One of the two ACC marquee matchups for the weekend as eighth-ranked North Carolina football collides with No. 19 Virginia Tech.
There was speculation how these two teams would begin their 2020 season, after having cancellations and bye weeks in between games. For North Carolina, they were off for an entire three weeks, prior to their game last week with Boston College.
For Virginia Tech, they didn’t start their season until Week 3, when they had beat North Carolina State. However, last week’s results shows what direction, each team could be going in.
For North Carolina, they went back and forth with a much improved Boston College team. Sam Howell would throw for two touchdowns and would hold the Golden Eagles to just a touchdown in the second half.
That touchdown would occur with less than a minute to go in the game. Going for two, Phil Jurkovec’s pass would jumped and taken the other way for two points by Trey Morrison. Rare is there a defensive conversation, even more so when that’s the near ending of a game.
North Carolina hasn’t looked dominate through their first two games. It can be a good thing for the Tar Heels, as great teams know how to win the close games.
To say that Virginia Tech struggled last week would be an understatement. Duke had sniffed 20 points once through their first three contests and scored 17 points in just the fourth quarter alone. A continuous bright spot for the Hokies has been the elite play of Khalil Herbert.
The Kansas transfer has broken through in this new system, and gashed the Blue Devils. He rushed for 208 yards and two touchdowns on a solid 20 carries.
This contest last season went to double overtime, with a thrilling finish. Quincy Patterson II ran it in to cap off a 43-41 win for the Hokies. In a game that featured, a passing touchdown from three different Virginia Tech quarterbacks and Howell throwing for five himself.
Here’s how you can watch the game between the Tar Heels and Hokies:
Date:Saturday, Oct. 10
Time: 12 p.m. ET
Venue: Kenan Memorial Stadium
Keys to a Victory
For North Carolina, you have to contain Herbert. It’s understandable now why he wasn’t getting as much attention at Kansas with Pooka Williams getting part of the load. Herbert gives you an explosion no one else on this Hokies team possess.
His shiftiness and ability to find holes is going to make him an issue. With the uncertainty at quarterback of who exactly is going to get majority of the snaps, Herbert is the clear threat that needs to be contained.
For Virginia Tech, applying pressure to Howell is going to be so crucial. So far this season, it hasn’t been too much of an issue for the Hokies. They’ve collected 13 sacks in just two games. Although Duke and NC State’s offensive lines aren’t world-beaters.
However, for the Hokies, facing Howell and one of the better offensive lines in the conference could be a tall task. The line has not been up to par so far, giving up six sacks in the span of just two games.
For Virginia Tech to pull off the upset, getting to Howell early and often, will be the main factor.
Regardless of their ranking, neither team has looked truly outstanding so far. This should be a really good test for two teams that are in similar stature, when it comes to the ranks of the ACC.
North Carolina’s perimeter talent is still unique, and possibly on par, if not better than Clemson’s at times.
When it comes to the end, Howell’s arm talent and a big play from the defense will determine the outcome. A game similar to last season’s affair, but with a different ending.
Final Score: North Carolina 31, Virginia Tech 27