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
You can follow David on twitter @Drew_On_WMU or read his latest stories at mlive.com/broncos.
What are your thoughts on your team so far?
The Broncos have really surprised me offensively. WMU scored 17 points per game last year, which was one of the worst averages in the country. Right now, WMU is scoring 41 per game through its first three games. I don’t expect that high output to continue, but the Broncos have additional weapons in freshman running back Jarvion Franklin, who is on a record-breaking pace so far, and sophomore Daniel Braverman, who is a quick shifty player that can make people miss in the open field. WMU’s offense looks much different than it did last year and is no longer one-dimensional.
Defensively, WMU is still very much a work in progress, especially in the front seven. Western Michigan recorded seven sacks last season and was the only team in the country to fail to reach double digits in that category. The Broncos recorded four sacks at Idaho and put up a good rush against Murray State. WMU’s secondary was billed as a strength of the team coming into the season and it’s been okay so far, though I think it’s fair to say it’s almost been a bit of a disappointment.
Overall, WMU is a work in progress. I predicted WMU would win three games this season. Maybe the Broncos get to four or five, but this isn’t a bowl team or one that will contend for a conference championship. Coach P.J. Fleck is stockpiling the talent in recruiting, but it’s going to take time for the young guys to gain experience.
What are your expectations going into the Virginia Tech game?
WMU’s fan base is very excited right now as the Broncos are on a two-game winning streak for the first time since 2011. There are some who feel WMU can take down a reeling Va. Tech team, but I’m not one of them. The Hokies won 63-0 the last time WMU came to Blacksburg in 2004. I don’t think it will be that lopsided, but I don’t see this one being in the single digits either. If this one starts getting out of hand it’s important WMU take out its key players, take their check from Va. Tech and get home healthy and ready for MAC play, where anything can happen.
How do Western Michigan fans view Virginia Tech’s program?
I think WMU fans know and admire/respect what kind of tradition and success VT has had over the years. As I said, there are some that think an upset can happen, but I think most know this one will be tough and it’s important that their team not get too beat up. WMU coach P.J. Fleck talked at Sunday’s practice about how much respect he has for Frank Beamer and what he’s done at Va. Tech. WMU will go into this one confident, but not cocky and I think the same goes for its fan base.
What is your prediction for the game?
I think WMU gets a touchdown in the first quarter, but I don’t see this one staying close for long. Oddsmakers have the Hokies favored by 27.5 points. I think that’s a little high, but not out of the question. My final score: Virginia Tech 41, Western Michigan 17.