Thursday Night Bites: Hokies on a Heel turn
• North Carolina @ No. 9 Virginia Tech, 8:00 p.m. ET (ESPN): With just one loss to then-No. 13 Clemson, the Hokies have by and large rolled every team they were supposed to roll. But there have been some weird close games, namely East Carolina and Duke, and the Tar Heels do have a chance to hamper the Hokies' top 10 ranking, if not their place in the ACC race. So, Tech better not look ahead to next week's possibly division-deciding game with UVA. And while all that's important, it's extremely difficult to take a team seriously that has a transitive loss to Boston College, even if it's had two weeks to prepare. It's a personal weakness of mine.
Other, more sensible reasons why the Hokies should be fine tonight: UNC's No. 1 tailback and best team weapon, Giovani Bernard, will be competing against the No. 13 rushing defense in the FBS. The Tar Heels have been stingy against the run, allowing just over 100 yards on the ground per game themselves, but this year's Hokies have both national No. 3 rusher David Wilson to give them fits and an able outlet in Logan Thomas-to-Danny Coale should they need to lean on the pass. Finally, Tar Heels quarterback Bryn Renner has been a sad-clown sack target all the livelong season, and Tech is averaging over three QB takedowns per game. Tidbit you'll hear the broadcast crew grind into dust tonight: Renner's dad played for Virginia Tech! So he might have a mental edge! Or he might not! Do you think his dad still loves him? Let's ask Craig James!
• No. 22 Southern Miss @ UAB, 8:00 p.m. ET (CBSS): Now, here is a game that promises to be extremely upsetting for Blazers fans. But if they''re really feeling that C-USA East unity spirit, they'll know that the Golden Eagles need a respite, and that the Blazers are it. After a raucous win over pesky Central Florida, Southern Miss can cruise to a division title with ease and rest up for, presumably, Houston in the conference championship game. It's the nation's 16th-ranked scoring offense versus the 113th-ranked scoring defense, on a short week. Just make it quick, Fedora. • Marshall @ Memphis, 8:00 p.m. ET (FSN): There was a review of, I think, the movie Hot Tub Time Machine, back when it was first released, that said something about how the movie's title is really performing a public service. That upon hearing about Hot Tub Time Machine, you could tell immediately whether or not that movie was for you. A 4-6 Conference USA team is playing a 2-8 Conference USA team on a Thursday night. Really, this is all you need know.