The No. 19 Virginia Tech Hokies return to action on Saturday and host the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders. The Hokies are looking to get to 2-0 on the season before next week’s showdown in Morgantown against old rival West Virginia.
But first, the Hokies must take down the Blue Raiders. This is the the first-ever meeting between these two schools.
Now, onto our staff predictions for Saturday’s game.
The Hokies are going to win this game. I am trying to ignore last week’s UNC game as enter my prediction. We’ve seen this happen far too many times over the years. The Hokies overlook a lesser opponent and either suffer a shocking upset or are battling for the win late in the fourth quarter.
I don’t think head coach Justin Fuente allows his team to look past Middle Tennessee. The Hokies must start fast — and they will. They enjoyed playing Middle Tennessee quarterback Bailey Hockman last season. I think they will again on Saturday.
Virginia Tech’s running game gets going while quarterback Braxton Burmeister continues to get on the same page as all of his receivers. The Hokies will roll.
Virginia Tech 41, Middle Tennessee 10
The Hokies are coming off their best win in the last five years, but early-season wins can be deceiving. I cannot help but think about the opening game of 2018 when the Hokies went to Tallahassee and beat up on then-No. 19 Florida State, 24-3. Three short weeks later, then-No. 13 Virginia Tech suffered the infamous 49-35 loss to Old Dominion and finished the regular season 6-6. That touted Seminole squad finished a dismal 5-7. The point of this trip down memory lane is to say… yeah, VT beat a top ten UNC squad, but we cannot put too much trust into that victory. North Carolina could easily be overrated. The VT defense played lights out, but I saw the same offensive deficiencies that have been on display for the last five years. The Hokies simply cannot start to believe in the No. 19 / No. 20 ranking they have achieved. The Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders opened their 2021 season by demolishing the Monmouth Hawks, 50-15. The Hawks are an FCS squad, but over the last four years, they have been one of the better FCS programs. By any measure, the Hokies are head and shoulders beyond the talent of the Blue Raiders. MTSU is starting a pair of transfer running backs that sat out last season and a new QB. Their offensive line allowed two sacks and 11 TFL against Monmouth. I expect Tech’s defensive line to eat them alive. Defensive scores are a reasonable expectation. In fact, I think the Hokie defense might be able to win this game on their own. Beyond the talent and athleticism advantage VT brings to the field, Middle Tennessee must come into Lane. Hopefully, the offensive coaching staff uses this opportunity to explore the potential of more diverse and exciting plays, in hopes of getting some reps and sets before they face off against stiffer opponents. I have no doubt that the Hokies are going to dominate, but I also don’t think this game is going to do much to really show what level this VT squad can achieve. VT crushes MTSU.
45-7, Virginia Tech
Where are you supposed to go with a prediction against a program that has never appeared on Virginia Tech’s football radar. The baseball team has regularly played a series against MTU, but never the football team. The Blue Raiders are a Conference-USA team... meaning Group of 5, and a newish program on any sports horizon. They are 1-0 having beaten up Monmouth which is a pretty highly thought of and ranked FCS team. The ranking didn’t help them against the Blue Raiders who put 50 points on the board. The breakdown of the game was interesting enough because MTU doesn’t seem to have a very consistent running game. Their entire effort looked to be passes and short runs on short fields. So the Blue Raiders look like they might have a pretty stout defense. Their offensive line and running backs don’t look to be that powerful, though. The reality is that the Hokies SHOULD win this football game and should win it within the odds parameters laid out by the wise guys... 15.5 spread and a 54 point O/U which translates into a blowout for Tech. The first thing that the Hokies need to do is to put last Friday behind them. The 2nd thing to do is to remember that this program has a history of playing down to an early warmup program and it’s absolutely critical for them to take the Blue Raiders seriously. If they do it should be a fun afternoon. I am not predicting any real garbage time, though that would be nice, because such guesses have landed me in WAG hot water.
IF they do their jobs, the game shouldn’t be close and Tech should walk off the field with 35 or so points to only a marginal score or two for MTU.
I’m not going to lie, I’m nervous. I’m nervous because we’re Virginia Tech, and we’ve had as many statement wins ourselves as we’ve given program changing wins to others. I’m nervous that this could be the Bailey Hockman revenge game, after our defense took away his starting job. What I’m not nervous about? That this Middle Tennessee team could possibly match our talent level. We should win, and I’ll predict a solid 35-10, victory, but we’ll all be on the edges of our seats until it’s West Virginia week.