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Virginia Tech Football: Gobbler Country Staff Picks

Hokies looking to move to 7-1.

NCAA Football: North Carolina at Virginia Tech Lee Luther Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

Jay Johnson (7-0)

Last year the Hokies needed all four quarters to defeat the Blue Devils, 24-21. In 2015 Virginia Tech lost to Duke, at home, in 4OT, 43-45. In 2014 VPI squeaked by with a one-point victory, 17-16. In 2013 the Hokies lost again, 13-10. The last two games at Lane Stadium the Hokies have lost. The last time VT defeated Duke, in Blacksburg, was during the dismal 2012 season when they crushed the Blue Devils, 41-20. I’d like to say that the Hokies are going to crush Duke, but of the Blue Devils’ four losses the last three have been decided by a single score. Duke’s QB, Daniel Jones, has shown his ability to be a running threat. In fact, during last year’s game, Jones’ legs are what kept the Blue Devils in the game with 99 yards and two TDs on deck. Clemson’s Kelly Bryant frustrated the VT defense, but other than that the Hokies have largely marginalized the rushing QB this year. Weather could be an influence that could favor mobile QBs and Duke has a respectable defense. Regardless of Duke’s strengths I feel that, even with weather, the Hokies are better across the board. Probably not a blow out, but the Hokies win this one 28-14.

Josh Schneider (7-0)

Crappy weather and a team that always gives VT a fit has me on edge. I don't like the line being this high, either. Late (why? who knows?), cold (38 degrees), 100% chance of rain? Blech. I mean everything is coming together for a stupid game. There's going to be enough factors that could mitigate any talent advantage Tech has. I've still got no read on this game. I'm taking Tech 24-20.

Jawhar Ali (7-0)

Virginia Tech struggled against Duke last season due to the legs of QB Daniel Jones, but I don't see a similar struggle happening this weekend. Jones has struggled this season, both with his accuracy and being careful with the football. I don't think I've ever seen a worse performance by a QB against UVA than when Jones squared off against that defense. The Hokies' offense may get offf to slow starts, but like they have all season, the defense should hold serve in the bad weather to get the Hokies the win.

Hokies 28-10.

Bryan Manning (7-0)

At some point, slow starts on offense are going to catch up to the Hokies. Duke doesn’t possess a great offense, but it’s better than UNC. And the quarterback can run, which is always a thorn in the side of Bud Foster and his aggressive defense. The weather will be an issue for Tech’s passing game in this one, but it’s not like the Hokies chuck it deep a bunch. Josh Jackson and the short passing game should be fine. It would be nice to see more of Dalton Keene and Coleman Fox, too.

Anyhow, the Blue Devils hang around in this one but the Hokies pull away late.

VT 34 Duke 23

John Schneider (6-1)

This game is one that just crawls into my warning basket and shivers. Some of that will be because of the cold and wet. Blacksburg mid Fall is hitting like a truck, and the rain is supposed to start at 8:00PM or so. Which really galls me because someone moved the game to 7:20 for no good reason. Most of Saturday is supposed to just be cloudy and cool. There is just really no good reason why they can't move the kick back to some more reasonable hour like 3:30 and get it done with before the downpours hit.

For the rest of the show, I expect that Tech is going to be challenged, but if they are focused on defeating Duke, the Hokies should win this one. I don't expect a blowout shutdown like the UNC game. We still have running QB issues, and this game is going to be all about the run and the high percentage throw. I expect Duke to score. I also expect that it's about time for Fuente and Cornelsen to stop piddling around with this tepid offensive scheme aimed at the line of scrimmage. If Tech wants to win against Miami and Georgia Tech, it must think and act downfield. I see a field position game with a modest over/under; 28-13 Hokies.

Roy Hatfield (6-1)

This game will be ugly and low scoring. The Hokies are a double digit favorite, which worries me. Look for the Virginia Tech running game to be better this week. Look for Virginia Tech’s defense two force at least two turnovers. I like the Hokies in a struggle, 24-21.