Virginia Tech needs a boost after two straight unexpected losses and could get a big one when they host North Carolina State on Friday night in an ACC contest. Quarterback Michael Brewer, who suffered a broken collarbone in the opener against No. 1 Ohio State, was cleared to practice Monday as the Hokies began preparing to host the Wolfpack for the first time since 2009.
Brewer, who was 11-for-16 against Ohio State before going down, likely will be a game-time decision when Virginia Tech goes for its fourth straight win in the series. N.C. State is coming off its first loss of the season — a 20-13 defeat against Louisville at home — and has dropped eight of its last 10 ACC road games. Wolfpack quarterback Jacoby Brissett has not thrown an interception in his last 34 quarters of action and will go against a defense that boasts 12 takeaways. The key may be who can get their ground game going, after Virginia Tech managed only nine yards rushing last week in a 17-13 loss to Pittsburgh and N.C. State had 45 in 30 carries.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, ESPN.
LINE HISTORY: Books opened the Hokies as 1.5-point home faves, but that’s moved to -2. The total opened at 51 but has come down to 46.5.
North Carolina State
G Alex Barr (Questionable, ankle), G Bryce Kennedy (Questionable, concussion), RB Johnny Frasier (Questionable, ankle).
QB Michael Brewer (Probable, shoulder), DT Corey Marshall (Questionable, hamstring), LB Sean Huelskamp (Questionable, suspension), RB Marshawn Williams (Out for season, knee), CB Kendall Fuller (Out for season, knee), RB Shai McKenzie (Out for season, knee), CB Shawn Payne (Out indefinitely, personal).
WEATHER: Temperatures are expected to be in the mid-60s with a 61 percent chance of rain showers. Wind will blow across the field at around five miles per hour.
WHAT CAPPERS SAY: “Virginia Tech enters this game off back-to-back SU losses as a favorite. The same situation occurred last year when Tech started the season 2-0 SU after beating Ohio State on the road. Tech then went on a 2-5 SU (1-6 ATS) slide afterwards. It will be interesting to see if the Hokies experience another mid-season slump this year… or if they can turn things around at home for this national TV Friday night game.” Covers Expert Steve Merril.
ABOUT N.C. STATE (4-1 SU, 4-1 ATS, 2-3 O/U): Running back Matthew Dayes was held to 68 yards last week after producing at least 100 in the first four games this season and has registered 10 touchdowns overall. Brissett has completed 73.2 percent of his passes, including seven TD strikes, and tight end Jaylen Samuels is the top target (25 catches, 300 yards, four TDs). The Wolfpack are third in the nation in total defense (225.8 yards per game), buoyed by a strong non-league performance, but allowed 306 last week – 203 on the ground.
ABOUT VIRGINIA TECH (2-3 SU, 2-3 ATS, 4-1 O/U): Brenden Motley has thrown for 861 yards and completed 57.1 percent of his passes with seven TD tosses and five interceptions since replacing Brewer. The bigger problem is the Hokies’ ground attack, which was throttled in a 17-13 loss to Pittsburgh last week with leading rusher Travon McMillian held to 14 yards. Isaiah Ford is the top receiver with 24 receptions for 382 yards (two, 21 last week), and Motley or Brewer needs better protection to find him after the Hokies surrendered seven sacks last Saturday.
* Under is 8-0 in Hokies last eight games in October.
* Wolfpack are 6-0 ATS in their last six road games.
* Under is 5-1 in Wolfpack last six vs. a team with a losing record.
* Hokies are 1-4 ATS in their last five games in October.
COVERS CONSENSUS: Fifty-eight percent of Covers users are backing the Hokies.