A 19th straight bowl appearance is a given. Ditto ACC Coastal Division contention. As is often the case, the overarching question surrounding Virginia Tech’s football team is:
Will the Hokies run the regular-season table?
Sure, the schedule is manageable, and yes, the defense should be better than last year’s. But let’s not forget a few things.
Surviving the regular season unscathed is almost as difficult as surviving happy hour with Charlie Sheen; Tech is a turned Logan Thomas or David Wilson ankle from widespread panic; the Hokies have lost at least two regular-season games in each of the last 10 years.
So no, Tech will not be 12-0 entering the ACC championship game. When will the Hokies lose? Here we go.
Appalachian State: The Mountaineers figure to be better, much better, than the James Madison team that won at Lane Stadium last September. But they won’t beat Tech in Thomas’ debut as starting quarterback.
At East Carolina: Dominique Davis is a quality quarterback, Dowdy-Ficklin Stadium an imposing venue. But the Pirates were historically bad defensively last season – Navy scored 76 on them. So the Hokies pass their first road test.
Arkansas State: Shame on Tech if it loses to a Sun Belt Conference team coming off back-to-back 4-8 seasons.
At Marshall: The Hokies’ first trip to the state of West Virginia since 2005. Much less couch burning in Huntington than in Morgantown. Bank on 4-0 entering the conference season.
Clemson: Coach Dabo Swinney says quarterback Tajh Boyd from Phoebus is ideal for new coordinator Chad Morris’ spread attack. Perhaps. But after consecutive games against Auburn and Florida State, Clemson will be running on fumes, which won’t be enough.
Miami: Seven of the eight Hurricanes suspended for accepting Nevin Shapiro’s South Beach charity are expected back for this game. But neither Jacory Harris or Stephen Morris appears capable of quarterbacking a team to victory at Lane.
At Wake Forest: The Deacons impressed Thursday night at Syracuse before botching a 15-point fourth-quarter lead and losing in overtime. But they’re not in Hokies’ class.
Boston College: Count me among the media who annually underestimate the Eagles. Tech doesn’t, though. BC is almost always a challenge, whether at home or on the road.
At Duke: The Blue Devils are improving under David Cutcliffe. But they’re not ready to beat the Hokies.
At Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets were en route to victory last season at Virginia Tech until quarterback Josh Nesbitt injured his arm. The Hokies are 2-1 against coach Paul Johnson but have yet to solve his option offense. This is where Frank Beamer’s bunch stumbles, on a Thursday night ESPN stage.
North Carolina: The Hokies lost back-to-back Thursday games to Georgia Tech and UNC in 2009. Not this year. The Tar Heels aren’t good enough on offense. Confession: I thought the same two years ago.
At Virginia: Tech closes an 11-1 regular season with its eighth straight conquest of the Cavaliers.
A return to the ACC title game and chance at a fifth league championship in eight years, albeit with one blemish. I’m guessing most Hokies faithful would be satisfied.
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