Traveling away from Blacksburg for the first time this season and without 20+ players, yet again, the Hokies pulled together another impressive team result as they topped Duke 38-31. Braxton Burmeister led Tech once again, even though Hendon Hooker has cleared COVID quarantine; but it was Khalil Herbert that starred on Saturday evening in Durham.
Twenty carries, over 200 yards rushing, including a 60-yard dash, and two touchdowns. On top of that Herbert returned three kick-offs for 150 yards, setting up multiple scores for the Hokies. Now 2-0 on the season, how far can this #18 ranked Virginia Tech side go? At the moment COVID seems to be the biggest opponent that could stop them.
ESPN however is quite high on the Hokies chances in the coming weeks. Their playoff predictor for all the top teams in the country has Virginia Tech at a 2% chance of making the College Football Playoff - the 15th team listed. Here’s a look at how they think the season will play out.
- 10/10 - at #9 UNC - 52.3% odds for a VT victory
- 10/17 - home against Boston College - 81% chance of a Hokies win
- 10/24 - at Wake Forest - 73.2% in favor of Tech
- 10/31 - at Louisville - 61% odds for a VT victory
- 11/7 - home against Liberty - 94.4% chance of a Hokies win
- 11/14 - home against #7 Miami - 58.3% in favor of Tech
- 11/21 - at Pittsburgh - 68% odds for a VT victory
- 12/5 - home against #1 Clemson - 22.1% chance of a Hokies win
- 12/12 - home against UVA - 79.1% in favor of Tech
Some of those predictions are expected, but it’s telling that the Hokies are favored on the road against a ranked UNC, even if slightly. As well as against Miami later this year. In fact, the Clemson game is the only spot in the schedule were Tech is predicted not to come out on top.
Now of course there are a lot of ifs and hurdles along this path. As resilient as Tech has been in their first two games, we can’t expect the Hokies to have 20+ players out each week and survive this run. Hopefully VT can continue to isolate those who have tested positive, perform contact tracing quickly, and ramp up the frequency of testing on the players and staff. As much as possible, the team and staff need to remain in a bubble. Even though that is difficult on a larger campus and with staff off-campus. 11 straight weeks without a break is wait Tech faces, fatigue will set in, injuries are inevitable, so limiting the impact of COVID is crucial in how far this team can go.
But ESPN is positive - and I imagine most Tech fans are as well. We haven’t even seen the starting CBs and quarterback feature in the same contest yet. Add in a revitalized running game and excellent special teams and the Hokies have huge potential. Is 10-1 possible? If that were to come to fruition it would be an incredible achievement for Coach Fuente and this team. With that run they would likely finish 2nd in the ACC and face Clemson in the ACC Title game.
One step at a time. UNC is next. Let’s enjoy some more Herbert runs and hope that Hendon Hooker is able to see the field.