Can the Virginia Tech Hokies avoid a third consecutive loss on Saturday when the Syracuse Orange comes to Blacksburg?
While Syracuse doesn’t entirely present the same challenge as Pitt, the Orange are a competitive team. They’ve lost three consecutive ACC games by three points each week. Last week, Clemson barely beat Syracuse, 17-14.
Here are our staff predictions for Sunday’s game.
I expect a close game on Saturday. Syracuse is going to present a solid challenge for Virginia Tech’s improved defense. The Hokies held up reasonably well on defense last week against the hottest passing team in the ACC. Now, the Hokies will face a different type of offense in the Orange. Syracuse is led by running back Sean Tucker — the best running back in the conference. Tucker has already rushed for 948 yards and nine touchdowns. I believe Syracuse QB Garrett Shrader will present problems for Tech’s defense because of his running ability.
The key to the game is how well Virginia Tech’s offense plays in this game. It’s one of the worst units in all of college football. Can quarterback Braxton Burmeister lead the Hokies on multiple scoring drives? I believe he can — and he will.
While I am not truly confident here, I am taking the Hokies here in a close one.
Virginia Tech 24, Syracuse 20
Head coach, Justin Fuente, and the Virginia Tech Hokies are looking to halt a two-game slide, at Lane, during their fourth home game in a row. I have concerns with the stands being full. It’s an early game and the fanbase seems to be demoralized. Regardless, I hope the fans show up and support the young men on the field and provide that tough Lane Stadium environment. It can only help.
The Syracuse Orange are nine-points away from being 5-1 overall and 3-0 in the ACC. They took Wake Forest, arguably the best team in the conference, into overtime. The Syracuse defense is quietly and deceptively good. They’re solid at halting the run and stonewalling teams on third down conversions. The Hokies offense is tied at 47th regarding third down conversions (36 of 84, 42.9%). The Orange defense is 39th in third down conversions, allowing only 34 of 97 (35.1%).
The Syracuse rushing defense is the biggest concern I have for this game. The Hokies have demonstrated serious issues in the passing game and most of their offensive success has been found on the ground, averaging 131.8 YPG and nine TDs (VT has only thrown six TDs). The Orange has the No. 28 rushing defense, holding opposing teams to only two TDs (!) and 114.1 YPG. Overall, the Hokies are averaging 312.5 YPG and the Orange defense is only allowing 309.0 YPG. Syracuse has a dual-threat QB in Garrett Shrader. Shrader has shown himself to be much more dangerous on the ground than in the air. Against FSU and WF he had 137 yds / three TDs and 178 yds / one TD respectively. Clemson was able to stuff him for only one yard and forced him into passing situations, which resulted in a key interception that helped Clemson squeak by. The other offensive weapon the Hokies must account for is Syracuse RB, Sean Tucker. Tucker has rushed for over 100-yards in every game he has played this season. Against WF he put up 153 yds and two TDs and against Clemson he was held scoreless but averaged 7.1 yards per carry on the way to 157 yards.
As has been the case all season it is incumbent on the Hokie defense to keep them in the game. They must contain Shrader, slow Tucker, and force throwing situations. If VT allows Syracuse to take control of the ground and dictate the game tempo, I do not think the Hokies will win. If Virginia Tech can keep the score low and minimize offensive mistakes, they can win a close game. I think the defense comes through and VT wins a close one at home.
17-13, Virginia Tech
This is a tough pill to swallow. The Hokies have looked down right atrocious on offense. They are in the bottom two teams of the ACC (with Clemson,) at yards per drive and points per drive. This means that even when the defense helps out, they cannot give them time to rest or points to play with. I have no faith in the offensive side of the ball unless Justin Fuente has taken it over rather than working with the scout team. Unfortunately, because he plays his cards so close to the vest, we have no idea if that has happened.
I do believe in the Hokies defense and that Justin Hamilton will have the guys ready to take over as much as possible. I see them forcing a few turnovers and keeping the game close until the 4th quarter.
That being said, I can only go with what I have seen. The Hokies can’t stop the run and they don’t have an offensive game plan that seems to work. While my heart pulls me another way, my head says that this is where Virginia Tech takes a bite of the apple and falls so far down.
28 Orange - 17 Hokies
I am still woozy from last week. So are most of the fans in Hokie Nation. I predicted that IF we didn’t generate any offense the point spread would stay under 50 but Pitt would win by 2+ TDs… I was hoping for some sort of offensive revelation. I guess that just isn’t going to happen. The offense doesn’t work and frankly, I really don’t see the coaching staff in possession of any sort of humility and self awareness to admit that it’s fundamentally broken. That all being said, that reality sets us up for a tough slug through the back half of the season. Syracuse isn’t much better off, and frankly this game has all the trappings of a fight between two drunks. The drunk that pukes on the other one might just end up winning.
I think that the Hokies might just – for pure pride’s sake – take this one on a big time defensive effort and just enough offense to not be completely embarrassing. The Wise Guys are setting the spread at -3 for the Hokies, and that’s pretty much where I think this is going. The O/U is going to, again be south of 50. I am seeing field goals in the dreams. So, that makes 20-17 Hokies.
It could be the other way around, though. That’s how jumbled up and evenly matched these to drunks are.
It feels like Syracuse has almost beaten everyone this season, and we feel like a complete sitting duck. To be honest, nothing would surprise me in this matchup. We could destroy them with our talent advantage. They could run all over us and ruin the debut of our throwback jerseys. That crazy part of all this is that we still only have one conference loss, and lots of us feel like the season is over. Maybe last week was the wake up call the team and staff needed. Maybe it’s the start of a long, brutal finish to the season — one way or another, this game will say a lot about this team. One thing is for sure: Watching it will be excruciating. Anyway, in the spirit of Syracuse losing every game by three points, I’ll take the good guys in a close one.
VT 27 Cuse 24