Hokies-Tar Heels Football: Who Will Come Out on Top?

Justin CocchiolaCorrespondent ISeptember 18, 2008

After this game on Saturday, everyone should have a pretty good idea of how the rest of the season is going to go for Virginia Tech. Then again, it is Virginia Tech. This program in the past 10 years will look like the best team in the nation one week, and like an average "Gator Bowl"-caliber team the next.

This is obviously a big game for both schools. North Carolina is trying to gain respect in the ACC and on a national basis, and a win over one of the conference's perennial powers is a good place to start. Virginia Tech, on the other hand, is trying to stay competitive with a very young team early in the season.

No matter how I look at this matchup, I see a good game panning out. The Hokies will try and pound the ball on the ground as the Tar Heels will more than likely air it out for most of the game.

If the Hokie defense is going to have success they will have to take away the passing game from North Carolina. Hakeem Nicks and Brandon Tate are very good receivers, but they will be covered by an All-American-caliber corner in Victor "Macho" Harris and a rising star in Stephan Virgil.

If the Hokies' defensive line can consistently rush the passer this weekend, which they haven't done all year, North Carolina is going to have a hard time moving the ball.

North Carolina has a good running back in Greg Little. He hasn't had a great season so far, but he's a converted wide receiver and a phenomenal athlete. It's only a matter of time before he has a breakout performance. The Hokies need to make sure this doesn't happen to them.

If the defense really wants to succeed this weekend, they will have to force North Carolina to throw the ball, and become one-dimensional. Not to say the pass defense has been great so far this year, but things get easier if you know what's coming.

Offensively, the Hokies are still very weak. Their best offensive player this year has been running back Darren Evans. It's only a matter of time before this guy becomes the starter. Kenny Lewis Jr. has been the starter all year, but has seen limited playing time as Evans gets most of the carries. If Evans has a big day, it should open up the passing game.

Tyrod Taylor is the starter for the remainder of the season. However, Taylor and the coaching staff still aren't confident with his ability to throw the ball. If North Carolina forces Taylor to throw the ball, the Hokies will be in trouble. Taylor has completed 68 percent of his passes this year, but only has 74 yards passing.

In order for Virginia Tech to win the game, it will have to throw the football, and do it well. I'm sure the Hokies will come out trying to run the ball, but 48 yards through the air just will not get it done.

Special teams and defense will once again have to carry the Hokies over their opponent this week, and expect a very, very close game that may come down to the last possession. This game could easily go either way, but I see the Hokies finding a little bit of success through the air.

Hokies 24, Tar Heels 23