Can the Hokies surprise Alabama?
The ABC Saturday night college football schedule starts out with a doozy of a game between Alabama and Virginia Tech, a pair of top 10 teams in most polls. The Crimson Tide come off their best season in many years, as they started 12-0 in 2008 before dropping their final two games. They are a 6-point favorite over a Hokies’ team that is expected to reign over the ACC in ’09.
Nearly two-thirds of bettors at Sportsbook.com like ‘Bama’s chances of getting it done on the number.
Alabama played in the SEC title game and made a BCS bowl game, are greater things on the horizon for Nick Saban’s (19-8, 12-13-1 ATS) third year in Tuscaloosa? It depends and the answer won’t really be known until later in the season. Where the tricky part is the offense, junior Greg McElroy has waited his turn and is now the big man on campus for the Crimson Tide. McElroy has professed to be ready and sophomore sensation Julio Jones will be one of his favorite targets to pass to. The offensive line has to be reworked with three outstanding starters gone and running back Glen Coffee leaving early. On defense, there are zero question marks with nine starters back and improving depth in support. All-American nose tackle Terrance “Mount” Cody is poised for a colossal campaign and is reportedly leaner and meaner than ever. Rolando McClain is a headache at linebacker and the secondary has aggressive ball-hawks. The Tide have won last five of six as favorites.
Does it seem possible that Virginia Tech was ever bad under coach Frank Beamer? You have to go back to 1992 to find the last losing season in Blacksburg. The Hokies have won 10 or more games eight times in the last decade including five in a row (38-24-1 ATS). With 14 starters back in the fold, this opening game could determine if Virginia Tech is national contender or one of the best in the ACC. Junior Tyrod Taylor in the undisputed leader of the offense. He’s worked diligently to become better passer and expects to see the results. With Darren Evans out with an ACL tear an unproven yet versatile running core will have to step up, running behind an offensive line that came into its own late last season.
Jason Worilds might be just 6’2 240 pound defensive end; however he’s up field before the tackle is even out of his stance pressuring the quarterback, leading another stern Hokies defense.
The Hokies are 12-4 ATS in their first road game of the season.
Odds-makers have made their case about this matchup. Bama opened as a six-point choice despite a new quarterback and just four returning offensive starters. That speaks volumes about what they think about the difference between SEC and ACC. This is a special opening matchup and Virginia Tech is 17-6 ATS in September road encounters. The Tide is 16-1 SU in opening tilts since 1992, but just 5-10 ATS during that time.
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