Big East team, but it won’t be decided until late.

CFN Prediction: Virginia Tech 24 … Cincinnati 13
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Virginia Tech -7 O/U: 45
Must Watch Rating (5 – Ryder Cup 2012, 1 – SNL Thursday Weekend Update): 3