So the same Hokies that started 0-2, losing to a last minute Boise State drive and a opportunistic underdog in James Madison currently sit 4-2 (2-0) after reeling off four-straight wins. While the loss to Boise was painful, and the loss to JMU will embarrass Hokies worldwide for the rest of their time on this earth, there can be solace in another ACC championship, which would be our fourth only seven years into the league. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let's look at the route the Hokies have to take to end up in Florida in early December for a date with an ACC Atlantic foe...which we hope will lead to another date in Florida four weeks later with another foe that won their conference.
The remaining schedule
Oct. 16- Wake Forest
Oct. 23- Duke
Nov. 4- Georgia Tech
Nov. 13- @ UNC
Nov. 20- @ Miami
Nov. 27- Virginia
As you can see, four of our remaining six games are at home. So that's a relief. We also have a Wake Forest team that is on a serious slide, perennial ACC cellar dwellers in Duke, a HIGHLY overrated and sporadic Georgia Tech squad, and a Virginia team that is starting to look like we all expected them to (bad). Those account for all of the home games, meaning if we don't come out of those four games unscathed, we can kiss our integrity and any chance at an ACC crown goodbye.
Although I said that if we don't go 4-0 against inferior competition at home it will be a complete disappointment, each team is completely capable of ringing our bell and landing a shocking knockout punch the same way that JMU did. Wake Forest has had A LOT of close calls in the last couple of weeks, losing to Georgia Tech and Navy on last second touchdowns. Additionally, at some points during those weeks, the Demon Deacons were down to their fourth-string quarterback, a converted wideout, who actually performed admirably. So to say that Jim Grobe and his crew have been unlucky is an understatement! The reason I won't sleep on any opponent is two-fold. One, JMU...'nuff said. Two, Wake has been in almost every game they have played, and something tells me that losing that close two weeks in a row is going to have them EXTRA-hungry.
Additionally, they have some real talent at the skill positions in Pendegrass, Adams, and Givens, and Jim Grobe is an excellent coach (in that look at what he has done at previously lowly Wake) and has won an ACC title. However, I predict that the Hokies will run away with this one. I expect a fight initially, but the Hokies' depth will wear on the Deacs as the game goes on, so a 38-14 score is my prediction.
As for Duke, they are also a sleeper team. Yeah, yeah, they were trounced by Alabama, but so
was Florida. They have an experience coach who has raised the profile of the program in both recruiting and play. Heck, Duke was almost bowl eligible a year ago, and that hasn't happened in A LONG time! Defensively, the Devils will be pressed to stop the Hokies. Offensively, they have some weapons in the receiving core to watch out for, and a QB who can get them the ball in Sean Renfree. Also, if anyone remembers last year, the Blue Devils were the closest to knocking the Hokies off of any team the Hokies didn't lose to. The Hokies barely fended off the pesky Dookies in Durham 34-26, in which they were the first team (and only the second team to date) to shut down Ryan Williams. So don't underestimate what they can do. However, again I will pick the Hokies by a similar margin.
Georgia Tech is the real mystery of the bunch. They are so inconsistent that it is puzzling. In fact, just as puzzling as the triple-option is to the Hokies' D. In the two meetings against Paul Johnson's scheme, the Hokies have been shredded on the ground, particularly by Josh Nesbitt...yeah, the guy who is still there. The real difference between this year and last is Georgia Tech's cardboard football player defense. If they are not actually cardboard, then they fooled me. It is therefore not surprising that the visionary of this defense is former beleaguered UVA coach Al Groh. So the Hokies are familiar with his defensive scheme. So the key to beating Georgia Tech is by stopping their triple-option attack...something I wouldn't put money on this Hokie defense doing. So although the Yellow Jackets are far inferior, I could actually see this being a loss if Tech can't outscore the Jackets on offense, and can't shut down the triple O.
UNC is a real test for the Hokies, as they were down big last time they were in Chapel Hill and just BARELY snuck away with a victory, and lost last year on the horrible decision making/play-calling of the Tech coaches. So, even in UNC's newest dilemma, don't chastise me for being at least a little uncomfortable with this matchup. This is the one team that can hold their own talent-wise, position by position against Tech in the ACC. A loss here would be a blow to the chances of Tech winning the ACC, but it would not drop them out of the race. The key is to go into the Miami game with 1 or less conference losses and win the head-to-head there. But, if we TCB, we could actually go in undefeated and still make our way down south to the ACCCG. This will be a bout with the Tarheels, who are still playing hard despite their current predicament, BUT I think the Hokies will come out on top. Why you may ask? Well, Frank Beamer's gameplan may be 20 years outdated and collecting dust, BUT Butch Davis doesn't seem to have a gameplan at all...unless you consider twiddling your thumbs on the sideline at the game, waiting to get back into your office to recruit a gameplan.
As for Miami, the Canes will be victorious if and ONLY if Jacory Harris stops playing monkey in the middle and throwing it right to the monkey. Virginia Tech's defensive backs are the best he will see (with the possible exception of those at Ohio State). The perceived weak link of the group (sophomore Jayron Hosley) is among the leaders nationally in interceptions, pass breakups and passes defensed. So although Miami has the athletes to run with Tech, they can't possibly expect to win if Harris is as careless with the ball as he has been...well, for the last year now. Where is that guy Robert Marve now? We may want him back!
And last but not least (well, actually, about that...) Mike London's UVA squad. They have lived up to everyone's expectations of their play, in that they have been more or less unimpressive (with exception to the USC game which they could have won). I am obviously picking the Hokies here. Marc Verica is going to have a VERY bad day against the Hokies. Again, I don't want to underestimate any opponent from here on out, especially not one with an up-and-comer in Mike London as their coach, but I have to admit that I am licking my chops for this date on the calendar...and so is the Hokie defense...because they smell blood!