2011 Virginia Tech Football: North Carolina Game Guide

Virginia Tech Hokies (9-1, 5-1) vs. North Carolina Tar Heels (6-4, 2-4)

Time: 8 p.m. EST
Date: Thursday, Nov. 17, 2011
Place: Blacksburg, Va.
Stadium: Lane Stadium at Worsham Field
(Cap: 66,233, Open: 1965, Field: Bermuda)
TV: ESPN
Radio: VT IMGXM TBASirius TBA
Spread: Virginia Tech -11
Weather: Low of 30, 10% Chance of Rain

North Carolina: The Tar Heels are coming off a bye week after they were beaten 13-0 their last time out against NC State Nov. 5. After starting the season 5-1, the Heels have lost three of their last four games. North Carolina has its own sophomore quarterback in West Springfield's Bryn Renner. In his first year as the starter, Renner is completing 68.3 percent of his passes for 8.2 yards per attempt with 11 touchdowns, seven interceptions and a 150.7 rating in six conference games. In his three road ACC games, Renner has completed 60 percent of his passes for 7.3 ypa with four touchdowns and seven interceptions. The Tar Heels have a very good run defense. In ACC play, the UNC defense has allowed 3.8 ypc, third in the conference.

Trends: Virginia Tech has won nine consecutive games against ACC Coastal opponents, including four in a row at home. Since joining the ACC in 2004, the Hokies are 10-4 in Thursday night games, including 5-2 at home. The Hokies are 2-7 and the Tar Heels are 5-4 ATS against FBS teams this year. North Carolina has lost three consecutive ACC road games after winning five of its previous seven.

History Lesson: Virginia Tech is 17-10-6 all-time against North Carolina, 6-2 under Frank Beamer and 2-1 at Lane Stadium. The teams did not meet between 1946 and the 1997 Gator Bowl. The Hokies won the last meeting, 26-10 last year in Chapel Hill. Tech forced six turnovers and had four sacks in the game on defense and Tyrod Taylor threw for 249 yards and two touchdowns on offense. The last meeting in Lane Stadium was also a Thursday night encounter in 2009, which UNC won 20-17 thanks to a pair of Connor Barth field goals in the last three minutes of the game, the game winner coming as time expired.

What to Expect

  • Expect the Hokies to have more trouble running the football this week than last. Their offensive line and ball carriers were able to impose their will on Georgia Tech's undersized defensive front, but North Carolina's front seven is big and very solid against the run. Last week, the Yellow Jackets' front seven averaged 252 pounds and their defensive line and inside linebackers averaged 267. The Heels' front seven averages 260 pounds and their defensive line and middle linebacker averages 282.
  • Expect Logan Thomas' play to dictate the Hokies' offense. He'll likely need to pick up first downs with his feet again, but he'll also need to take advantage of a UNC pass defense that's in the bottom third in the ACC. UNC is allowing 7.4 ypa in ACC play and ACC QBs have a 130.5 rating against the Heels.
  • Expect the Hokies to be able to pressure Renner. The Tar Heels have allowed 19 sacks in six ACC games this year, the most in the conference in terms of total sacks and sacks per game.
  • Expect red zone percentage to be a big factor in this game. UNC is among the best in the ACC in red zone TD percentage in conference play and is fifth in the league in red zone TD percentage against. The Hokies' offense is eighth on offense and ninth of defense in the same category.

Hokies Win If: They can run the ball and force turnovers.

Tar Heels Win If: They keep pressure off Renner and fare better in the red zone that VT.

Dot-dot-dots: David Wilson had a career-high 175 yards in Virginia Tech's win over Georgia Tech ... Thomas now has eight rushing touchdowns this year, tying the single-season high for a quarterback in Virginia Tech history ... the Hokies have won 11 consecutive games against teams from North Carolina, dating back to their loss to UNC in 2009 ... the Hokies have won 11 consecutive games in November and 11 consecutive home games in November.

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