I know, I know, it’s Saturday, and the Predictions article is usually a Friday thing. Well, this article’s publication date is wholly a function of the win against the Blue Devils, and the money people at ESPN and the ACC Network. If we had lost, this wouldn’t have been a prime time deal. It’d have been a 3:30 kick and a late dinner after the press conference. Well, Bryan Jawhar and I will be trudging out some time after midnight on this one. So, we decided to give everyone something to chew on for the day.
Y’all might not really like the predictions that are following. This game has to be one of the most difficult calls to make. So much so, I am not even putting up records for everyone because this contest isn’t actually all that important. You know, all the analysts are saying that it’s not an ACC game. It won’t count against our 2-0 ACC record in the Coastal Division. You can almost hear the Seinfeldian “Yadda Yadda Yadda” starting in the background. It’s a tough call and we’ll be asking for your opinion, just like always. Think about it, hard. Don’t just be a homer; but I don’t agree a wit with the analysts saying that this game isn’t all that important. I think that it could be the key pivot point of the entire season.
If you had asked me two weeks ago about this game I would’ve picked the Hokies. I still wasn’t sure about them but I believed in the defense. After the debacle in Norfolk, even after last week’s impressive performance, I just don’t know about this team.
I don’t think Notre Dame is a playoff team. I think they’re good. And I think they’re beatable. I just don’t know if it’s the Hokies that’s going to it Saturday night. This will be a huge test for Ryan Willis. I want to see the tight ends more involved in the passing game.
When it’s all said and done, I’m going with the Fighting Irish. I do think it’s close and I won’t be surprised if the Hokies win. And I hope I’m wrong but I’m saying Notre Dame 31, Hokies 20.
I have zero feel for this team or this game. Tech could pull the upset or Notre Dame could flatten them. I have no clue; period.
Sticking to my prediction and hoping I’m wrong. 42-28 ND.
This just has the feel of a tight game despite the difference in rankings. Notre Dame will have an advantage in the trenches so the Hokies will need to win on the perimeter to balance it out. The Hokies need to get off to a fast start to give this young squad the extra confidence it needs to stay competitive for four quarters. Unfortunately I don’t know if Tech’s offense and defense can stay consistent enough for four quarters to win this game but I will take the points (+7).
Notre Dame 30-27
Jay Johnson (3-1)
I did some research regarding Notre Dame’s opponents and there are some interesting observations that may provide some insight regarding the Hokies’ opportunity to upset ND. There has been much praise for the Irish defense. They currently sit as the No. 35 team with regards to yards allowed per game with 341. Regarding opposing offenses the most potent passing force they’ve faced was Ball State with 278.0 yards per game (No. 34) and the most potent rushing was Wake Forest with 244.4 ypg (No. 17). The Hokies sit with the No. 37 passing attack, 275.5 ypg and the No. 41 rushing attack, 204 ypg. The VT offense is the most balanced ND has had to face. Ball State had the No. 50 rushing attack (193.8 ypg) and Wake has the No. 62 air attack (243.2 ypg). The Fighting Irish offense has also had the privilege of facing weaker defensive units. Their close game against Michigan, by far, represents the toughest defense the Irish have faced - No. 7 rushing, No. 4 passing. After the Wolverines the drop off is steep with the next best unit being Vanderbilt’s No. 54 passing defense, and the worst being the No. 108 passing defense from WF. Defensively the Hokies have severely exaggerated statistics due to their abysmal performance against Old Dominion. Currently VPI passing defense sits as No. 123 with 304 ypg. The Hokies rushing defense is significantly better at No. 5, allowing only an average of 84 yards per game! If one removes the ODU game the Hokies passing defense averages about 240 ypg. Still not something to write home about, but significantly better than where they seem to be. My point is that the Hokies look to be one of the stronger teams the Irish have had to face, despite the black eye the Hokies received in Norfolk. The offensive output allowed by the Fighting Gobblers, against ODU, is the greatest under Bud Foster. You take that loss away and the Hokies are a top ten team and favored at home. I legitimately feel that ODU an aberration and not indicative of what this team is. If VT’s opponents want to use that loss as a warm blanket to wrap themselves in, proclaiming how bad the Hokies really are... go for it. I welcome such an error. Generally I have an optimistic outlook regarding this Virginia Tech squad, and that is even greater with Willis under center. I think that Peoples and McClease will frustrate the Notre Dame defense and keep their offense off the field. When the Irish offense is playing I think the Hokies will pressure Book and halt their rushing attack. ND is 0-3 against away ranked opponents since 2014. It’s about to be 0-4. Sure, I am Mr. Sunshine when it comes to the Hokies, but I bet they beat the Irish in a surprising shoot out.
Hokies, 42-35, count it.
This might seem to be a bail, but I cannot get a read on this game. I do think that the story of the contest is going to be the Virginia Tech Offense vs. the Notre Dame Defense. The Notre Dame offense is pegged to their very raw “rookie” (he’s played less than a total season… he’s a rookie) quarterback and their running game. If the FSU and Duke Virginia Tech Defense shows up (with some mistake cleanups) the match-up goes more to Tech’s Defense; especially if Oscar Bradburn can keep Notre Dame buried deep in their own end. There is a ‘bend but don’t break’ aspect of the 2018 Hokie D that cannot be denied. The ambushes and breakaways will have to be avoided.
There is a fundamental question though; can the Tech offense move the ball consistently given the nature of the Notre Dame Defense? That’s not just a Ryan Willis sort of deal, either. The offensive line is going to have to handle the pressure of the rush. The play calling is going to have to take advantage of intermediate opportunities with a moving pocket and 3 second pass patterns. The receivers are going to have to fight for balls, maintain possession in tough situations, and run after catches. Look to Tech to try to establish the run on delays, counters, and edge rushes that take advantage of over pursuit.
I expect to see more RPO opportunities for Willis, since he’s better with that aspect of the Fuente/Cornelsen orientation. The one thing that Tech is going to have to do is get its plan in place and go fast; minimal time between plays with no stops. That means getting the fat guys puking and woozy. That’s not easy to do but it can be done.
The overall game’s a push. The wise guys say Notre Dame -6. That’s not much given the relative rankings and ratings of the teams. The feeling is that we’ll either get steam rolled, or we get in a knock down drag out slugfest that is impossible to predict. It’s either going to be 35-17 Notre Dame, or 28-24 Hokies. I just don’t know which.
Straight up, Be honest, think hard. What’s going to happen?
This poll is closed
The Hokies come out roaring but the steam comes out of the boiler. Notre Dame cruses away.
Hokies come out serious, focused, and aggressive. The game surprises the Irish and the Hokies win convincingly.
Notre Dame dominates on Defense but so does Tech. The resulting slug fest nets a close Tech victory with less than 50 total points on the board.
Hokie offense figures out how to beat the Notre Dame D, but the Irish O, does the same to the Hokie D. It’s a shootout that ND gets the critical stop for.
It’s all about what happens on the field, and IF the Hokies are going to have a chance they are going to have to leave every ounce right there; on Worsham Field.