John Schneider (1-0)
This has to be one of the most difficult calls in a very long time. The SEC egoists are out in force, and even with a team that is a shade over .500 for the last three seasons, we find ourselves being cast as just a step up from cupcake. Hum... the team really needs to get their backs up and take offense to that characterization. I have said this too much, and I will say it again, we have not seen the Fuente offense, yet. We saw selective bits and pieces last Saturday, but we didn't see more than the rudimentary part of the playbook. Our defense is much improved this season. Motuapuaka is stronger and a hair quicker (mostly because he's got experience, now). Edmunds is big and fast in the middle. Foster now has three completely different defensive looks to toss at the Vols. If we can control the tempo of the game, keep the ball on offense, and stop their offense from going far (Gotta make Dobbs pass... that means stuffing the run, containing the outside, and keeping Dobbs (their 3rd leading rusher last season) from gashing us.
If we can do that, we can certainly win this game. If Fuente's offense never really materializes and the linebackers can't contain the QB and outside run, then it's going to be a long football game. This is not a homer pick but it is an optimistic expectation that this is a different football team: 32 - 24 Hokies
Mohamed Hassan (1-0)
This will be the first signature game of the Fuente era. Coach Fuente was one of the hottest coaching candidates on the college football market and against the Tennessee Volunteers he will be able to prove his worth. I expect to see all of the offensive tricks and wrinkles on display at the same fast pace from week 1. With the element of surprise of a new offense and a little bit of Hokie magic, I'm calling for an upset here. I'll go with the same score the last time the Hokies pulled off a great upset against Ohio State. Virginia Tech will win the Battle at Bristol 35-21 as the ACC continues to crawl out of the shadows of the "big bad SEC".
Joshua Schneider (1-0)
I'd love to make a Virginia Tech pick but I just can't believe Tennessee is as bad as they showed against Appalachian State. They had almost everything go wrong for them. I think it'll be a close game, but I just have a feeling we might get burned by the Bear front that I would expect Bud to at least attempt to employ against a somewhat limited QB and okay receivers. If I have to take the L for this I gladly will, but my pick is Tennessee 28 VT 21.
Jawhar Ali (1-0)
If the Hokies want to win Saturday, they need to win two battles. Defensively, they need to win the battle in the trenches. We all saw how much Dobbs struggled when pressure was in his face. Ekanem, Mihota, and Baron will need to provide that pressure to lessen the burden on the secondary. The offense will need to win the turnover battle. After the slopfest against Liberty where the Hokies committed four turnovers, Fuente will have preached ball security all week, specifically to his new QB Evans. You cannot fumble the football 5 times, even twice, against the Vols and expect to win. I have sneaky confidence about this game, but I think the Hokies fall short in a one score game
Vols 32-24 Hokies.
Roy Hatfield (1-0)
I can't really get a good read on the 2016 Virginia Tech Hokies. I'm not sure that last week gave us too many clues for Saturday's gameplan. Butch Jones certainly played vanilla, and it almost cost him. Tennessee is deeper, but the offensive line looked terrible against App State. In the end, Rocky Top will be playing virtually non-stop. Tennessee 42 Hokies 21.
Bryan Manning (1-0)
The Hokies enter the Battle at Bristol with plenty of momentum after last week's win over Liberty. Tennessee's struggles in its win over Appalachian State only increased Tech's confidence going into this one.
Expect a much more diverse attack from the Hokies on both sides of the ball versus the Vols. The Hokies get Houshon Gaines and Adonis Alexander back on D, giving them more flexibility. Bud Foster will throw the kitchen sink and Joshua Dobbs and that'll be enough to slow down UT's offense.
Jerod Evans will be solid and Ford will be spectacular once again
Prediction: VT 24, UT 21
Jay Johnson (1-0)
I think Tennessee's run defense showed some susceptibility and that the Hokies will be able to exploit that potential weakness. Virginia Tech had to protect the ball better than they did last week. I think the Vols are better than they showed last week, but had a scare that is going to make them wary. That being said, I think that the Hokies have more than a chance to win this game. I'm excited to see the team open up and demonstrate what they can do. This game will set the foundation of my expectations for the rest of the season. I'm optimistic. Virginia Tech 24, Volunteers 21.