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Wake Forest vs. Virginia Tech: Complete preview, prediction & odds

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This could be a shootout.

Wake Forest v Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech TE James Mitchell in last season’s win over Wake Forest
Photo by Michael Shroyer/Getty Images

The last time the Virginia Tech Hokies (3-1) met the Wake Forest Demon Deacons (2-2) was in November 2019. Wake Forest came to Blacksburg ranked No. 22, sporting a 7-1 record with a quarterback in Jamie Newman who was considered one of the best in college football.

The Hokies dominated the Demon Deacons in second half, en route to a 36-17 win.

Tech held Newman to just 238 passing yards and he completed less than 50 percent of his attempts. Bud Foster’s group got to Newman three times and also forced two turnovers.

A lot has changed in the 11 months since these two teams last met.

The legendary Foster is enjoying retirment, while Justin Hamilton replaces him on the sideline.

For Wake Forest, Newman is gone, as are the team’s top three receivers from a year ago in Kendall Hinton, Sage Surratt and Scotty Washington.


When, where, TV & odds

When: Saturday, October 24, 2020

Where: Truist Field, Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Time: 3:30 p.m. ET

TV: ESPN3

Betting odds: The Hokies are currently 8.5-point favorites, per BetMGM


Series history

The Hokies lead the all-time series, 25-12-1. The Hokies are 6-1 against the Demon Deacons as ACC rivals. Virginia Tech’s lone ACC loss came back in 2014 in one of the most forgettable games in school history.

Wake Forest and Virginia Tech were tied 0-0 at the end of regulation and the Deacs ended up winning 6-3 in double overtime. This game produced one of the saddest images ever of the legendary Frank Beamer.

The series dates all the way back to 1916.

Before the 2014 debacle in Winston-Salem, Wake’s most recent win over the Hokies came back in 1983.


When Virginia Tech has the ball

The Hokies have the No. 2-ranked rushing attack in all of college football. Senior running back Khalil Herbert has rushed for 592 yards and five touchdowns in four games. He is averaging a shade under 10 yards per attempt and is the No. 2 rusher in the nation.

Herbert scored a receiving touchdown in the win over Boston College last week.

Quarterback Hendon Hooker was fantastic in first start of 2020 last week. Hooker completed 11 of 15 passes for 111 yards and a score. He made an impact on the ground, carrying the ball 18 times for 164 yards and three touchdowns. Hooker showed speed, power and vision in last week’s win and takes an already dangerous offense to another level.

Raheem Blackshear had his longest play of the season last week, when he ran for a touchdown. Blackshear showed impressive vision before bouncing it outside and taking it to the house. The Hokies would love to get him more involved in the passing game, too. It is just a matter of time before Blackshear has a huge game.

Tight end James Mitchell and wide receiver Tayvion Robinson are Tech’s top receivers with 12 receptions apiece. Mitchell is showing his worth in the running game as well. It would surprise no one if junior wideout Tre Turner finally has a breakout game with Hooker back under center.

Wake Forest defensive end Carlos Basham Jr. is one of the best defenders in college football. He has four sacks on the season and should be a fun matchup against Virginia Tech’s stout offensive line.

Basham Jr. played his high school football at nearby Northside High in Roanoke.


When Wake Forest has the ball

Wake Forest head coach Dave Clawson gets the most out of his team every year. Depending on his personnel, Clawson can be a more run-oriented team one year, or a pass-first squad the next.

This season, Wake’s ground game is the team’s strength.

Running back Kenneth Walker III is quietly having a strong season. In four games, Walker has rushed for 383 yards and seven touchdowns. His backup, Christian Beal-Smith, is good, too. Beal-Smith has rushed for 256 yards and four touchdowns.

Virginia Tech’s rush defense struggled in the loss at North Carolina. After some notable issues early last week, the defense settled down and held down BC’s rushing attack. It helped having senior safety Divine Deablo back in the lineup.

At quarterback for the Demon Deacons is sophomore Sam Hartman. Hartman is completing 62 percent of his attempts this season with 891 yards and three touchdowns. He has yet to be intercepted. One stat of note is Hartman has been sacked 14 times.

Hartman doesn’t take a lot of deep shots, which could be a result of his questionable protection.

Amare Barno, Justus Reed and Emmanuel Belmar could be in store for a big day.

Wake Forest’s top receiver is 6-foot-1 junior Jaquarii Roberson. Donavon Greene is a player to watch, as he is averaing almost 20 yards per reception.

The Hokies hope to have top cornerback Jermaine Waller back this week.


Prediction

Virginia Tech is not going to shut down Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons will look to establish the running game early and rely on Hartman to move the chains in the intermediate passing game.

While the Demon Deacons will find success on offense, their defense is another story.

Virginia Tech is in store for another big rushing day. Herbert will go over the century mark yet again, while Hooker and Blackshear have solid days, too. Expect Hooker to make more plays in the passing game this week.

Defensively, Virginia Tech will get to Hartman and limit Wake Forest’s scoring opportunities.

Virginia Tech 41 Wake Forest 24