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Old 08-25-2002, 02:33 AM   #1
ProInfoSports
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Default Ark State @ V Tech info/analysis/selection

SELECTION: ARKANSAS STATE +37 over Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech kicks off their 2002 season when they take on the Arkansas State Indians at Lane Field in Blacksburg in the third annual Hispanic College Fund Football Classic. The Hokies jumped out to a 5-0 start last season in large part because of a weak early schedule. While back-to-back losses to Syracuse and Pittsburgh knocked Tech out of the National Championship race, the 8-4 overall finish was good enough for head coach Frank Beamer's ninth straight bowl appearance.

This season was thrown into jeopardy in the spring when starting quarterback Grant Noel tore the ACL in his left knee. Instead of surgery, the quarterback opted for rehab and appears to be ready to start the season. The passing attack will simply be asked to provide some help to the Hokie running game, which could prove to be the nation's most lethal. Lee Suggs earned 2000 Big East Offensive Player of the Year honors and appears to be back to his old form after missing all of last year to injury. In his absence, freshman Kevin Jones was the league's top rookie after gaining 957 yards in 2001. The duo should split time in the backfield, giving the Hokies a fresh tailback at any point in the game. The Tech defense has the task of replacing six starters on this side of the ball, including the top five tacklers from last year.

Arkansas State had a difficult season in 2001, finishing the year with a 2-9 record overall and just 2-4 in the Sun Belt Conference. Head coach Joe Hollis was replaced by Steve Roberts, formerly of I-AA's Northwestern State. Coach Robert's first order of business is to revamp last season's weak offense. WR James Hickenbotham is back and we expect to see some excitement from him at the RB and KR positions as well. The most promising aspects of the team are the lines, as all five starters are back on offense, including Lombardi Award candidate Garry Johnson, and they will be fielding their strongest defensive line ever.

The Indians could be a pleasant surprise this season and we see value in this huge point spread. Arkansas State is 7-2 ATS in season openers, and while we expect the Hokies to score plenty of points, Arkansas State is still 5-2 ATS even when allowing 28+. Tech will have no problem with the Indians and no doubt will be looking ahead to next week's huge home game vs. LSU. Look for a very "vanilla" game plan from the Hokies and to give their starters plenty of rest in the Virginia heat and humidity, so as to be fresh for next Sunday's big game. V-Tech is obviously not taking the Indians seriously as Coach Frank Beamer has had to shake his team up a bit to grab their attention, announcing that three players have been suspended due to violations of team rules. Ronyell Whitaker, Terrell Parham and Lamar Cobb will all miss the game. The Hokies are just 1-3 ATS in their last 4 tries as a favorite of 30+ points and we see no reason for them expend the extra energy for a cover in this one.

FINAL SCORE: Virginia Tech 38 Arkansas State 10

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Old 08-25-2002, 10:26 AM   #2
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VTech is going to destroy Arkansas State. Suggs and Jones might get 350 yards rushing between them.
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