Pinstripe Bowl Preview and Prediction

Hokies are back in the bowl season for the first time in two years. Between transfers, opt-outs and Covid protocols the Hokies are down to a skeleton crew. Let’s hope they have enough players to play on Wednesday. The depth at WR and CB is starting to look a bit dicey.

SP+ Rankings

Virginia Tech

Overall: 62nd
Offense: 74th
Defense: 47th
Special Team: 28th

Maryland

Overall: 68th
Offense: 34th
Defense: 86th
Special Team: 122nd

Maryland looks a lot like Virginia. A big-time passing attack led by Taulia Tagovailoa (Tua’s brother). This is not a great game for the Hokies to be without Jermaine Waller. Virginia Tech’s best chance in this game is to stop the run and try to force Tagovailoa into a couple of turnovers.

The Hokies should be able to run the ball against Maryland. They would be wise to run the ball over and over again with Blumrick, Blackshear and Malachi Thomas. Virginia Tech needs to run the ball and control the clock. They do not want to get into a shootout with Maryland. It’s the same gameplan that has worked for the Hokies late in the season. If Tech starts throwing the ball all over the field, then it’s time to worry.

All things being equal Tech has the better team. But after opt outs, transfers and Covid absences, it seems like Maryland will have the better squad. It’s hard to imagine VT winning with their backup QB, backup WRs and backup CBs. This game will look like the 2018 Cincinnati bowl game and 2019 Kentucky bowl game. A frustrating way to end another frustrating season.

Prediction: Maryland 28, Virginia Tech 17

How did I do with my predictions this year?

I had a better read on this team in the preseason than in my week-to-week picks. My week-to-week picks got too influenced by what a roller coaster this team was. In the preseason, I saw this as a 7-5 team. I ended up picking a 6-6 result in my week-to-week picks but I got SIX of the games wrong. I did okay in my preseason picks. I only missed on the big win against UNC and the two losses at home against Pitt and Syracuse. Maybe next year I’ll stick with my gut on my preseason picks.

Game Preseason PredictionGame Week PredictionActual Outcome
North Carolinahttps://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d7/North_Carolina_Tar_Heels_logo.svg/300px-North_Carolina_Tar_Heels_logo.svg.pngUNC 35 – 21VT 17 – 10
Middle TennesseeThis image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is logo-white.svgVT 34 – 13VT 35 – 14
at West VirginiaWest Virginia Mountaineers - WikipediaVT 23 – 20WVU 27 – 21
RichmondThis image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is logo-white.svgVT 35 – 7 VT 21 – 10
Notre DameNotre Dame Fighting Irish - WikipediaND 23 – 17ND 32 – 29
PittsburghThis image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is logo-white.svgPitt 31 – 17Pitt 28 – 7
SyracuseThis image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is logo-white.svgCuse 24 – 21Cuse 41 – 36
at Georgia TechThis image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is logo-white.svg GT 28 – 21VT 26 – 17
at Boston CollegeBoston College Eagles - WikipediaVT 28 – BC 10BC 17 – 3
DukeThis image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is logo-white.svgVT 35 – 13VT 48 – 17
at MiamiMiami Hurricanes - WikipediaVT 33 – 30Miami 38 – 26
at VirginiaThis image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is logo-white.svgUVA 38 – 35VT 29 – 24

Virginia vs Virginia Tech Preview and Prediction

This game feels like it has consequences beyond bragging rights almost every year. This year the Hokies will need to get a win to become bowl eligible. The bowl streak ended last year, so making a lower tier bowl game wouldn’t be a huge accomplishment. But it might be a nice reward for the players who have kept fighting all season.

SP+ Rankings

Virginia Tech

Overall: 57th
Offense: 73rd
Defense: 39th
Special Team: 38th

Virginia

Overall: 46th
Offense: 7th
Defense: 92nd
Special Team: 75th

Virginia has an elite passing offense. They rank 2nd in the nation in passing offense. Brennan Armstrong ranks 2nd in the nation in passing yards per game and 1st in the nation in total offense. If Virginia Tech is not at their best defending the pass, they could get lit up by this Virginia offense.

Virginia has one of the worst defenses the Hokies will face this season. They are about as bad as Duke’s defense. If the Hokies hope to win this game, they must run the ball, control the clock and keep the score low. If this turns into a shootout, the Wahoos are more likely to win. Ball control is the name of the game this week.

These rivalry games are tough to predict. As we know from previous years, throw out the records when these teams play. This game is about pride and bragging rights. Virginia is playing well on offense now that Brennan Armstrong is back. The Hokies will need to play their A-game on defense to keep the Wahoos from lighting up the scoreboard. If the Hokies can control the clock, they will be able to keep the game close. It’ll be a close game but the ‘Hoos win it late in the 4th quarter.

Prediction: Virginia 35, Virginia Tech 28

Hate Week Q&A with @HoosFootball

This week’s guest is @HoosFootball. You can follow him on Twitter and visit his website with tons of photos and historical data on UVA football at HoosFootball.com.

Tell us about your team this year. Has the season gone as you expected?

I had us at 7-4 at this point, so record-wise we’re pretty close to what I expected. But the way we’ve gotten here has been a surprise. I was concerned that our offense might lack explosiveness compared to last season after we lost Lavel Davis to a knee injury, but I thought we’d make up for that by being better on defense, particularly in the secondary. So I was wrong about pretty much everything.

What’s the status of Brennan Armstrong?

I thought the coaches might hold Armstrong out against Pitt to make sure he was ready for the Tech game, but he was a full go last week. I thought he looked great against Pitt and I’m not aware of any setbacks, so I expect the Brennan Armstrong Aerial Circus to be in full effect.

What are your thoughts on Bronco?

I thought Coach Mendenhall was a great hire in 2015 and I still think that today. He has a clear vision of what he wants his program to look like and has shown that he can win consistently at a school with high academic standards. He is also very good at identifying and developing talent when it comes to his coaching staff, as evidenced by the fact that he has several position coaches – Jason Beck, Marques Hagans, and Garett Tujague, to name a few – who are among the best in the country. And on a personal level, he has created an environment that fosters loyalty and trust within the program. That’s not to suggest there isn’t room for improvement. We need to do a better job recruiting in-state, the 757 in particular. Also, I think there is a perception that Mendenhall can be loyal to a fault when it comes to his staff. It will be interesting to see what changes, if any, he makes on the defensive side of the ball this offseason.

What are your thoughts on the current state of the rivalry?

I’m not gonna lie, losing 16 of the last 17 has been… sub-optimal. It has also made the back and forth between our fan bases stale and predictable. You mock us for only beating you once since 2003, we mock you for never winning a natty, blah blah blah. If you’re going to talk trash, at least have the courtesy to be creative and mean-spirited.

Who do you think Virginia Tech’s next coach will be?

Let me preface my response by saying the Justin Fuente era was truly magical, both on the field and on Twitter. I miss him already. I’d love it if you guys hired a dumpster fire like Hugh Freeze or Bobby Petrino, but unfortunately I don’t see that happening. I’ve been hearing Napier’s name quite a bit lately.

What is your favorite memory from the rivalry?

For the 1998 game, my wife (then girlfriend) and I were down in South Carolina for the wedding of one of her college friends. I think the game started around noon and the wedding was scheduled for like 3:30, but the venue was kind of a haul so I was pretty sure I wouldn’t get to watch the whole game. That seemed like a blessing when we went into halftime down 29-7, but then we started chipping away at the lead. Right when we were about to leave for the wedding, Thomas Jones scored to cut Tech’s lead to 32-29. I stood up to turn off the TV, and my wife said, “Screw that, we’re watching this till the end.” Shortly thereafter, Ahmad Hawkins capped off the historic comeback, and my wife and I slid into the back row of the church about 30 seconds before the ceremony ended. Oh, and later that evening at the reception I saw the groom throw up in a urinal. The whole day was awesome and almost made up for the fact that my wife caused me to miss our 1995 win over FSU because she got us tickets to see Carrot Top.

What’s your prediction for the game?

38-35 ‘Hoos.

Miami vs Virginia Tech Preview and Prediction

It was the right decision to let Justin Fuente go. The timing was strange but I’m sure there were reasons for that. Maybe the job needed to be open to have serious conversations with interested coaches. The Fuente era started with a lot of promise but lost momentum and finally reached the point of no return.

SP+ Rankings

Virginia Tech

Overall: 44th
Offense: 67th
Defense: 25th
Special Team: 32nd

Miami

Overall: 32nd
Offense: 22nd
Defense: 47th
Special Team: 50th

Miami is a good passing team. They are 16th in the nation in passing offense. Tyler Van Dyke has been good for the Hurricanes. He’s thrown for over 2,000 yards, 19 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. The Hokies boast the nation’s 15th ranked passing defense. So it should be strength vs strength when Miami is on offense.

Miami’s run defense has been a bit leaky in recent weeks. The Hokies would be smart to keep the ball on the ground with Malachi Thomas and Raheem Blackshear. Tackling has been an issue for Miami this year, so VT would be smart to test them early and often in that area.

There may be some extra juice from the players to play under former VT player JC Price. They still have the opportunity to make a bowl game and the seniors will want to close the season strong. They don’t want to be the team that got their coach fired. So while this season has been up and down, I think we see some fight from these guys in the last two regular season games.

Prediction: Virginia Tech 33, Miami 30

Duke vs Virginia Tech Preview and Prediction

Virginia Tech had a chance to get back in position for a bowl game but couldn’t get it done. As soon as Braxton Burmeister went out, the Hokies offense couldn’t get going. They have three more opportunities to get two wins to qualify for a bowl. Their best remaining opportunity is this Saturday at home against Duke.

SP+ Rankings

Virginia Tech

Overall: 50th
Offense: 70th
Defense: 32nd
Special Team: 37th

Duke

Overall: 97th
Offense: 89th
Defense: 102nd
Special Team: 97th

The Duke offense moves the ball well but they struggle to score in the red zone. This is a balanced offense. They run and throw the ball well but they tend to stall the closer they get to the red zone. The Hokies need to be able to stop drives and hold the Blue Devils to field goals.

The Duke defense may be the worst defense that Virginia Tech faces this year. Virginia Tech should be able to run the ball with Malachi Thomas and Raheem Blackshear. The question is who is going to play quarterback? Will Braxton be back? Will they go back to Kadum? Will Connor Blumrick be back from injury? If the Hokies can find a quarterback that can complete passes, they have a good chance to win.

This is a tough game to predict without knowing who will play quarterback for Virginia Tech. If the Hokies have Burmeister back, I like their chances. If he’s not back, I’m not so sure. Either way, I think Virginia Tech has more talent across the board than Duke. I’m also thinking that Virginia Tech will want to win on Senior Day. I think they find a way to get it done.

Prediction: Virginia Tech 35, Duke 13

Boston College vs Virginia Tech Preview and Prediction

I give the Hokies a lot of credit for getting off the mat against Georgia Tech. They had a couple of crushing losses going into that game, so picking up a win on the road is no small task. It also bodes well for their chances at a bowl and their chances to pick up a couple more wins in the last 4 games.

SP+ Rankings

Virginia Tech

Overall: 39th
Offense: 57th
Defense: 32nd
Special Teams: 53rd

Boston College

Overall: 68th
Offense: 53rd
Defense: 68th
Special Teams: 50th

Boston College has been BAD on offense since they lost Phil Jurkovec. They are averaging 10 points per game in conference games this year. Yikes. That makes VT’s offense look explosive. Boston College would be smart to keep the ball on the ground against Virginia Tech’s defense. They have had some success running the ball. Trying to throw against VT’s secondary wouldn’t go well for them. Without Jurkovec, that seems like the only gameplan that might work to get any sort of offense going.

Virginia Tech needs to run the ball early and often. The Hokies can’t get cute on offense. They need to line up and run the ball right at BC’s defense. The Eagles rush defense is suspect. This isn’t the game for the Hokies to be tossing the ball all over the field. They can have a lot of success by keeping the ball on the ground and grinding out yards. Malachi Thomas and Raheem Blackshear need to play big roles in this game.

This seems like a good matchup for the Hokies. I worry a little about an empty stadium on a cold Friday night in Boston. But all things being equal, the Hokies have the better team. The key factors for the Hokies will be stopping the run and being able to establish the run game. If they can do both those things, they should be able to come out of Boston with a comfortable win.

Prediction: Virginia Tech 28, Boston College 10

Georgia Tech vs. Virginia Tech Preview and Prediction

The Hokies have put themselves in position to win. But they can’t seem to close the deal. Last week, the offense finally showed up but the defense didn’t. At some point, both sides of the ball will show up and the Hokies will put another win on the board. The prospects of a bowl game are starting to look dicey.

SP+ Rankings

Virginia Tech

Overall: 43rd
Offense: 57th
Defense: 38th
Special Teams: 57th

Georgia Tech

Overall: 50th
Offense: 47th
Defense: 50th
Special Teams: 94th

Georgia Tech is a solid offensive team. The throw and run the ball well. Like Syracuse, they are a team that creates running plays from their quarterback and running backs. A running QB gave the Hokies a lot of trouble last week. This is an area that has given the Hokies a lot of trouble for years now. The Hokies need to do a better job of spying the quarterback if they hope to slow down Georgia Tech’s offense.

The Yellow Jackets are not a good defensive team. This is a team the Hokies should be able to put up some yards on. Virginia Tech would be smart to lean on a similar gameplan to last week’s. Run the ball. Get Malachi Thomas involved and not force the issue in the pass game. There should be some space this week for the offense to operate. Georgia Tech’s defense looks like a better matchup for the Hokies than Syracuse did.

This looks like an even matchup. Georgia Tech has a better offense. Virginia Tech has a better defense. In even matchups like this, I like to go with the home team. Virginia Tech is dealing with a lot of internal turmoil and a road trip is not what they need to turn things around. It’ll be a close game. This game will come down to the 4th quarter and like the Notre Dame and Syracuse games, Georgia Tech makes enough plays down the stretch to get the win.

Prediction: Georgia Tech 28, Virginia Tech 21

Syracuse vs. Virginia Tech Preview and Prediction

You can’t win if you can’t score. The Hokies defense put up a solid effort against Pitt. But the offense couldn’t stay on the field and the defense wore out. We’ll continue to see that unless this offense gets any better as the season goes on.

SP+ Rankings

Virginia Tech

Overall: 52nd
Offense: 68th
Defense: 33rd
Special Teams: 88th

Syracuse

Overall: 58th
Offense: 69th
Defense: 40th
Special Teams: 109th

Syracuse runs the ball well. They are one of the best rushing offenses in the country. They have an elite running back in Sean Tucker and a quarterback who can get yards on the ground. This is the type of offense that has given the Hokies trouble in recent years. Expect the Orange to keep the ball on the ground and pound it right at the Hokies defense.

Syracuse defense is bend but don’t break. They give up a lot of completed passes but not a lot of yards. They keep the game in front of them. This is the type of defense that should be able to feast on the Hokies’ offensive approach this season. Virginia Tech will have to take some chances downfield to have success against Syracuse’s defense.

The two defenses are similar but Syracuse does one thing well and that’s run the ball. Last week, my pick was easy Pittsburgh had the better QB. This week, Syracuse has the better running back. Sometimes you don’t have to overthink it. The Hokies will score some points because this isn’t exactly an elite defense. But Syracuse will do enough with their running game to pull out a win. Lou Groza award winner Andre Szmyt for the win.

Prediction: Syracuse 24, Virginia Tech 21

Pittsburgh vs. Virginia Tech Preview and Prediction

The Notre Dame game was a tough pill to swallow. The Hokies were so close to putting that game away but couldn’t make the plays in crunch time. Every year there are going to be close games and those games are the difference between good seasons and great seasons. So far, the Hokies are 1-2 in those games. That needs to improve as the Hokies get into conference play.

SP+ Rankings

Virginia Tech

Overall: 49th
Offense: 50th
Defense: 46th
Special Teams: 56th

Pittsburgh

Overall: 10th
Offense: 9th
Defense: 27th
Special Teams: 15th

Kenny Pickett may be the best QB the Hokies see this season. He may not be the highest pick in the draft but he is putting up the best numbers at the college level. Pickett is one of the best in the nation in passing yards, passing TDs and passing efficiency. Virginia Tech has had trouble over the years with NFL-caliber quarterbacks. Kenny Pickett definitely fits that description. The Hokies defensive backs and linebackers better bring their A-game because Pickett is going to be tough to stop.

The Pitt rushing defense will be able to stop the run and make the Hokies one-dimensional. Tech will have to throw to move the ball against Pitt which means winning battles in one-on-one coverage. Braxton Burmeister is going to have to be able to throw the ball up and hope his receiver comes down with it. So far this year, the Hokies haven’t been winning many of those battles when the ball is in the air. This isn’t a game where the Hokies can afford to be tentative on offense.

Tech should have one of the better pass defenses that Pitt have faced. The Hokies’ secondary matches up pretty well against Pitt’s receivers. But it’s a balanced offense that will be tough to stop. They run the ball well which will set up some opportunities to go downfield to their deep ball threats. This Pitt offense has been a nightmare for opposing defenses because they run and pass the ball so well.

Is this a lost cause? Definitely not. Pittsburgh looked extremely mortal in their loss to Western Michigan. Maybe Pittsburgh will look a little rusty after their bye. Pitt has lost in their last two visits to Lane Stadium. The Hokies looked terrible in 2019 in the Duke game and came back the next week and beat a pretty good Miami team. Weird things happen in college football. On paper, Pitt looks like the better team but anything can happen on any given Saturday in college football.

Prediction: Pittsburgh 31, Virginia Tech 17

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