The Clemson Tigers will be the most complete team that the Virginia Tech Hokies have faced since the 2014 National Championship Ohio State Buckeyes squad. Clemson is going to generate big plays on offense. The Tigers will score. There is no feasible path to shutting down Watson to Williams. Virginia Tech's hope lies with an ability to tourniquet the bleeding. Instead of touchdowns, holding them to field goals. Not allowing back to back big plays, etc. VT will likely need a non-offensive touchdown to keep up, and the offense is going to have to overcome an extremely capable Tiger defense. Can the Hokies defeat Clemson? Yes. But they will have to play the best game of their season, on all fronts. The last time the Hokies faced a team of this caliber they shocked the world and won handily. My heart screams that VPI will drop jaws and win, but my brain refuses to accept that outcome. I think the Hokies valiantly charge, but the Tigers are simply too good in too many places. I hope my brain is wrong, and my heart is correct, but I think Clemson wins and moves to the CFB Playoffs. 42-24 Tigers.
The Virginia Tech Hokies are in an excellent position in Coach Fuente’s first year. I selected Miami to win the Coastal, and the Hokies had other ideas. All the pressure is on Clemson for this game, as the Tigers are eyeing a return to the College Football Playoff. The Hokies are looking to improve its bowl position. The biggest challenge for the Hokies will be trying to contain Deshaun Watson. One key indicator will be his rushing yards. If the Hokies can limit Watson to fewer than 70 rushing yards, Virginia Tech has a chance. Tech has struggled against mobile QB’s all year, and this will be the most talented they’ve seen yet. I like our ability to score on offense, but question the lines’ ability to protect Evans. Clemson has an SEC caliber D-line, and the matchup here is critical. Prediction: Clemson 41 Virginia Tech 28.
I am not fond of making predictions. I am especially unhappy with being stuck between what I think will happen and what I want to happen. If the Hokies are nearly perfect they can win this. If Clemson is merely good they will take it. What is the chance that Tech will be nearly perfect. I am not going to guess the score. There is no sense in spoiling the amazing feat of the Hokies getting to this point. 3 W's more than I had hoped for and a Coastal Trophy. whatever else comes is pure gravy.
Virginia Tech is going to need more than just a little luck to win the ACC. We all know how good DeShaun Watson and the Clemson offense is, and with the Hokies inconsistencies in effort and performance on defense over the last month or so, the Tigers are more than likely to light up the scoreboard. Bud Foster will have to throw everything he has at Clemson's offense to have a chance of keeping this within reach. I would feel much better about this game if the Hokies could run the ball effectively, which they did against UVA, but this is Clemson. Controlling the tempo and pace will be paramount and without that running game, it's tough to see the Hokies pulling this off.
Tigers 37-21 Hokies
Look, this game is easy enough to call on paper. Clemson is the better team. They've got (mostly) better weapons, a more experienced and talented roster, their defense is better, and they've seen more success because of it. Tech's better than a lot of people are giving them credit for by a good bit, but I just think that this is a matchup that the Hokies will have a hard time winning this year. There are still holes in our coverages, inconsistencies in our offensive performances, and we're missing the level of talent that generally would make us competitive. In 2 or 3 years this might be more even, but at this moment- and this isn't to say an upset isn't possible, because it definitely is- the smart money is on Clemson. I believe it will be Clemson 42, VT 24.