by Joe Schwartz
N.C. State tries to play spoiler
N.C. State (4-6, 1-5 ACC) vs. Virginia Tech (7-3, 4-2 ACC)
3:30 p.m., Saturday, Lane Stadium
ESPNU, WRAL 101.5 FM
Key stats … There will be no late-season bowl run this year for Tom O'Brien's club. Clemson's dynamic C.J. Spiller put an end to those hopes last week. Now the Wolfpack travel north to the always hostile Lane Stadium where Frank Beamer's 16th ranked Hokies sit waiting. Virginia Tech is out of the ACC Championship picture thanks to loses to Georgia Tech and UNC, but they still have a New Year's Day bowl to play for. These two teams have squared off only twice since Virginia Tech joined the ACC six years ago, splitting contests in 2004 and 2005.
Virginia Tech will win if … Quarterback Tyrod Taylor continues to play sound football. He should have a field day against a Wolfpack defense that's been absolutely gutted through injury this year and hasn't been able to develop any kind of consistent lineup or play. The Hokies have used a good mix of run and pass this year. They are always a threat in the special teams game, and one big play in that phase could make this road trip difficult for the Wolfpack.
N.C. State will win if … They follow UNC's blueprint. The Tar Heels held the ball for 13 more minutes than Virginia Tech before capitalizing on a late fumble recovery to win the game on a last-second 22-yard field goal. The Wolfpack will need to play a disciplined game and ride Toney Baker and Jamelle Eugene to have a chance of stealing this one.
Players to watch Virginia Tech freshman Ryan Williams leads the conference in rushing with 123.5 yards per game. He needs just 31 yards to set an ACC record for rushing yards by a freshman.
On the other side of the ball look for Baker, who was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA this week, to run with purpose and power. He was out for two years prior to this season and seems to be really hitting his stride.
Vegas line Virginia Tech -21
Score prediction and brief explanation This showdown of top-tier ACC offenses should be high scoring given N.C. State's defensive woes. The Wolfpack will be down and will need to pass. Still, this one won't get as out of hand as the Vegas line suggests. Hokies 38 Wolfpack 24.