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Virginia Tech football: Gobbler Country Staff Picks

It’s the national game of the week! What do the folks at Gobbler Country think will happen?

ACC Championship - Clemson v Virginia Tech Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Bryan Manning (4-0)

Since Justin Fuente came to Blacksburg he’s had the Hokies ready for these big games. He proved that in how the Hokies battled Clemson in the ACC championship game last season. So, while most folks say the Hokies lost a lot from that team, the Tigers, did too. But the biggest difference for Clemson this year is an elite defense. It’s offense has certainly taken a step back, but that defense has taken a couple of steps forward. The Hokies just don’t have enough firepower at the receiver position outside of Cam right now to threaten them for 60 minutes. Tech keeps this one close, however, just like last week against BC, the Tigers pull away in the fourth quarter. Only it will be later in the fourth quarter. Bud Foster will have his group ready and they’ll have a big game. Unfortunately it won’t be big enough to pull off the upset.

Clemson 24, Virginia Tech 16

Jawhar Ali (4-0)

This game will decided by four factors. The first will be can the Hokies’ interior OL neutralize Clemson’s outstanding defensive line? Teller, Gallo, and Pfaff will have their hands full with Dexter Lawrence and Christian Wilkins. The second will be Tremaine Edmunds vs. Kelly Bryant’s legs. We all know of this defense’s struggles when facing a mobile quarterback, and I anticipate Edmunds to follow Bryant all over the field to make life as difficult as possible for the Clemson QB. The third factor will be the turnover battle. The Hokies cannot afford to give Clemson extra possessions because good teams will make you pay for your mistakes. And finally, the running game. Fuente has to manage the game well, which means taking pressure off of Jackson and run the football consistently and effectively to keep Clemson’s defense off balance.

I don’t see the Hokies winning three of those four battles, however. I think it will be a tight, low-scoring affair but Clemson’s talent and experience will win this game for them. Clemson 24-17.

Jay Johnson (4-0)

The Virginia Tech Hokies can win this game if they disrupt the Clemson game plan, or the Tigers start making mistakes. The Hokies offense simply must be reckoned with. The last three teams the Hokies have faced are teams that are either bad or outmatched. As you’ve read from me in the past, I feel like Fuente holds things close to the chest and that is why the games against Delaware and ODU seemed so pedestrian. Good teams dominate overmatched teams. The Hokies have done this. Over the last 12 quarters of football VT has dominated 11. Cam Phillips has been at the top of the receiving corps in the entire FBS over the last two weeks. Josh Jackson is turning heads with only one interception, 11 TD passes, 1127 yards, and 9.8 yards per pass. This puts him in the top 20 for several of the metrics. Yes, this came against some less capable competition, but good teams do that to lesser teams. The Hokies also have a better turnover differential than the Tigers. All that is pretty neat… but, Clemson is still really good at football and has faced a stiffer schedule than VPI thus far. If VPI can limit the Clemson ability to grind games out with their defense and rushing attack, force some turnovers, and limit their own mistakes they can win. If both teams play perfect games, or equal performances, I feel like Clemson ends up winning. I love me some Hokies boys and girls, and the fan in me says… YES, THEY CAN… and I think they really can, but the realist says that Clemson’s depth is too much. Even if the Hokies hang with them through the first three quarters, maintaining that pace for four quarters will be extremely difficult. VT fights hard, but opens conference play with a fall, 14-24.

John Schneider (4-0)

I have said what I am going to say. See Preview article. I don't like this game, all four poll answers are how I feel about the game, they weren' just click bait. Clemson is overrated. Period. The Fanboys and Fearboys will all tell me that last year this.. and last year that... and Auburn (yawn), and Louisville(snicker) and yadda yadda... Clemson is very good, but Dabo Swinney is the driving engine of that football team. His receiver duo isn't as good this year, and his QB might or might not be, but despite what Deshaun Watson says (and doesn't mean), Clemson's QB isn't as good as Watson. He can be stopped, just look at Auburn (yawn again) and BC (wow) for the first 3 quarters. It's Clemson's defense that I am most concerned about, and how our shaky Swiss cheese offense is going to deal with the Clemson linemen. I think that this is either a defensive game with a few offensive bright spots, or a Tiger blowout.. Fuente wants this one... badly... we'll see how much the team wants it with him. If they do it's, Hokies 24-21. If they don't... well... I'll have to work harder to go through painful snapshots.

Joshua Schneider (4-0)

....This game is big. Like TURBO BIG. There are going to be a TON of recruits here this weekend, the nation's eyes are on us in primetime...and I mean, so far? Coach Fuente hasn't really disappointed us on the big stage. However...I can't bring myself to really be very confident in a one wide receiver offense versus that defense, and I don't know how confident in our defense despite the 2 shutouts (please peg them with the asterisk of 'against obviously inferior competition'). Look, there are ways that this lines up similarly to the Ohio State game in the Horseshoe, but I wouldn't bet on the same result. Part of me thinks Clemson is somewhat overrated (are Auburn and Louisville that great? Louisville is, for the most part, Lamar Jackson and a buncha guys, and Auburn has beaten a bad Georgia Southern team, struggled with Mercer, and boatraced a terrible Mizzou team. How is that any different than us, really, for those of you out there thinking Clemson is good for barely beating them?)

I just think Bud's not going to be able to get everyone to contain Clemson's running game and the Hokies will be overmatched against Clemson's first round draft pick NFL defensive line. Clemson 34-VT20.

Roy Hatfield (4-0)

It’s been 10 years since College Gameday graced the campus in Blacksburg. Virginia Tech hasn’t been under the brightest of lights in a while. Clemson went on the road two weeks ago and man handled Louisville. Hostile environments don’t intimidate them. College Gameday doesn’t make them nervous. They were completely looking ahead against Boston College last week, and Virginia Tech has had three straight cupcakes. Josh Jackson played solidly against West Virginia, but better find more targets than just Cam Phillips. I can’t quite peg this game, but Fuente has a huge grudge against Clemson. Hokies 38 Clemson 34.