2018 College Football Pick: #20 Virginia Tech at #19 Florida State
Battle Between ACC Atlantic and Coastal Clubs
The #20 Virginia Tech Hokies play the #19 Florida State Seminoles tonight at 8 p.m. E.T. it is the final game of Week One of the 2018 college football season. The Seminoles come to this game with a dynamic offense and lethal D. The Hokies have some weaknesses on offense, but their defense looks solid upfront and in the D-back spots. FSU has an edge when it comes to special teams, but VT is still highly ranked in that area. Our 2018 college football Virginia Tech plays Florida State pick has the Seminoles favored by 7.0 and the over/under at 55.0.
Virginia Tech Offense vs Seminoles D
A large part of the Hokies offense from 2017 returns. This is a group that averaged 28.2 PPG. Sophomore QB Joshua Jackson (59.6 COMP%, 20 TDs, 9 INTs) had a sound freshman season and a few weeks ago, he was named as the starter. Although not noted for his running capabilities, as he averaged just 2.6 YPA, Jackson did score six rushing TDs last year. Three of his top four pass catchers return, including WR Sean Savoy who had 39 catches and four TDs. Two sophomores, Phil Patterson and Hezekiah Grimsley, may see plenty of action.
The rush attack features junior DeShawn McClease and senior Steven Peoples. McClease averaged 4.9 YPA while rushing for 530 yards. He scored three times. Peoples, who crossed the goal line twice, rushed for 267 yards on 70 carries. The O-line is one of the weaker ones in the ACC. They’re going to have to hold off one of the better frontlines in the conference.
Junior DE Brian Burns and senior DT Demarcus Christmas make a very tough one-two punch. Last season, Burns recorded 48 tackles, 4.5 sacks, and nine TFL. He also had six QBHs and four PBU. Christmas nailed 36 tackles, 1 sack, and 3.5 TFL. He notched two QBHs and four PBU. The LB unit is all new, but it does have quality players. Junior MLB Dontavious Jackson anchors the group that includes two talented starting freshmen, Jaiden Woodbey and DeCalon Brooks. The secondary brings a decent amount of experience, as sophomore FS Stanford Samuels and junior corner Levonta Taylor return. Together they combined for four picks and eight PBU. Senior A.J. Westbrook, who broke up seven passes in 2017, starts at strong safety. The FSU defense allowed 21.2 PPG in 2017.
Florida State Offense vs Hokies Defense
This is an offense that last season scored 27.8 PPG, which was a good seven points less per game than 2016. Junior Deondre Francois missed just about the entire season last year. True freshman James Blackman played well completing 58.2% of his passes for 19 TDs and 11 INTs. Francois is back and ready to go. He’s expected to be a Heisman contender. In either case, the QB spot has experience and depth. Although Auden Tate and his 10 TD receptions are gone, senior WR Nyqwan Murray, who led the team with 40 receptions, while averaging 15.1 YPC and scoring four times, is back. Junior Keith Gavin, who grabbed 27 passes, is also ready to go.
The O-line and running back unit are two of the best around. The Seminole frontline is experienced and deep. Two solid rushers headline at RB with sophomore Cameron Akers, who had 1000-plus yards and seven TDs, leading the way. Akers averaged 5.3 YPA, while Jacques Patrick was good for 5.6 YPA, 748 yards and seven more TDs. These two will be tough to stop.
In 2017, the Hokie D allowed just 14.8 PPG. But they have lost a few of their top performers from last season. The D-line is the best part of this group. Up front, there’s plenty of experience with Trevon Hill, Ricky Walker and Houshun Gaines starting. Together in 2017, the trio amassed 11.5 sacks, 16 TFL, and 15 QBHs. They’ll be joined by talented sophomore Jarrod Hewitt. Overall, the linebacking unit is inexperienced. All starters on that squad are sophomores. On D, this is the most questionable group. Junior rover Reggie Floyd, who took in three picks and posted 72 tackles last season, will anchor a relatively inexperienced secondary.
2018 College Football Virginia Tech Plays Florida State Pick
When it comes down to experience, especially on offense, we have to like the Seminoles. The Hokies have a very sound frontline on D, and their LB and DB units are talented. But there’s little experience on either group and depth is a problem in the linebacking area. The FSU O-line and ground attack are both potent. Our 2018 college football Virginia Tech plays Florida State pick is the Seminoles at home at -7.0. We’re taking the over at 55.0.