- David M. Hale, College football
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If you’re the type of person to lay a few bucks out on college football games, it’s never too early to start looking at the Week 1 betting lines, and as NBC Sports points out, the defending national champions are getting a lot of love for the opener already.
Never mind that Virginia Tech pulled the upset at Ohio State last year, because Las Vegas doesn’t think it will happen again. According to the 5Dimes sports book, the Buckeyes are 20.5-point favorites. Yikes.
That’s not to say we’re eager to throw down our life savings on the Hokies, but consider:
Virginia Tech won in Columbus last year by two touchdowns.
On the road a year ago, the Hokies were just a 10-point underdog.
Virginia Tech returns virtually every key player on a defense that utterly baffled Ohio State a year ago.
Virginia Tech’s offense almost certainly has to be better this year, with Michael Brewer being one of the big reasons why.
Virginia Tech has lost just one game at home by 20 points or more in the last decade.
Virginia Tech has been a double-digit dog in Blacksburg just three times in the last 25 years -- and never by a line close to this big.
In fairness, Ohio State projects to be very good again, and last year’s Virginia Tech win was as much about the Buckeyes’ lack of pass blocking and young quarterback as anything. Those won’t be serious issues again in 2015.
And it’s also worth remembering that Vegas simply responds to betting trends, which don’t necessarily reflect the realities on the field. Virginia Tech opened the 2013 season against the defending national champion, too -- as a 21.5-point dog on the road. The Hokies failed to cover that one, though they did hold Alabama to its second-fewest yards of the Nick Saban era.
But still, three touchdowns is a lot for a team that boasts one of the best defenses in the country against a team that it beat on the road just a year ago. Though the Hokies’ win against Ohio State last year was considered a major upset -- and their subsequent loss to Wake Forest only exaggerated that perception -- the fact remains that coordinator Bud Foster’s defense presents major matchup problems, and Ohio State’s defense was far from dominant.
It certainly won’t be surprising if that line moves quite a bit in the four months between now and game day. But if you’re a Hokies believer, it might be a good idea to start saving up some cash for a trip to Vegas now.
Virginia Tech wrapped up its spring over the weekend, and the Roanoke Times has the recap.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch says Virginia Tech’s offense looked much improved this spring.
The Washington Post says the offensive line’s stability is the key for the Hokies’ improvement.
Defensive lineman Vinny Mahota took a big step forward this spring, writes The Key Play.
Some oddsmakers have visiting Ohio State as a 20.5-point favorite in the season opener.