NCAAF Week 5 Early Picks Include Virginia Tech and North Carolina State

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Top sportsbooks have released their NCAAF odds for this week’s college football action.

After scanning this week’s card, I found two games that are worth investing in now: Virginia Tech vs. North Carolina and NC State vs. Clemson.

For reasons that I will explain, you should play the side for both games.

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Virginia Tech Hokies vs. North Carolina Tar Heels

Saturday, October 1, 2022 – 03:30 PM EDT at Kenan Stadium

North Carolina's Awful Defense 

The awfulness of North Carolina's defense is a feature that perpetually keeps its opponent, at the very least, competitive.

North Carolina ranks seventh-to-last nationally in allowing 44.7 points per game.

Compared with other Power Five teams, UNC's scoring defense is the worst. It's pitifully hard to discern whether the Tar Heels are stronger against the run or the pass.

They rank 128th nationally in allowing 270 rushing yards per game and 99th nationally in limiting opposing passing yards.


Tar Heels' Competition 

While 99th doesn't seem as bad as 128th, teams are able to amass more rushing yards against North Carolina because they can drive downfield simply by handing the ball off.

Plus, North Carolina's pass defense has utterly failed to take advantage of soft competition.

For example, Georgia State's quarterback almost achieved his best passer rating of the season against North Carolina, almost eclipsing that which he accomplished against Charlotte.

Similarly, Florida A&M's quarterback's second-best passer rating came in his team's game against the Tar Heels. He achieved a better passer rating against them than he did against Jackson State and Albany State.


Defensive Coordinator Issues 

In view of the talent on UNC's roster, it seems to me that North Carolina's defensive coordinator, Gene Chizik, is responsible for the problems on defense.

Over and over again, the Tar Heels present similarly soft coverage.

This soft coverage explains why two key facts that Virginia Tech will be primed to exploit: the Tar Heels rank 120th nationally at limiting opposing pass completion percentage and 97th nationally in sack rate.


Grant Wells

Some have complained that Virginia Tech quarterback Grant Wells lacks the ability to go through his progressions.

While he has stared down receivers, he ably went through progressions especially in his game against Wofford when, aided by a quick-passing concept, he didn't have to worry about opposing pressure.

Moreover, others have complained that he tries too often to thread the needle. I see this as a strength: Wells has solid arm talent, which enables him to fit passes into tight windows.

He suffers from departed Hokie wide receivers leaving a less talented group of guys who are less able to get open.

What to Expect

North Carolina's pass defense, though, easily leaves opposing wide receivers open as a result of its perpetual soft coverage. Plus, the Tar Heels rarely bring sufficient pressure to bother quarterbacks.


Hokies' Run Game 

Especially when the Tar Heels field extra defensive backs, opponents are able to run the ball down their throats.

Know for your Best Bets that this ability is what the Hokies want to maximize with their smashmouth concept.

Aided by the elusive Keshawn King with his big plays and evident in Jalen Holston's effort against Wofford, Hokie running backs have the ability to outweigh the inexperience of their offensive line to have big games against softer competition.


Tar Heels' Offense vs. Hokies' Defense 

Virginia Tech coach Brent Pry is known for his defenses, so Virginia Tech is generally a team worth investing in when its offense looks reliable. Nevertheless, one may still wonder whether Virginia Tech is a good underdog side because of its defense's performance against West Virginia.

But the Mountaineers thrived on the ground because the Hokie offense could not stay on the field, the Hokies possessed the ball for 21:16 in that game. Offensively, North Carolina also poses a softer test in crucial respects.

Previously aided by soft competition against Notre Dame, the Tar Heel offensive line resumed its problematic play of last year after losing three guys in the offseason.

The unreliability of North Carolina's offensive line plus Virginia Tech's expectedly massive improvement in time of possession will ensure strong success against the run from the Hokie defense even if its safeties once again remain relatively distant from the line of scrimmage.

NCAAF Pick: Virginia Tech +9 (-108) at Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports Review)

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Virginia Tech +9 (-108)
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North Carolina State Wolfpack vs. Clemson Tigers

Saturday, October 1, 2022 - 07:30 PM EDT at Memorial Stadium

Clemson's Shaky Pass Defense 

The Tigers induced Wake Forest to run a lot in the latest stages of their game because they devoted more effort to shoring up their secondary.

One could not have otherwise expected Wake Forest of all teams to run so well on Clemson's formidable front.

It's crucial for a Tiger opponent's chances that its quarterback can achieve the same respect that Wake Forest's did.

Strong-armed and efficient Devin Leary is just the guy. He is one of the ACC's top quarterbacks as evident in his four-touchdown, zero interception game, no less, against Clemson last season.


Can Clemson's Offense Keep Pace?

Clemson held off Wake Forest largely by overpowering the Demon Deacons on the ground, which is what the Tigers did to them last year and which was a tremendous aspect of their offensive improvement last year.

Defensive line is an annual strength at NC State under Dave Doeren, and, accordingly, the Wolfpack rank 19th nationally in run defense.

NC State's run defense will create unwelcome pressure to a quarterback in Clemson's DJ Uiagalelei who repeatedly struggles to complete 60% of his passes especially when he lacks run support.

With your NCAAF Picks, expect Clemson to be on upset alert.

NCAAF Pick: North Carolina State +7 (-117) at Bookmaker (visit our Bookmaker Review)

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North Carolina State +7 (-117)
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