The Hokies get to play a 12th game! I like how Adam Amin described the Hokies game against UVA as tournament football. Lose and go home. Luckily, the Hokies were able to get past their in-state rivals. They brought an increased intensity and got a couple of fortunate bounces. Commonwealth Cup streak – check. Now the Hokies get the chance to keep another streak alive with a win against Marshall.
Overall S&P+ Rank: 81st
Offensive S&P+ Rank: 64th
Defensive S&P+ Rank: 89th
Special Teams S&P+ Rank: 65th
Overall S&P+ Rank: 37th
Offensive S&P+ Rank: 110th
Defensive S&P+ Rank: 7th
Special Teams S&P+ Rank: 90th
This week you’re going to hear that Virginia Tech scheduled a win to become bowl eligible. That could not be further from the truth. Marshall is good! They have 8 wins and by the S&P+ ranking they will be 3rd best team the Hokies have faced this season. I believe the ranking is inflated to some degree by who Marshall has played this year but nonetheless this is a good team.
They remind me of a Frank Beamer coached team – limited offense but a really strong defense. The one good thing about this matchup is the Marshall does not look like the type of team that can exploit the Hokies struggles on defense. They will certainly be able to move the ball but I don’t expect the point explosion that a lot of teams have been able to put on the Hokies in the 2nd half of games. They have a better passing offense than rushing offense but it’s not exactly explosive. Watch out for Marshall’s big wide receiver, Tyre Brady. He has 64 catches and 9 touchdowns this season and has been targeted 126 times this season!
Marshall has an extremely stingy defense. This is a defense that doesn’t give up much on the ground which requires teams to try to beat them through the air. Teams have had some success against Marshall in the passing game. The Hokies offense will need to make some plays against this defense in order to win. This would be a good game to see a lot of misdirection and RPOs to keep Marshall out of sync. They might even throw in a trick play or two. Keep an eye on Safety Malik Gant, he leads the team in tackles and tackles for loss – which you don’t see very often from the safety position.
This game has the makings of a lower scoring affair than the Hokies are used to. Marshall has been very good at winning games where they score less than 30 points. What’s critical in this game is that the Hokies put up points on Marshall’s defense. The Hokies defense should be able to do enough to keep them in the game but the offense has to score against the Marshall defense. A big play on special teams would help too. This looks like a pretty even matchup on paper, but the Hokies should have the motivation edge and will find a way to pull it out in the end.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 28, Marshall 24
Frank’s last game. Frank Beamer is an institution at Virginia Tech. I think sometimes it’s easy to overlook Frank’s longevity and consistency at Virginia Tech. It’s remarkable, especially in this era of college football. 29 years. 23 straight bowl games. 7 conference championship. 5 division titles. That’s a hall of fame resume and Frank did it with as much class as anyone who has ever coached. He will be missed and today should be a celebration of what Frank has accomplished.
Now on to the game, Tulsa is one of the weakest teams to qualify for a bowl this year. The stats bear this out. Their defense is ranked 125th in the country. For your reference, there are only 128 teams in FBS. They have the 120th ranked rushing defense and 110th ranked passing defense. They allow 38.6 points per game this year. The teams that Tulsa beat on their way to 6 wins won a combined 17 games this year.
So you might be asking, any reason to be concerned going into this game? Well, Tulsa is ranked 14th in the nation in total offense and 11th in the nation in passing offense. Most of this was compiled against a very weak schedule but this team can move the ball nonetheless. Watch out for Keyarris Garrett who is Tulsa’s big playmaker at the wide receiver position. If the Hokies can’t cover him, he could have a big day.
One thing that Tulsa does well on defense is get into the backfield. They are ranked 41st in the nation in tackles for loss. The Hokies needs to stay ahead of the chains and not let themselves get into 3rd and long. That’s where Tulsa thrives on defense.
Keys to the Game for the Hokies:
- Stop the Run
- Cover Kayarris Garrett
- Protect Michael Brewer
Vegas says that the Hokies are the biggest favorite of the college bowl season with most outlets showing the Hokies as a 13.5 point favorite. On paper, it seems fair based on what both teams have accomplished this season. The most comparable team to Tulsa that the Hokies have played this year is Purdue. The Hokies beat Purdue 51-24. I think the Hokies should have a big day as long as they show up ready to play. If they don’t, Tulsa’s offense is potent enough to make them pay early. Since this is Frank Beamer’s last game, I see the Hokies show up with a fire and put a 1993 Independence Bowl-style beating on the Golden Hurricane. The Hokies should send Frank Beamer out a winner and we all get to see him on his player’s shoulders one last time.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 38, Tulsa 24
This is a must win. Can you imagine Mike London’s team ending Frank Beamer’s last season with a loss and snapping the bowl streak? Neither can I. But realistically, it could happen.
The Hoos are a middling team, as they have been for the past decade or so. They’ve been surprisingly tough at home. They’ve taken Notre Dame, Pitt, Miami and Louisville to the final whistle. This doesn’t appear to be a UVA team that you can put away early.
On offense, UVA is effective in the passing game. They are ranked 45th in the nation in passing offense and move the ball pretty well thru the air. With a banged up Brandon Facyson, that could be something to watch for.
When VT has the football, they are going up against a defense that hasn’t been particularly impressive. By the numbers, it’s a struggling offense against a struggling defense. The Hokies will need a big day from Travon McMillian in order to move the ball consistently.
If there is one area where the Hokies should have an advantage, it is on special teams. Even though it may not seem like it, the Hokies have been very efficient on special teams this year and in a close game like this, it could play to the Hokies advantage. Watch for this particularly on punt and kick returns.
The stats show the Hokies as a slight favorite in this matchup. If you’re looking from a talent standpoint, the Hokies should have a moderate talent advantage over the Hoos. If the Hokies play as well as they did against UNC, they should win by two scores. Ultimately, I think it’ll be a close game just like last year’s game was. Whoever makes the biggest mistake or the worst mistake will lose. Hopefully, the Hokies find a way to win and make it twelve straight and send Beamer to his 23rd bowl game.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 24, UVA 17
This game is a mismatch. Not much in this matchup favors the Hokies. North Carolina is firing on all cylinders and are winners of nine straight. It’s hard to see a way that the Hokies can win this game.
North Carolina is a great rushing team with an even better running quarterback. Better hope that the Hokies have somehow figured out a way to contain a running quarterback otherwise Marquise Williams could run for 200 yards. There are plenty of playmakers to worry about on the UNC offense. This group is firing on all cylinders. No one has come close to stopping them in the last two games.
The defense is beatable but will require dedication to running the football. This is not a team that you can easily beat through the air. A consistent running game will control the clock and keep the UNC offense off the field. That is a good formula to beat these guys.
If you’re looking for reasons to be hopeful, UNC has only played two true road games this season. TWO! And both of them went down to the last possession. A seven point win against Georgia Tech and a seven point win against Pitt. Since then they’ve blasted Duke at home by 35 and Miami at home by 38.
My sense is that UNC is a team that thrives at home and may be feeling a bit too good about themselves going into a difficult road game at Virginia Tech. This should be the best crowd the Hokies have seen since the Ohio State game and should be at full throat from start to finish. On paper, the Tarheels are a much better team. These games aren’t played on paper and the Hokies should have the emotional edge. I’m not picking against Frank Beamer in his last home game. Go Hokies!
Prediction: Virginia Tech 34, UNC 28
Do it for Frank. The Hokies have a terrible habit of playing flat coming out of a bye week. I really hope this is a different type of bye week with Coach Beamer announcing his retirement 10 days ago. My hope is that we will see a team reinvigorated to win two out of the next three and get Beamer to his 23rd consecutive bowl game and see him off on a high note.
This is certainly a winnable game. This one reminds me of the game against Boston College. Georgia Tech is flawed team. This explains why they are 3-6 overall and 1-5 in conference. They have a respectable offense but not the high powered attack we’re used to from them. But certainly still enough firepower to put some points on the board. This is a team you have to outscore. If you can’t counter their scores, you could find yourself in a difficult position.
I mentioned that this a flawed team and their flaw comes on the defensive side of the ball. This was a bad defensive team to begin with and now they are missing two of their top three defensive tackles. Couple that with inexperience at the linebacker position and you find a team that struggles to stop the run. If the Hokies can stick to the run, we should see a big game from Travon McMillian. Georgia Tech has experienced and talented players in the secondary, so you want to try to run the ball against them. I think we should see the Hokies put up some points this week. They should have the matchup advantage when they have the ball.
I wish I had a read on how this team was going to react to Coach Beamer announcing his retirement. Honestly, we just don’t know. I’m sure the players were just as shocked as we all were when the announcement became known. My guess and hope is that they use it as a rallying cry. I truly feel like this team has been close to putting it all together all year. Hopefully, this is what the need to string together a couple of complete performances. Let’s see if they get off to a good start on this critical three game stretch. I’d love to see Coach Beamer get one last bowl game.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 31, Georgia Tech 24
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What are your thoughts on your team so far?
Well, so far this season or so far in our lives? Let’s hit the wayback machine for a minute. Joe Tiller took Purdue out of the cellar and made them perennial Big Ten contenders. The glory days for us were Drew Brees and Kyle Orton, with the Boilermakers getting as high as #5 in the nation in 2004. However, it’s been a steady and nauseating decline since then, with Purdue football firmly back in the basement.
Coach Darrell Hazell came in for the 2013 season and while we really like him as a man, he just hasn’t done much on the field yet, with a record of 5-21 – and three of those five victories have been against FCS foes. Purdue is very slowly improving under Hazell, though, so we’re trying to remain optimistic.
Blowing their first game at Marshall has made it tough to envision more than a couple of wins in 2015, though.
What are your expectations going into the VT game?
I’ll be honest… we’ve been worried about this game for a while. Not because Virginia Tech is the powerhouse they once were, but because we know even in “down” years, they’re no pushover. I specifically remember watching their rivalry game with UVA last November and despite being the worse record, Tech took it to the Hoos. They always come hard with a ferocious D and that alone wins you games against programs that are struggling.
How do Purdue fans view VT’s program?
I remember talking to my co-editor after last season and looking ahead to this game and his exact words were, “You don’t want any part of Beamer.” Now, I don’t know if that’s how most Purdue fans view VT, but I think that’s how fans who know CFB do. He may not be the Frank Beamer of old, but he’s still a wily veteran and he’s been in every kind of game you can imagine. There is nothing about this Saturday that will concern or intimidate him or, in turn, his team. That’s how we view it and it makes us edgy.
What is your prediction for the game?
Purdue fans know this game is quite important for our program. A win or, at the least, a good showing gives everyone some hope that things are indeed heading in the right direction. There are still some fans out there with pipe dreams of making a bowl game this year – if it has any chance of happening, this one really feels like it needs to be a win. As for us at Boiled Sports, our official “Predicto” comes out on Friday mornings, but my gut feeling is that this one is a loss for Purdue. I don’t think Purdue’s QB, Austin Appleby, will be able to deal with the defensive pressure VT will bring and the Hokies may score a defensive touchdown or two.
Before I dive into Western Michigan, I’d like to start by talking about how Virginia Tech losses come in twos. I remember thinking right after the ECU game, uh oh, I hope this loss doesn’t get us twice. Let me delve into the recent history of Virginia Tech’s losses coming in twos over past few years and how the Hokies bounced back from those games.
Duke 13-10 L
Boston College 34-27 L
Next Game: Miami 24-42 W
Cincinnati 27-24 L
North Carolina 48-34 L
Next Game: Duke 20-41 W
Boise State 33-30 L
James Madison 21-16 L
Next Game: ECU 27-49 W
I could go on, but I really don’t want to relive the painful memories of other two game losing streaks (2009, 2008 & 2006). Either way, this coaching staff has a strong track record of bouncing back from these two game losing streaks and getting things right. And just like teams of the past, it’s not like this team is void of talent or haven’t shown flashes in the games they lost. The mistakes are correctable. Which brings me to Western Michigan. I think this is the week they circle the wagons and Beamer and Co get things back on track.
What do we know about Western Michigan? They have a very good offense led by RB Jarvion Franklin. Franklin might be one of the best RBs the Hokies face all season and is on his way to putting together a 1,500+ yard season. They’ve played Purdue close and blown out Idaho and Murray State. Defensively though, they have struggled. They rank 55th in total defense and size-wise our offense line should be able to push them off the ball. The Hokies haven’t played many games recently where there has been a significant size and talent disparity between themselves and the opposition, but this is a game where that is definitely the case. This will not be another shellacking like the Hokies used to put on the Broncos in the early 2000’s but the Hokies should be able to win comfortably. However, the Broncos will finally get on the board after being shutout in the three previous meetings with the Hokies. I think Vegas has this line right about where it needs to be (-21).
Prediction: Virginia Tech 35, Western Michigan 14
This innocuous tweet from @Beamer_Ball (Frank Beamer’s personal website) set of a firestorm of reaction from the Hokie faithful:
Pretty safe to say that Hokie fans are not too happy with the results of the last two games.