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

Notre Dame vs. Virginia Tech Preview and Prediction

The Richmond game film is one you throw right in the dumpster. You’re not going to learn anything from it. The Hokies made a bunch of mistakes on offense and squeaked by an FCS team. The takeaway is that the Virginia Tech offense has to execute better. But they knew that after the WVU game. Let’s see if there were any improvements made during the bye week. The offense is what is holding this team back from being a true Coastal contender.

SP+ Rankings

Virginia Tech

Overall: 33rd
Offense: 37th
Defense: 32nd
Special Teams: 89th

Notre Dame

Overall: 20th
Offense: 41st
Defense: 17th
Special Teams: 58th

These teams are mirror images of each other. Good but not great defenses. And pretty ugly offenses. Both teams will struggle to move the ball on Saturday. And if there is rain in the forecast, things could get ugly. Expect Notre Dame to go to their dual-threat QB, Drew Pyne, to try to move the ball on the ground against the Hokies defense.

Virginia Tech can turn the tide of the game with a big turnover. Notre Dame’s offensive line has been struggling this year. If the Hokies can get a turnover by getting in the backfield, that could flip field position and lead to points.

A special teams play could be the difference. Both teams have excellent return teams. A big return could lead to points in a game that will be short on them. Field goals will also be at a premium in this game. As far as the kicking game, you have to give the nod to Notre Dame in this matchup.

Notre Dame dominates the ACC. Notre Dame is 24-1 in their last 25 games against the ACC and they’ve won their last 16 regular season games against ACC teams. These stats alone should make Hokies fans less than confident with the Irish coming to town.

The Hokies have been AWFUL coming out of bye weeks in the last 3 seasons. Three 20+ point blowouts and a close loss assisted by a 98 yard fumble return. This doesn’t give me a lot of confidence that VT will hit their stride coming out of the bye. Notre Dame is a good team and if the Hokies aren’t ready, they’re going to get punched right in the mouth. My initial inclination was to pick Notre Dame in a blowout but I don’t think they have the offensive firepower to blowout the Hokies. Be prepared for a sloppy performance where Notre Dame does enough to win an ugly game in Blacksburg.

Prediction: Notre Dame 23, Virginia Tech 17

Richmond Preview and Prediction

First and goal. Three yard line. Two minutes remaining. Down six. Hokies can’t punch it in. That’s all you need to know about the WVU game. Hokies couldn’t get out of their own way and tossed away a chance to get a big road win. The game wasn’t the disaster that some are making it out to be, but the red zone offense is a concern moving forward.

SP+ Rankings

Richmond

Overall: 15th (FCS)
Offense: 100th (FCS)
Defense: 4th (FCS)

Virginia Tech

Overall: 37th
Offense: 34th
Defense: 44th

Richmond’s defense presents a good challenge to a struggling Virginia Tech offense. This group has some size. This is a solid group from the FCS. Normally, in these kinds of games you keep the ball on the ground and keep the clock moving. But after last week, Tech’s passing game could use some reps. This might be a good opportunity to air it out and let the quarterback and receivers get into a rhythm.

Virginia Tech’s defense should feast on the Richmond offense. This is not an explosive offense. Tech has generally done a good job at stopping the run this year. Tech’s talented secondary could pose some problems when Richmond decides to throw. Expect Richmond to have to go to the air if they want to move the ball on the Hokies defense.

Can Virginia Tech lose to Richmond? Yes, but don’t count on it. FCS teams beat FBS teams from time to time. But usually it’s a bad FBS team going against an above average FCS teams. Or a brutally bad performance from a good FBS team. The Virginia Tech team that lost to JMU ended up in the Orange Bowl that season. It happens. But it’s pretty rare.

Use this game as a tune up before Notre Dame. The Hokies need to get out of this game with a win then go into a bye week before Notre Dame. That’s a good opportunity to rest up and get healthy before a big non-conference game at home. If Notre Dame can get through the next two weeks without a loss, that would set up for a big matchup.

Prediction: Virginia Tech 35, Richmond 7

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