NCAA Football: Virginia Tech Hokies vs. West Virginia Mountaineers Preview, Prediction & Odds -- Sept. 18, 2021

by Big Al Staff

Game time: Noon ET, Sept. 18, 2021
Venue: Milan Puskar Stadium, Morgantown, WV
Where to watch: FS1

Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks


DraftKings: WVU -3; O/U 50.5; WVU -145, Virginia Tech +125
BetMGM: WVU -3; O/U 50.5; WVU -149, Virginia Tech +130
Caesars: WVU -3; O/U 50.5; WVU -145, Virginia Tech +125

Season record
No. 15 Virginia Tech: 2-0 (1-0 ACC)
West Virginia: 1-1

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Virginia Tech - West Virginia game preview and analysis


Recent form
Va Tech: won 35-14 vs. Middle Tennessee State on Sept. 11
West Virginia: won 66-0 vs. FCS Long Island on Sept. 11

If you’ve had the Virginia Tech Hokies as a player on the books as of late, good on you. That home cooking has done them well.

Now, for the first time this season, the 15th-ranked Hokies will hit the road. And for the first time in 16 years, Virginia Tech will head to Morgantown with the Black Diamond Trophy on the line against the West Virginia Mountaineers.

The rivalry was a hotbed for Virginia football for over 30 years, meeting every year between 1973-2005. This is only the third time since 2005 that the programs will meet, with Virginia Tech winning seven of the last nine meetings. Virginia Tech won 31-24 in 2017 in Landover, Maryland.

There’s not much to go off of for past experience, but the Hokies come in as slight favorites on the road after a solid start to the season. Virginia Tech is also off a strong start on the books; not only in the form of a shocking win over Sam Howell and the No. 21 North Carolina Tar Heels, but slightly covering -20 on Saturday against the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders.

Things are setting up nicely for Virginia Tech. West Virginia is the Hokies’ lone road opponent until Oct. 30 at Georgia Tech. They’ll have four consecutive home games, including a matchup Oct. 9 against No. 12 Notre Dame to begin conference play.

That’s going to be beneficial for the Virginia Tech defense that has allowed 12 points per game through two contests. Virginia Tech quarterback Braxton Burmeister has been the focal point on offense, totaling 405 yards and three touchdowns through three games. Burmeister struggled to throw on Saturday (14 of 24, 142 yards, 1 TD), but ran for 52 yards on eight carries.

It’s a completely different style of quarterback play in Morgantown, with senior quarterback Jarret Doege as a pure pocket passer. Doege is coming off a 259-yard, three-touchdown performance against Long Island on Saturday. You can’t get any better than throwing a touchdown and two interceptions in Week 1 against the Maryland Terrapins.

The Mountaineers are coming off a relatively easy cover Saturday, covering the -47, but were also favored by 2.5 against Maryland. There’s not much certainty surrounding West Virginia, and with No. 3 Oklahoma on the ledger in Norman next Saturday, the Mountaineers are in need of a good showing.

Prediction


The Hokies are going to need better quarterback play from Burmeister as the season goes on, but with them 5-2 in their last seven as an underdog, we like Virginia Tech in this one as a road dog. We will find out this weekend, however, how good that Hokies defense is. Virginia Tech by 6.

Betting trends


Virginia Tech is 34-56 straight up as a road underdog in its last 90 games.

West Virginia is 11-25 against the spread against ACC teams in their last 36 games.

The under is 6-1 in West Virginia’s last seven games when the Mountaineers have been home favorites by three points or less.

Players to watch


Virginia Tech: This is likely a game to see what the Hokies’ running backs are all about. Jalen Holston and Raheem Blackshear have three of the five rushing touchdowns for Virginia Tech, combining for 149 yards. Being the first road game, the Virginia Tech backfield will need to flourish if that side of the ball wants to be effective.

West Virginia: Sam James is WVU’s top playmaker, catching eight passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns through two games. Sean Ryan is more the big-play receiver (team-high 125 yards), but James will be the one relied upon for the tough yards on third down.

Statistical leaders


Virginia Tech:
Passing: Braxton Burmeister -- 311 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Braxton Burmeister -- 94 yards, 1 TD
Receiving: Tre Turner -- 131 yards
Defense: TyJuan Garbutt -- 2 sacks

West Virginia:
Passing: Jarret Doege -- 536 yards, 4 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Leddie Brown -- 104 yards, 4 TD
Receiving: Sean Ryan -- 125 yards, 1 TD; Sam James -- 120 yards, 2 TD
Defense: Akheem Mesidor -- 11 tackles, 1 sack

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All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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