Week 8 - Virginia Tech at Clemson

Posted Oct 19, 2012

Week 8 Fearless Prediction – Virginia Tech at Clemson

Virginia Tech (4-3) at Clemson (5-1) Oct. 20, 12:00, ABC

Here's The Deal: The race in the ACC Atlantic has tightened considerably since Clemson bowed to Florida State in Tallahassee on Sept. 22. The Tigers have taken care of business behind their trademark high-powered offense, jetting past Boston College and Georgia Tech before taking a well-deserved week off. In the meantime, the Seminoles suffered an unexpected loss to NC State on Oct. 6, which put the division back in play. Clemson still has work to do in order to defend its league championship, but the road to Charlotte has one less detour than it did two weeks ago. There has been a Virginia Tech sighting over in the Coastal Division race. Given up for dead after suffering three losses in four games, the Hokies were about to be tagged and bagged after falling behind by 20 points to Duke. And then the Gobblers unexpectedly channeled some vintage Frank Beamer squad, scoring 41 unanswered points behind a barrage of big plays. Has Tech finally rebooted back to normal, or was last Saturday's outburst just a fleeting result that had more to do with the level of the competition?

Why Virginia Tech Might Win: If the Hokies can perform the way they did over the final 45 minutes last week, they can win anywhere … including Death Valley. QB Logan Thomas was efficient, rookie RB J.C. Coleman gave the ground game a spark and the Luther Maddy-led D-line produced more sacks than it had all season. Virginia Tech needs to seize that momentum and carry it into this week's road trip. Coleman was a revelation, though he'll still be a part of a rotation that includes Michael Holmes and Tony Gregory. They'll get a crack at a troubled Clemson defense that's given up far too many plays of at least 20 yards, and has had an especially tough time stopping the run.

Why Clemson Might Win: This was going to be Bud Foster's best defense in years in Blacksburg. It hasn't gone that way. The Hokies were vulnerable in big spots in the first half, succumbing to the passing of Tino Sunseri and Munchie Legaux, and the running of Giovani Bernard. The unit just hasn't been tight, which will present particular problems this weekend. Clemson possesses far more weapons than Tech has seen at any point this fall, spitting out at an average of more than 40 points and 500 yards a game. It'll be a pick-your-poison type scenario for Foster's kids. No matter where the attention goes, some combination of RB Andre Ellington and receivers Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins is going to stretch the field as a complement to QB Tajh Boyd. When the Tigers begin to roll, the points come in waves, demoralizing the opposition.

What To Watch Out For: The Clemson D-line can help the rest of the sagging defense by generating more heat, but it has yet to happen in2012. The Tigers have just seven sacks in six games, led by two apiece from sophomores Vic Beasley and DeShawn Williams. They'll be facing a Virginia Tech front wall that's adjusting on the fly to the broken ankle suffered by starting C Andrew Miller, the lone returning starter when the season began. The Hokies are expected to shift versatile G Michael Via inside, an in-season shuffling job that could halt the team's progress on offense.

What Will Happen: Virginia Tech may have halted its descent a week ago, but it'll wind up being a temporary fix. This team still has plenty of issues that'll have a light shined on them in South Carolina. Clemson will display little rust as it returns to action, running its offense efficiently against a Hokies team with lingering vulnerabilities on the defensive side of the ball. The two teams will trade blows from start to finish, with the Tigers owning the knockout power. They'll remain a stride ahead throughout, churning out more than 500 yards of balanced offense.

CFN Prediction: Clemson 41 … Virginia Tech 31
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Clemson -8.5 O/U: 61.5
Must Watch Rating (5 – Seven Psychopaths, 1 – Here Comes the Boom): 3.5