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Preview: The Virginia Tech Hokies vs the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame

Virginia Tech has been playing football for about 125 years. Never once have we played Notre Dame. Saturday the Hokies travel to South Bend for the very first time for football. It's a Pride Game for the Hokies and a must win for the Irish. #OneGameOneTeamRightNow

Is this one out of our reach, too?
Is this one out of our reach, too?
Michael Shroyer/Getty Images

That's the first time in over a century and a quarter that those two school names have been mentioned in relation to football.  We have never played Notre Dame.  The game history is a blank, but we all know about Notre Dame.  Knut Rockne with the backfield shift, the forward pass, the promotion of the quarterback from a minor offensive position through the roaring 20's the Depression era ‘30's the national dominance from the ‘40's to the Lou Holtz era of the ‘80's.  Notre Dame is legend, and with the exception of a few other collegiate teams is the cream of NCAA football; even all of football.

There isn't any of that interesting "history" there are no scores to settle, no vengeance to seek, and no reintroductions of old grudges to talk about.  We are about to see a fresh empty slate, much like a bowl game, for both teams.  And ‘bowl game' should be the operative phrase, here.

Virginia Tech is 7-3 with a guaranteed shot at some level of bowl invitation.  The quality of the bowl invite is going to be directly attributable to the quality and quantity of the final two games on the Hokies' schedule.  For the Orange and Maroon this is a pride game.   Do we end up the season with a near miraculous 9-3 and a shot at 10 wins and an ACC Championship or do we slide into Lane to face a reviving Cavalier program for a last gasp try to make the championship game with less momentum and less accomplishment?

To the Fighting Irish, who face us at home in South Bend, this is a game for all of the marbles.  They will face another, but if they do not beat us, they are completely out of bowl contention (unless they get a charity 5-6 bid) if they lose on Saturday.  No one should underestimate a wounded leprechaun and his Shillelagh.  The Irish are going to show up ready to make a serious first impression.  While their defense has been struggling, their offense is still pretty potent.   They can pass the ball, and their quarterback, DeShone Kizar, is our snake venom.  He's mobile and their second leading rusher with 102 rushes for 440 yards.  The backup Malik Zaire has shown up in six games this season and cannot be discounted.

Notre Dame Passing :(from Yahoo Sports):

Player

G

Comp

Att

Pct

Yds

Y/A

Y/G

TD

Int

Long

Sack

YdsL

QBRat

DeShone Kizer

10

179

296

60.5

2470

8.3

247.0

22

8

79

18

88

149.7

Malik Zaire

6

7

17

41.2

78

4.6

13.0

0

0

22

3

28

79.7

Their Rushing Stats:

Player

G

Rush

Yds

Y/G

Avg

Long

TD

Josh Adams

10

128

653

65.3

5.1

43

3

DeShone Kizer

1

102

440

44.0

4.3

49

7

Tarean Folston

8

66

299

37.4

4.5

54

2

Dexter Williams

3

36

201

25.1

5.6

59

3

Malik Zaire

6

20

34

5.7

1.7

12

0

C.J. Sanders

10

2

14

1.6

7.0

12

0

Chase Claypool

4

1

9

2.3

9.0

9

0

Josh Anderson

1

1

4

4.0

4.0

4

0

Receiving Yards:

Player

G

Rec

Yds

Y/G

Avg

Long

TD

Equanimeous St. Brown

10

45

777

77.7

17.3

79

8

Torii Hunter Jr.

8

38

521

65.1

13.7

47

3

Kevin Stepherson

8

21

410

51.3

19.5

54

4

C.J. Sanders

10

21

269

29.9

12.8

34

2

Josh Adams

10

18

145

14.5

8.1

44

1

Durham Smythe

8

9

112

14.0

12.4

31

4

Their passing game is quite adequate and scores touchdowns.  They have two receivers over 500 yards and they scatter the ball around to more people than I have listed, here.  So, the Irish offense is dangerous, especially to a Virginia Tech squad with a time proven weakness for failing to contain running quarterbacks.

At 4 and 6, the Irish are in a really unfamiliar situation for them as it relates to their history, and as it relates to their recent success.  Most of that falls on the defense's shoulders.  Their Defense should be vulnerable to a consistent mixed Pass heavy offense.  The problem is that Virginia Tech's offense has seriously sputtered over the last three games.   From the field goal heavy Pitt game, where the O could not cross the goal line and left too many points on the field, to the slug fest shoot out of Duke, and then the total embarrassment at Lane last Saturday, the Offense looks like it has burned out of fuel.  Somehow Coach Fuente is going to have to find it in him to scrap the last three games worth of plans to run the ball and get the short up field and mid-range passing game going.  That means Jerod Evans has to play better, make better reads, and execute better passes.

It also means that the Hokies have to figure out how to win consistently.  We have figured out how to reach down and win close, and win in a run-away... sometimes.  Unfortunately this team is still inconsistent enough that it walks into a stupefying hay-maker that knocks it for a loop from which it never recovers.

This is a no expectations game.  It could be a shootout, a blow out, or it could devolve into a slugging match.  The weather is also going to be a factor with freezing rain and snow being predicted by the National Weather Service.  So, the Hokies have some serious issues to resolve, and it would be great to fix them on Saturday, instead of being behind the eight-ball the Saturday after Thanksgiving, with the Coastal on the line, and no momentum to bring to Worsham Field for Senior Night.

GO HOKIES!!!!