Week 6 – Virginia Tech at North Carolina

Posted Oct 3, 2012

Week 6 CFN Fearless Prediction – Virginia Tech at North Carolina

Virginia Tech (3-2) at North Carolina (3-2) Oct. 6, 12:30, ACC Network

Here's The Deal: It's a good thing that Virginia Tech is no longer in the Big East, or else it'd have no shot at a conference title this season. The Hokies were exposed on two separate occasions by members of their former league, losing to Pittsburgh and Cincinnati in September. Falling to the Bearcats last Saturday was especially painful because it came on a wounded duck off the right arm of Munchie Legaux with just 13 seconds left on the clock. Even if Tech pulled the game out, it couldn't have glossed over the myriad problems that this team is currently facing. The silver lining? The Hokies are 1-0 in ACC play, so a wide-open Coastal Division is still near the top of the to-do list. Carolina has been easy to figure out this season—dominant against poor competition, yet falling short versus comparable opponents. Against Elon, East Carolina and Idaho, the Tar Heels have rolled by a combined score of 145-6. However, progress won't be achieved for first-year coach Larry Fedora until his kids can outscore the likes of Wake Forest and Louisville.

Why Virginia Tech Might Win: This is a huge game for the Hokies, but especially QB Logan Thomas. The junior, who began the year as a possible early entrant into the 2013 NFL Draft, has regressed in his second year as a starter. While he's thrown nearly as many picks as touchdown passes, there's no denying that he has an immense amount of ability, which could reach the surface against a Carolina defense that's weakest in the secondary. Thomas needs to get his favorite wide receivers, Marcus Davis, Corey Fuller and Dyrell Roberts, in space, where they can use their athleticism to beat the Tar Heels over the top. Tech has gone five straight games without a 100-yard back for the first time since 2007, so it could be Thomas or bust in Chapel Hill.

Why North Carolina Might Win: The Tar Heels are beginning to play their best football under Fedora, looking as if the new systems on both sides of the ball are beginning to set in. Since the end of the third quarter of the Louisville game two weeks ago, Carolina has outscored its opponents 120-9. The defense hasn't allowed a touchdown in nine quarters, and the offense is far more dangerous and balanced now that RB Giovani Bernard has returned from injury to join QB Bryn Renner in the backfield. No one is running on a front seven highlighted by DE Kareem Martin, DT Sylvester Williams and LB Kevin Reddick, which pretty much guarantees that Virginia Tech will be relegated to a one-note offense at Kenan Stadium.

What To Watch Out For: The Hokies defensive backfield is having too many breakdowns in coverage this fall, yielding three touchdown passes apiece to Tino Sunseri on Sept. 15 and Munchie Legaux last weekend. Renner is a better thrower than both quarterbacks. Unlike last season when Dwight Jones was the clear-cut go-to receiver, Renner is spreading the ball around in 2012, throwing at least two touchdown passes to six different teammates. Antone Exum, who shifted from safety to cornerback before the season, has been a microcosm for Virginia Tech's defensive problems, prompting Frank Beamer to suggest that changes to his lineup could be on the horizon.

What Will Happen: Every streak must come to an end. And Carolina is about to beat Virginia Tech in Chapel Hill for the first time since 1938. The two programs are heading in opposite directions, the Heels north and the Hokies south. Tech just isn't a very good team in 2012, living more on its reputation than actual production. The bowl-ineligible Heels, on the other hand, are starting to click, and will view this week as one of a handful of games they've circled on the calendar. With a chance to knock the Hokies down another rung, Carolina will play with a little extra energy and a noticeable bounce in its step.

CFN Prediction: North Carolina 28 … Virginia Tech 20
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) North Carolina -4 O/U: 49.5
Must Watch Rating (5 – Master, 1 – Trouble with the Curve): 2.5