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Pick 'em: Virginia Tech at No. 23 N.C. State

In theory, picking Virginia Tech to beat No. 23 North Carolina State on the road this weekend should be considered an upset. The Hokies are just .500; the Wolfpack, meanwhile, are undefeated. But if we're going by preseason expectations, this is a game many expected Virginia Tech to win on its way to an ACC title.

That's why I'm having trouble picking a winner for this one. North Carolina State is better than what many predicted; the Wolfpack is healthy again with a linebacker (Nate Irving) and a quarterback (Russell Wilson) who are as good as any players in the conference.

But there are certainly some matchups the Hokies can take advantage of. A week after sacking Boston College six times, Virginia Tech's defensive line gets a chance to strut its stuff against a Wolfpack offensive front that has already given up 14 sacks, the second-worst total in the conference.

The key, though, will be Virginia Tech's offense. I already mentioned Thursday the advantage the Hokies may have in the passing game, but the question that should be on your mind is can they emerge from their red zone malaise? Settling for field goals will not be enough against this Wolfpack offense.

I think they can. Whether you like him or not, offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring has shown a penchant for getting great offensive performances at just the right moment. So even without running back Ryan Williams, I'm picking Virginia Tech ... but not by much.

My prediction: Virginia Tech 30, North Carolina State 27

What do you all think? Does Virginia Tech improve to 2-0 in conference play? Or does North Carolina State rise to the occasion in front of a sold out crowd to cement itself as a serious contender in the ACC this year?

By Mark Giannotto  | October 1, 2010; 8:41 AM ET
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'Stinespring has shown a penchant for getting great offensive performances...'?? Mark, I love your enthusiasm covering the Hokies, but obviously you haven't covered them long enough. I've seen a highly skilled, well-recruited team, year-after-year, get hampered, nearly sabotaged by the incompetent coaching on the offensive side. Only because we've had outstanding talent, we tend to be 'in the game' consistently. (think back to when Vick single-handedly got us to the national championship) I do think however, no matter how hard Stinespring makes it for the offense, we have enough talent and playmakers to have a breakout game. (we've already had a defensive breakout with nearly all new players)

Posted by: HokieSkin | October 1, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Maybe it wasn't clear enough, but my comment wasn't meant to criticize or praise Stinespring. It was my way of expressing that every time the spotlight is focused on him, he seems to have a good game.

Posted by: mgiannotto | October 1, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

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