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Georgia Tech Preview and Prediction

You take conference road wins however you can get them. Even if they are ugly. Getting the win is all that matters. Hokies took care of business on the road at Duke last week. Each week the games get bigger.

Georgia Tech is next. This is a team that gives the Hokies fits every year. This year should be no different. This is an offense that stays in every game. They don’t often get blown out. They limit possessions on both sides of the ball. That means your offense has to be efficient.

Virginia Tech

Overall S&P+ ranking: 17th
Offensive S&P+ ranking: 56th
Defensive S&P+ ranking: 11th
Special Teams S&P+ ranking: 36th

Georgia Tech

Overall S&P+ ranking: 62nd
Offensive S&P+ ranking: 44th
Defensive S&P+ ranking: 81st
Special Teams S&P+ ranking: 74th

How will Bud Foster’s reshuffled lineup perform against the Georgia Tech offense? If there was a game where you’d feel okay losing Greg Stroman and Terrell Edmunds, it’s this one. However, you’re asking your backups not to make many assignment errors. That can be a lot to ask sometimes. Either way, I think Bud Foster knows this offense well enough to make those adjustments. He will put his players in a position to succeed.

This is a game where the Hokies offense should be able to move the ball. First, the Hokies offense has been excellent at home. The Hokies have averaged 46.7 points per game against FBS opponents at Lane Stadium this year. The Georgia Tech defense has had trouble stopping opponents this year. They don’t give up the big play but you can dink and dunk them downfield all day long. Expect the Hokies to put up some points in this game.

You worry about the reshuffled lineup on defense. You never know how that’s going to go against a dangerous Georgia Tech offense. But if there is someone who knows how to scheme against that offense, it’s Bud Foster. Also, this offense has been lights out at home. They look like a completely different team in Lane Stadium. If the defense can hold up and not have too many assignment issues, I expect the Hokies will be fine. I never go into this game expecting a comfortable win. But if the Hokies play at home like they have all season, I’m feeling pretty good.

Prediction: Virginia Tech 34, Georgia Tech 21

Duke Q&A with Mike Kline from DukeFootballBlog.com

You can follow Mike Kline on Twitter at @MikeKlineDSB and read his blog at DukeFootballBlog.com.

What are your thoughts on your team so far?

So far I’ve been pretty pleased with Duke’s season, though that loss to Northwestern seems less and less impressive as the Wildcats have fallen off the last few weeks. This is the best defense I’ve seen in Durham probably ever. The defense is fast and aggressive and much better than advertised. The offense is, however, not and have struggled against Power 5 conference teams. Quarterback Thomas Sirk has struggled with accuracy on the deep ball and decision making and the running game has been sporadic. There are weapons there just not consistent.

What are your expectations going into the Virginia Tech game?

I expect a close if not ugly game that could come down to a possession or two either way. In short similar to last years game. It will be a battle.

Do you still see Lane Stadium as a “tough place to play”?

Lane Stadium is one of the best venues in the ACC. I’ve been there and the atmosphere and tradition is second to none in the conference. It is still a big time advantage for the Hokies against most team.

At this point, how do you see the Coastal division shaking out? Which team do you think will end up winning the division?

Right now as much as I’d like to pick Duke I think the Blue Devils lose a game or two along the way and I think this game could be one of them. I feel like, as much as I hate to say it, that North Carolina and Pitt have been the class of the Coastal to date. That could change in a weeks time, as per the usual in the Coastal. I think the division comes down to those three Duke, Pitt, and Carolina. Whoever has the strongest finish wins.

What is your prediction for the game?

Like I said earlier, I expect a very close game, probably low scoring. I think if Duke can muster enough offense they will win the game with their solid defense, if Virginia Tech can keep the Duke offense in check and get some opportunistic play on offense or special teams they could squeak out with the victory. If I have to make a prediction I’ll go homer and say Duke wins 17-10, but wouldn’t be shocked if the score were the other way around. This game feels like a push to me.

Pittsburgh Q&A with @CzarOfPgh

You can follow Zach on Twitter at @CzarOfPgh.

What are your thoughts on your team so far?

As has been the case with basically every Pitt team I’ve watched, I have really no clue what to make of them. There have been some very positive signs.

The defense, in particular the pass defense, has been night and day different than last year. Last year’s philosophy on defense suited Paul Chryst’s conservative personality quite well: bend but don’t break. Unfortunately, the talent level just wasn’t good enough to avoid breaking. This year, Pat Narduzzi has already implemented a tough, attacking defense. Starting cornerback Avonte Maddox has had a phenomenal season so far, and last year’s top recruit in Pennsylvania Jordan Whitehead has already seized the starting strong safety spot and is among the team leaders in tackles.

On the downside, the run defense is still a work in progress. A large part of this is talent. Paul Chryst failed to recruit the d-line and linebacker positions very well. Still, it’s obvious that the new more aggressive scheme will pay off once the talent level begins to catch up in a few years.

More troubling, the offense is suddenly a mess. Sure the loss of James Conner to injury and 60% of last year’s starting OL to either the NFL or season-long injury has been a major problem. A bigger problem, at least in my opinion, is a lack of a real identity. It’s not clear to me what the offense wants to be. At least with Paul Chryst you knew he wanted a power running attack. Thus far, Jim Chaney seems very hesitant to try to run inside, possibly due to the OL concerns. The problem is that the outside running game hasn’t been so great either. There have been a lot of East-West plays that never really develop. To go with those issues, Chaney quite obviously never trusted Chad Voytik to do… whatever it is Chaney wants to do. Nate Peterman has looked like he can make a lot of accurate throws, but he’s also been fairly turnover prone. I’m eager to see the offense develop into something with a real identity rather than random elements tossed together to see what works.

What are your expectations going into the Virginia Tech game?

I expect a fairly ugly game, especially if the weather is as expected. I know VT’s defense didn’t look like the elite unit it was expected to be against ECU, but I don’t think Pitt can do (or wants to do) the kinds of things on offense that ECU does. I’m terrified that VT’s talented defensive line is going to eat Pitt’s offensive line for lunch. Jim Chaney is going to want to establish the run one way or another, and that is going to be a tough order. Even if the weather were ideal, I’m not sure how well Pitt could pass against a great secondary and strong pass rush. In poor weather, it might be impossible. Unfortunately, I think a good passing game that keeps Tyler Boyd and the tight ends involved is going to be the best chance Pitt has to reliably move the ball.

When VT has the ball, I hope to see an improved rushing defense. VT has a lot of talent at running back, and Pitt is going to need to hold their own in order to have any chance of winning. If the passing defense can keep up its improved play over last year, Pitt’s success is going to come down to how well they can stop the run.  In an ugly game in wet weather, I can’t really say that either team has a clear advantage.

Heinz Field is a house of horrors for VT, how do you feel about Pitt coming to Lane Stadium?

To be honest, the thought of coming into a night game at Lane would terrify me. I want no part of that. Luckily, this year’s game is at noon. It’s hard to think of any stadium that’s truly intimidating for a noon game. Couple that with the expected wet, cold weather, and it’s hard to imagine much of a home field advantage for VT.

At this point, how do you see the Coastal Division shaking out? Which team do you think will end up winning the division?

From the looks of it, Duke is going to be the class of the Coastal. They’re really playing great defense, and if recent history carries any weight, the offense will get going pretty soon too. They’re capable of easily winning the Coastal outright. Miami should be right up there with them, but it’s hard to have any faith in an Al Golden-coached team. They could easily collapse and lose several games that they shouldn’t. I also wouldn’t write off Georgia Tech either. They were too good last year to look so sloppy this year. I think they’ll still have a respectable finish.

What I am trying to say here is that I think Duke probably wins it but everyone has a good shot of finishing well. Except Virginia.

What is your prediction for the game?

Ugly. Maybe not Mizzou-UConn ugly, but pretty bad. These are two flawed teams that have been forced by injury to reconsider what their strengths are. A noon game in wet weather isn’t going to help them figure it out. I expect Virginia Tech to pull out a victory because they’re more talented on defense. If Pitt can figure out an offensive recipe that works–and it was in the VT game last year that the light bulb went off for the offense–then they have a good chance. Still, VT is the more talented team, so unless they get unlucky in the turnover department, I’d expect VT to win close.

Ohio State Preview and Prediction

This is going to be a very good game. Ohio State has had a year to stew on the one blemish on their otherwise perfect record last year. Virginia Tech is hoping to show the nation that last year was no fluke and they can do it again this year at home.

Ohio State is clearly the more talented team. Urban Meyer has recruited very well in his first three years in Columbus and he has four and five star talent all over the field in addition to very good depth. This is a team not to be taken lightly. It is probably one of the best teams to come to Lane Stadium in the last 20 years.

So why should Hokie fans have hope that VT can win? A couple of reasons. First, we have Bud Foster. He is one of the best minds in college football and the battle between him and Urban Meyer will be worth the price of admission. They will be making adjustments and counter adjustments all night long.

Second, don’t discount the effect that a rowdy night game at Lane Stadium has. I know Lane Stadium hasn’t been quite what it’s been in the past the last three years. But this is a night game on national TV going against the #1 team in the country. There will be no other football on TV Monday night. It doesn’t get any bigger than this and Hokie fans know it.

Third, the VT offense was ill-prepared to pull the upset last season. The offense was very young. They had a new QB that had spent all of four weeks learning the offense. An offensive line that was still working on coming together. And RBs and WRs who were in high school just months before that game. This time the offense has had a year under its belt and it should be a more even match up.

This is a really tough game to pick. First off, week 1 of the college football season is always crazy. You’re never quite sure what’s going to happen in any game. But beyond that, you know that Ohio State has had this game circled since last September and the Hokies know it’s a big opportunity for them to make a statement on a big stage. Ultimately, I think Ohio State just has too much fire power across the board for the Hokies. I think it’ll be a close game going into the 4th quarter with Ohio State pulling away by 10-14 points. Ezekiel Elliott is the difference. The less yards he gets, the more likely it is that the Hokies win this game.

Prediction: Ohio State 27, Virginia Tech 17

Boston College Q&A with @SoaringtoGlory

You can follow Joe @SoaringtoGlory on Twitter.

What are your thoughts on your team so far?

Boston College is right around where I expected them to be overall, but didn’t get there the way anyone expected.  Beat USC, lose to Colorado State?  Take Clemson to the wire, nearly blow a 20-point lead against Wake?  The Eagles are unpredictable but I never bought the media’s prophesies of doom for this team, especially those that killed BC after losing Andre Williams.  BC wasn’t massively underrated, but they were underrated to an extent, which is nothing new to us really.  We’re looking like a bowl team again and I’m satisfied.

What are your expectations going into the VT game?

Were the Hokies still ranked, the expectations would be minimal.  The Eagles haven’t played a good game at Lane Stadium in years, but Boston College is catching Virginia Tech at the right time.  This is about as good a chance they’ve had of beating VT in their building since we had Matt Ryan.  I am not expecting a win at this point but I am expecting that the Eagles will at least be in the game in the fourth quarter.  Part of it is that nobody knows how the Hokies are going to respond to the Miami embarrassment.

What are your thoughts on VT being BC’s inter-division rival? Do you like the arrangement or would you like to see BC matched with another team?

This rivalry game has served us well for a long time — I noted on my own site that these two teams have only gone one year since 1993 where they did not see one another.  There is a familiarity with playing the Hokies every year, and while I wouldn’t mind one-year breaks now and then, I have no issues with keeping the series going indefinitely.

What is your prediction for the game?

I’m debating this — my response might change several times from now until Saturday morning.  As for now, you caught me at a time when I’m expecting a narrow VT win.  The Hokies are clearly in trouble but I don’t think they’re as bad as they looked last Thursday.  Thing is, their run defense looked porous at best and that’s bad news if the Eagles run game gets going.  I don’t put too much stock into BC being 3-0 on the road as they’ve played lesser opposition all three times.  Even beating a relatively down VT team on the road would be worthy of praise.