- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 26, 2016

No. 25 Virginia Tech (5-2, 3-1 ACC) at Pittsburgh (5-2, 2-1), Thursday 7 p.m. (ESPN)

Line: Virginia Tech by 4.

Series record: Virginia Tech leads 8-7.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

A chance to stay in the thick of the three-way race for the ACC Coastal Division title. The winner will at worst stay tied with North Carolina in the loss column by the end of the weekend. The Hokies have the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Tar Heels after whipping North Carolina earlier this month.

KEY MATCHUP

Virginia Tech’s defensive line against Pitt’s offensive line: The Panthers are 20th in the country in rushing and do it in a variety of ways. Pitt can run north-south with James Conner or use Quadree Henderson or Jordan Whitehead in jet sweeps that create space on the edge. The Hokies are 11th against the run, allowing just 103 yards on the ground.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Virginia Tech: QB Jerod Evans leads the ACC in passing efficiency (yes, ahead of Louisville’s Lamar Jackson) and is tied for second in the conference with 22 total touchdowns (19 passing, three rushing). The Panthers have an effective pass rush but haven’t really faced a quarterback as elusive as Evans, who ran for a 98 yards in last week’s win over Miami.

Pittsburgh: Henderson. The sophomore is technically a receiver but the Panthers like to use him in a variety of ways. He’s caught 17 passes for 174 yards but has also run 32 times for 349 yards. Henderson is explosive in the return game. He’s already returned two kickoffs for scores and is averaging 35.9 yards per return, tops in the country.

FACTS & FIGURES

Virginia Tech leads all-time series 8-7. Hokies are 22-9 all-time on Thursday night, though one of the setbacks was a 21-16 defeat at Pitt in 2014. Virginia Tech is averaging 42 points in its five victories. The Hokies collected eight sacks last week against the Hurricanes, the second-highest single game total by a team this season. Pitt senior defensive end Ejuan Price leads the country with nine sacks and half of his 26 tackles this season have been behind the line of scrimmage. The Panthers are 4-0 at home. Pitt last won its first five home games in 2009.


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