Virginia Tech at Louisville Odds
|Virginia Tech Odds||-3.5 [BET NOW]|
|Louisville Odds||+3.5 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||-148/+120 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||67 [BET NOW]|
|Time||Saturday, 4 p.m. ET|
This ACC matchup features two of the conference’s most unpredictable teams with two of its most explosive offenses.
The Louisville Cardinals (2-4) have been disappointing so far this season but got back on track last week with a 48-16 blowout victory over Florida State that halted a four-game losing streak. The Cardinals finally got their explosive offensive in full throttle in the win, ripping off 569 yards of offense and scoring long touchdowns of 58 and 70 yards.
The Virginia Tech Hokies (3-2) have lost two of their past three and are coming off their worst offensive performance of the year in a 23-16 loss to Wake Forest. They were able to move the ball, out-gaining Wake by more than 100 yards but struggled to finish off drives, coming away with just six points in four red-zone trips and committing three costly turnovers.
A trip to Cardinal Stadium to face Louisville’s below-average defense may be just what the doctor ordered for the Virginia Tech offense to get back on track.
Virginia Tech Hokies
The Hokies have had a strange season thus far, as they were hampered by COVID-19 cases and injuries. They had more than 20 players out with COVID in each of their first two games against NC State and Duke but still won both games convincingly.
In their first loss to North Carolina, they were without 15 players, and their depleted depth in the secondary really hurt them in that game; they surrendered 56 points to the Tar Heels. With a healthier defense, Virginia Tech fared much better on that side of the ball, allowing just 313 yards of offense and 23 points to the Demon Deacons.
Virginia Tech’s offense has its ups and downs, but the Hokies had no issues moving the football. Junior quarterback Hendon Hooker lost his starting job to Braxton Burmeister in the offseason, but he took over for Burmeister at halftime of the North Carolina game and played well enough to lead the Hokies to 31 second-half points.
Hooker gives the offense an added element with his terrific running ability, but his accuracy as a passer can be an issue, as his three interceptions at Wake Forest last week were costly.
The running game has been outstanding all season — one of the few constants for this Hokie squad. Among teams that have played more than one game, they have the nation’s second-best running attack, with only Army averaging more rushing yards per game.
Kansas transfer Khalil Herbert has put on a show this season, posting 656 yards on the ground through five games with a ridiculous 8.75 yards per carry. Hooker has been lethal running the ball as well, already recording 291 yards and four scores on the ground in 2.5 games of action.
Look for the Hokies to get the ground game going early and often to eventually wear down Louisville’s mediocre rush defense on Saturday.
The Cardinals’ offense is filled with playmakers, and after a string of disappointing performances, finally put everything together in last week’s win over Florida State. Malik Cunningham played a strong, clean game, passing for 274 yards and two touchdowns without an interception.
Louisville’s home-run hitters had big days, as deep threat receiver Tutu Atwell recorded three receptions for 129 yards and a 58-yard touchdown. Running back Javian Hawkins was electric, putting up 174 yards on just 16 carries, including a 70-yard score.
Cardinals fans have been waiting for this type of output from their star players and the offense as a whole. The Louisville offense mustered just 233 yards against Notre Dame and was unable to spring open big plays. Against Georgia Tech the week prior, moving the ball wasn’t the issue, but losing three fumbles and committing untimely penalties proved costly.
Defensively, the Cardinals have struggled against the run, which is bad news with the explosive tandem of Herbert and Hooker coming to town. Louisville is allowing nearly 200 yards per game on the ground on 4.91 yards per carry and will have a very difficult time containing one of the nation’s top rushing attacks.
The Cardinals have been a bit better defending the pass, allowing 197 yards per game and holding opponents to 6.8 yards per attempt. In order to slow down the Hokies’ running game, look for Louisville to stack the box and try to force Hooker to beat them through the air.
However, this strategy could backfire if it leaves its cornerbacks on an island and Hooker is able to connect with his receivers downfield.
Betting Analysis & Pick
I think we’re getting a discount on Virginia Tech here based on last week’s performance at Wake Forest. The defense showed improvement and the offense moved the football, but turnovers and red-zone struggles kept it from putting points on the board and led to a misleading final score.
Louisville appeared to have turned a corner last week against Florida State, but it’s in for a much tougher test against a Virginia Tech defense that’s starting to find its footing. It’s tough to envision the Cardinals breaking off as many explosive plays on Saturday as they did against the lowly Seminole defense.
If Virginia Tech can get its rushing attack firing on all cylinders, it’ll start putting points on the board, and there won’t be a whole lot the Louisville defense can do to stop them. Expect the Hokies to cruise to victory on the road.
Pick: Virginia Tech -3.5 (up to -6)