Georgia Tech is better than Virginia Tech. Let’s prove that on Saturday.
Georgia Tech comes home from a disappointing loss to Virginia to face the Cavaliers’ Commonwealth Cup rival. If you can believe it, the Virginia Tech fanbase is in a far worse state of mind than our own here in Atlanta.
I just went to work for a new company and have several Virginia Tech grads in my area. I’ve been told this week that they would like for us to win this Saturday in order to ensure the demise of their not-beloved head coach. So things aren’t great in Blacksburg. From my vantage point, this is far and away the most winnable game of the remaining season for the Jackets.
Let’s dig in to understand the matchup more deeply and look for some points of relative advantage and disadvantage for GT.
When GT Has the Ball
*GT numbers come from my play by play charting. Opponent numbers come from @CFB_Data and teamrankings.com. Explosive play data comes from David Hale.
*I’ve updated some of the national averages based on season data to date.
This is not Uncle Bud’s Hokie defense, but it’s still a solid unit. They are far less disruptive than the prime VT defenses of previous decades, but they have been especially stingy against the pass. Virginia Tech holds very slight advantages in our SR and YPP categories, solid advantages in the situational 3rd down and red zone areas, and a potentially troublesome advantage in EPA/pass when GT has the ball. On the other hand, GT has an overall EPA advantage, powered by a huge predicted matchup win in the running game. The GT offensive line should be able to keep Hokie disruption (havoc, pressures, and run stuffs) to a reasonable level, which should allow GT to avoid too many obvious passing situations. The explosive play battle comes out to a draw.
Hopefully, Coach Patenaude saw last Saturday just how fruitful it can be to disorient the defense by throwing at a high clip on first down plays. From there, GT should be able to find the same kind of success on the ground as against Virginia. Avoid must pass situations, give Jeff Sims plenty of room to operate on the ground, keep feeding Jahmyr Gibbs, and take your shots. The formula can work very similarly to how it did last week, although I would expect 1 or 2 fewer scoring drives for GT.
When VT Has the Ball
Saturday offers the chance for the GT defense to get back on its feet. This is a bad Hokie offense. They come in below the national average in 9 of our 11 categories; GT should have the decided advantage on this side of the ball. Virginia Tech is mediocre running the ball and straight bad in the passing game.
Coach Collins clearly has put the emphasis on coaching up the secondary this week (as Ken Seguira covered in the AJC yesterday). This is a get right game. Virginia Tech lacks the top end quarterback and receiver talent that GT came up against in Pitt and UVA. They’re not especially good at preventing run stuffs or havoc plays. They are in the bottom quartile nationally in yards per play. A defensive letdown for GT in this game would be cause for a more significant uptick in concern.
The consensus Vegas line opened as a pick’em and has jumped up to GT by 4, which translates to a 61% win probability for GT.
The Binion Index sees it even more in GT’s favor. As you see across the above categories, 12 GT has 12 categories to its advantage, while VT has 9. But for more context, that comes against , the 31st ranked schedule to date for GT but only the 48th for the Hokies. The model projects a 9.9 point GT victory, which would be an encouraging development in this roller coaster season.
Vegas: GT by 4
My Pick: GT 31-21
The Binion Index: GT by 10 (GT to cover)
Year to Date Against the Spread: 216-195-7 (52.5%, Goal: >=55%)
Average Absolute Error: 13.8 points per game (Goal <= 12.5 points per game)