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October 25, 2007

BC at Virginia Tech: Who has the edge?

MORE: BC hopes to avoid troubling trend | Video preview

Game of the Week: No. 2 Boston College vs. No. 8 Virginia Tech
Boston College run offense vs. Virginia Tech run defense
EDGE: Virginia Tech The Eagles have a solid but unspectacular running game. Andre Callender has rushed for 627 yards and has a couple of 100-yard games to his credit, while L.V. Whitworth averages more than 4 yards per carry off the bench. The Eagles have rushed for at least 119 yards in each of their past four games. Virginia Tech is allowing just 98 rushing yards per game to rank 17th nationally. The Hokies have allowed fewer than 125 rushing yards in each of their past five games after surrendering 297 to LSU in the second week of the season. They've allowed just 80 yards combined in their past two games, against Duke and Clemson. But standout LB Vince Hall is not expected to play because of a broken wrist and LB Cam Martin is questionable because of mononucleosis.
Boston College pass offense vs. Virginia Tech pass defense
EDGE: Boston College Behind Heisman-contending quarterback Matt Ryan, Boston College is averaging 310.9 passing yards per game. Ryan has thrown for at least 204 yards in each of his past five games and has thrown 13 touchdown passes and three interceptions in that span. Ryan distributes the ball evenly and has five receivers with at least 24 catches, led by Brandon Robinson and Rich Gunnell, who both have 30. Virginia Tech has been vulnerable against the pass against top competition, having allowed 301 passing yards to LSU and 372 to Clemson. However, the Hokies allow only an average of 204.1 passing yards per game. The Hokies have eight interceptions and have allowed five touchdown passes. They're most successful when pressuring the quarterback and have posted 26 sacks in seven games to rank fifth in the nation. Chris Ellis leads with five sacks. Boston College has allowed just six sacks.
Virginia Tech run offense vs. Boston College run defense
EDGE: Boston College Hokies TB Branden Ore, who rushed for 1,137 yards a year ago, has only 370 this season and has yet to eclipse the 100-yard mark. In fact, he has been held to fewer than 40 yards in three of the past four games. The Hokies' running game will get a boost if elusive freshman QB Tyrod Taylor has sufficiently recovered from a sprained ankle that forced him out of the Oct. 13 victory over Duke. Boston College leads the nation in run defense and is allowing an average of fewer than 2 yards per carry. The Eagles haven't allowed an opposing team to rush for more than 69 yards, and no individual has gained more than 64.
Virginia Tech pass offense vs. Boston College pass defense
EDGE: Boston College Backup QB Sean Glennon, a starter last season, replaced the injured Taylor in the Hokies' most recent game a win over Duke and passed for a season-high 258 yards and two touchdowns. Still, Virginia Tech has a pedestrian passing game and averages fewer than 200 passing yards per game. Taylor has completed just over 50 percent of his attempts and has passed for more than 100 yards just once. Boston College has been susceptible to big plays in the passing game. Every opponent has passed for at least 195 yards, and the Eagles gave up a season-high 401 against Bowling Green two games ago. CB DeJuan Tribble has 11 passes defended, including four interceptions, and FS Jamie Silvahas five interceptions. LB Alex Albright has posted six of BC's 18 sacks.
Boston College kicking game vs. Virginia Tech kicking game
EDGE: Virginia Tech Special teams typically are a strength for Virginia Tech, and this season is no exception. Eddie Royal is one of the country's premier punt-return specialists, K Jud Dunlevy has missed just one field-goal attempt and has 50-yard range and the Hokies' coverage teams are effective. Boston College is average on returns and coverage. K Steve Aponavicius is reliable inside 30 yards, but his accuracy is questionable beyond that.
Boston College coaching staff vs. Virginia Tech coaching staff
EDGE: Virginia Tech Jeff Jagodzinski is in his first year as a head coach but is making a great first impression. He's aided by the presence of defensive coordinator Frank Spaziani, who typically fields a strong unit. Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer has 204 career victories and ranks among the winningest active coaches in the country. His teams, which have a penchant for blocking kicks and making big plays on special teams, have posted 14 consecutive winning records. Defensive coordinator Bud Foster's unit led the nation in total defense in each of the past two seasons.
Boston College will win if
The Eagles must protect Ryan so he has time to find holes in Virginia Tech's coverage. That will be enhanced if the Eagles have some rushing success, which figures to be easier with two of the Hokies' linebackers either sidelined or less than 100 percent. If BC can continue its excellent defense against the run, it will cause serious problems for Virginia Tech. The Hokies haven't shown they can pass effectively with any consistency.
Virginia Tech will win if
Preventing big plays in the passing game is a major priority for the Hokies, who have been burned before. They need to pressure Ryan, who does have a tendency to throw interceptions. The Hokies have an advantage on special teams and need to exploit that edge. They also need to run effectively. In 247 games under Beamer, Virginia Tech is 142-27-2 when outrushing its opponent and 19-56 when being outrushed.
X-factor
No team seems to capitalize on special teams more than Virginia Tech, which can compensate for deficiencies elsewhere with excellent play in the kicking game. The Hokies have returned a kickoff and two punts for touchdowns this season, and also have blocked a punt. Tech also has returned three interceptions for touchdowns this season. Also, few home-field advantages are more pronounced than Virginia Tech's at Lane Stadium, where the Hokies are 8-1 on Thursday night.
The picks
Buchanan's pick: Boston College 27-20
Other Rivals.com expert picks:
Mike Huguenin, college sports editor: Virginia Tech 20-17
Steve Megargee, national college football writer: Virginia Tech 20-17
Check out the rest of the Rivals.com Expert Picks.

Olin Buchanan is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at obuchanan@rivals.com.



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