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Against the Odds: Pitt vs. Virginia Tech

Checking the betting line for the Va Tech game

NCAA Football: Pittsburgh at Virginia Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Pitt enters the big Thursday night showdown with Virginia Tech as an underdog. As of now, Virginia Tech will come into Heinz Field as a 4 1/2-point favorite (up slightly from the opening line of four) for the primetime national TV game on ESPN. The Hokies support a 5-2 record and check in 25th in the most recent rankings.

Virginia Tech has been pretty impressive this season, especially on defense. The are 11th nationally in total defense, which has been a staple of the Bud Foster era. The difference this season appears to be a more wide open offense that is putting up more points than in recent seasons. Junior quarterback Jerod Evans is having a pretty ridiculous season with 1,611 passing yards and 19 touchdown passes. He’s also a capable runner, and had a season-high 98 yards in their win against Miami last week.

So pretty much, Pitt is facing a team with a strong defense and a quarterback that can pass and is mobile. Sounds like a recipe for disaster. Those strengths can definitely exploit Pitt’s weaknesses. This very well could be the best team Pitt has faced this season as a whole.

Now, it’s not all doom and gloom. Pitt is a pretty good team in their own right, and it’s a four point spread, not a 40 point spread - it should be a good game. They have played well at home this season, and are 4-0 at Heinz Field. The Panthers are alwo enjoying one of their best offensive seasons in school history, as they have put up 36 or more points in each of their last six games.

There is also history on Pitt’s side. Pitt has won two straight against Virginia Tech, including a Thursday Night showcase like this two years ago. In fact, Pitt has won 6 of the last 7 meetings with the Hokies, and that spans multiple coaching regimes. As a whole, Pitt just matches up well with the Hokies.

I think four points is a fair spread, but I’m tempted to take Pitt. It’s a must win for both teams who still have a chance of winning the ACC Coastal Division. I think both teams have a shot in this one, but it might be a different kind of Pitt-Virginia Tech game then we are used to seeing. Points will be scored. Last year’s game was 17-13 in favor of Pitt, but I expect a few more points to be scored this time.

What do you think? Can Pitt score the big nationally televised win?