My recent history picking Virginia Tech football games stinks. And that may be charitable.
Last November, I said Tech would lose to Virginia for the first time since 2003. Think my inbox and timeline lit up when the Hokies rolled 38-0?
Understandably and good-naturedly, Tech faithful then urged me to forecast a Clemson victory in the teams’ ACC championship rematch. I picked the Hokies, who lost 38-10.
Tech’s subsequent Sugar Bowl versus Michigan struck me as coin flip. I called Hokies, but the Wolverines prevailed in OT.
Offered with that extended warning label, here’s a game-by-game outlook for Virginia Tech to 2012.
GEORGIA TECH: In their three victories over Paul Johnson’s deceptive option offense, the Hokies controlled the ball for 34:13, 31:11 and 30:02. In their lone loss to CPJ, the time-of-possession was 21:38.
So the charge for quarterback Logan Thomas and his friends on offense Monday night is to keep the ball away from the Yellow Jackets. Can they? Can Virginia Tech’s suspect offensive line block Georgia Tech’s suspect defense?
I believe so, especially since the Jackets will be without two suspended starters: cornerback Louis Young and linebacker Daniel Drummond. Hokies, 24-20.
AUSTIN PEAY: This isn’t basketball, and the Governors don’t have Fly Williams. Tech, 41-0.
PITTSBURGH: The Hokies’ first road game is against a team that allowed 64 sacks last season, 17 more than any Bowl Subdivision team. Think Bud Foster is aware of that stat? Under new coach Paul Chryst, the Panthers should be better, but not better enough. Tech, 28-14.
BOWLING GREEN: The MAC is back as the Hokies face a Mid-American Conference opponent for the 11th time since 2000. Tech won the previous 10 by margins ranging from 21 to 63 points. Hokies, 38-13.
CINCINNATI: The crowd dynamic at Fed-Ex Field, size and breakdown, will be almost as curious as the matchup. The Bearcats won 10 games last season and shared the Big East title but return only 11 starters. Tech, 24-16.
NORTH CAROLINA: Their non-conference schedule complete, the Hokies head to Chapel Hill, where new coach Larry Fedora (Southern Mississippi) and his spread offense await. The Tar Heels won’t be as good defensively this year, and with former Gov. Jim Martin now investigating, there’s no telling whether a brewing academic scandal will have mushroomed. Tech, 27-23.
DUKE: The Hokies are 8-0 against the Blue Devils since joining the ACC, but three of the last four meetings have been taffy-pulls. On pace to become the league’s career leader in receptions and yards, Conner Vernon has 14 catches for 260 yards against Tech. He’s a serious challenge for Kyle Fuller and Co. Hokies, 30-13.
CLEMSON: The season’s sternest test for what should be a ravenous defense. In Tajh Boyd, Andre Ellington, Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins, the Tigers have the ACC’s premier skill players. In only its second trip to Death Valley since joining the ACC, can Tech take advantage of Clemson’s unproven o-line and harass Boyd? Bet the over as the Tigers win 38-35.
MIAMI: Following a bye week, Tech heads south for a Thursday night game in what may well be a half-empty stadium, the same stadium where the Hokies hope to conclude their season, either in the Orange Bowl or -- dare we mention? – national title game. The Hurricanes are depleted, and with NCAA sanctions looming, they’d better get used to it. Tech, 24-12.
FLORIDA STATE: Can the Hokies and Seminoles produce the ACC’s first November clash of top-five teams since FSU-UNC in 1997? It’s hardly a stretch, and the matchup would be the most important in Lane Stadium history. Many folks smarter than I are aboard the Seminoles’ bandwagon, but I still have doubts about their offense. Tech rediscovers its Thursday night mojo, 17-16.
BOSTON COLLEGE: The Hokies have two extra days to prep for their final road game, and after the Clemson-Miami-FSU stretch, they may need it. The Eagles should be better than last year’s 4-8 edition but lack the big-league quarterback needed to upset the Hokies. Tech, 28-17.
VIRGINIA: After last season, I’ve learned my lesson. Still, playing in the stadium where he led Oscar Smith to a 2008 state championship, Cavaliers quarterback Phillip Sims makes the Hokies sweat. Tech, 31-27.
There you have it: a second consecutive 11-1 regular season, ninth straight year with double-digit wins and a sixth ACC title game in eight years. Could be 8-4 (seriously doubt it), could be 12-0.
What are your expectations, Hokies fans?
I can be reached at 247-4636 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me at twitter.com/DavidTeelatDP
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