The #10 North Carolina Tar Heels will travel to Blacksburg, Virginia Friday evening to take on fellow Atlantic Coast Rival, the Virginia Tech Hokies.
The last time these teams met, the game needed six overtimes to determine the winner, which ended up being the Hokies, 43-41. Nearly two years later, the Tar Heels are a top-10 program, while the storied Virginia Tech program is floundering and on the verge of falling into irrelevance.
#10 North Carolina Takes on Virginia Tech in Opening Week Clash
UNC heads into this matchup with a preseason Heisman candidate at quarterback, junior Sam Howell, who threw for 348 yards and five touchdowns in the loss to Tech in 2019. The 6-foot-1 gunslinger is a presumptive top-10 draft pick in next year’s NFL draft and posted impressive numbers last season, finishing fourth in yards (3,586) and sixth in touchdowns (30).
However, the Tar Heels’ shining star will be without a majority of his weapons from last season, including his elite pair of running backs, Michael Carter and Javonte Williams, and favorite deep-ball threat, Dyami Brown. It will be incumbent upon Howell to forge a relationship with his new targets if UNC is to live up to their billing.
The defense is also returning leading sack-man, Tomon Fox, who successfully got to the quarterback seven times during the last campaign. Linebacker Chazz Surratt was selected by the Minnesota Vikings in the 2021 draft, but the team still has enough talent to succeed without their former leader.
Virginia Tech forged a reputation as a perennial powerhouse during the early 2000s under legendary Head Coach Frank Beamer, though they are fresh off of their first losing season since 1992. QB Braxton Burmeister will be under center full-time for the first time since he transferred from the University of Oregon, and he will be surrounded by pass-catchers Tre Turner, Tayvion Robinson, and James Mitchell, the last of which is considered a top-five tight end in college football.
The Hokies’ running game took a hit during the offseason as RB Khalil Herbert and left tackle Christian Darrisaw departed for the NFL and starting offensive lineman Doug Nester transferred to West Virginia. Still, the team showed its worth running the ball last season and will benefit from more regular offseason practices.
VT’s defense is also missing its leader Divine Deablo, now of the Las Vegas Raiders, though they have a talented secondary and intriguing prospect in Amare Barno at defensive end. This unit gave up too many big plays last year but was solid between and will be tasked with cutting down on errors.
North Carolina is a -5.5 (-110) favorite on the road, while VT is a +5.5 (-110) underdog at home; similarly, the Tar Heels are -220 on the Moneyline to the Hokies’ +180.
The points total has been set at 64 with -110 odds on either side.