Virginia Tech vs. Boise State not only has national championship implications, but it is a good match-up of computer vs. eye test.
AccuScore has Boise State as a three-point favorite vs. Virginia Tech and each team showed positive returns last season in against the spread forecasts (15-9). AccuScore measures home field advantage to be worth four-points in college football, but because the game is technically a neutral site, we simulated the game as such. Despite the game not being played on campus, it’s important to note that Boise State will take a long flight while Virginia Tech only has a short bus ride.
We simulate this game to be close, which puts an extra emphasis on turnovers. Boise State commits fewer turnovers in 37% of simulations and they go on to win 70% when they take care of the ball. Virginia Tech wins 56% of the simulations in which they commit fewer turnovers.
AccuScore uses an entire season’s worth of statistics to forecast upcoming games, and that lends itself to Boise State. The Broncos did not lose a game last year and their stats reflect it. The million-dollar question is, “would Boise State be as successful if they played in an BCS Conference?” Virginia Tech’s stats suffer because they played a much higher level of competition, and those stats are factored into our game simulations.
They eye test tells a different and more compelling story for this game. Virginia Tech is loaded on offense, with a running attack that should expose Boise State’s interior defense. Last season, Boise State gave up 320 yards rushing against Fresno State, their one regular season game against a team that runs the ball. Hokie running back, Ryan Williams is averaging 105 rushing yards per simulation. If he can have a great game with better than average rushing yards and at least a 1 rushing TD (36% chance) then he helps his team win 56%.
Virginia Tech also showcases Tyrod Taylor that will put added pressure on the Boise State defense. This stands out because Virginia Tech will have a notable size advantage with their offensive line, and a multi-tiered running attack that the Broncos are not accustomed to.
Boise State’s offense should not be as efficient against Virginia Tech as they are in the WAC. Lost in the bizarre story lines of last year’s opener vs. Oregon, the Boise State offense was efficient, but not dynamic and Moore was sacked two times, forced to scramble five times and threw for less then 200 yards.