Virginia Tech is starting over. Last season, they agreed to part ways with coach Justin Fuente after some lopsided losses.
Former Penn State DC Brent Pry takes over, and he has some work to do. As Bill Connelly noted in his ACC preview, Virginia Tech’s recruiting has taken a dive. Fuente’s last two classes ranked 62nd and 45th.
Virginia Tech will take the field with QB Grant Wells, a transfer from Marshall. He inherits a run game that was decent last season.
To show this, consider success rate. For an offense, a play is a success if it gains the following fraction of yards towards the next first down:
- 50% on 1st down
- 70% on 2nd down
- 100% on 3rd, 4th down
Research by myself and others have shown this statistic to be more predictive than more typical stats like yards per play.
Last season, Virginia Tech was 47th in my rushing success rate, a quantity adjusted for opponents by my algorithms. However, Wells will have to improve a pass offense that was an awful 101st last season.
On Friday night, Virginia Tech starts the season with a no win situation: at Old Dominion. If they win, they are supposed to beat a Group of 5 opponent that just moved from Conference USA to the Sun Belt. If they lose as a 7.5 point road favorite, well, at least Nebraska would feel better about itself.
Old Dominion has had a turbulent few seasons. Ricky Rahne came over from Penn State in 2020 after serving as the offensive coordinator for James Franklin. He and Pry were on the same staff from 2016 through 2019.
Rahne’s tenure got off to an awful start:
- Old Dominion canceled the 2020 season due to COVID
- Old Dominion started an abysmal 1-6 in 2021 with no wins over FBS opponents.
Then, Old Dominion made the switch to QB Hayden Wolff midway through last season. They won five straight games to make a bowl, a remarkable achievement for Rahne.
During this win streak, Old Dominion had a better passing success rate in only two of five games. Wolff hit on some explosive plays, and research shows that explosive plays have a huge random element.
While Wolff still needs to prove himself, the offense has a high ceiling. Old Dominion should be motivated at home against a Power 5 opponent.
My best numbers, which are available to members of The Power Rank, like Virginia Tech by 4.6 points on the road. This suggests value in Old Dominion +7.5. Don’t be surprised if this spread lands south of a touchdown by kick off.
Football betting with a PhD edge
This article was sent to The Power Rank’s email newsletter at 3pm Eastern on Wednesday, August 31, 2022. The markets have moved towards Old Dominion as of Thursday morning.
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