The No. 15 Virginia Tech Hokies are back in Morgantown for the first time since 2005 to face the West Virginia Mountaineers on Saturday. It’s a noon kickoff at Milan Puskar Stadium for the 2-0 Hokies and the 1-1 Mountaineers.
Now, it’s time for our predictions.
In my original game preview, I have the Mountaineers defeating the Hokies by a field goal. I can’t escape the bad feeling I have about this game. Perhaps, part of me is picking the Hokies to lose is part of my strategy.
I think if this game was in Blacksburg, the Hokies win by at least 10 points. However, Morgantown is a tough place to play, and WVU fans have been waiting for the Hokies to return for the first time since 2005.
West Virginia has talented playmakers on offense. We have to hope Neal Brown plays Jarret Doege more and leaves Garrett Greene on the bench. I say this because Greene can run, and we know the chaos that has created for the Hokies in the past. But this WVU team is better on defense, at least in the early stages of the season.
The Hokies need Braxton Burmeister to make more plays down the field on Saturday. He’s been hesitant to take chances in the first two weeks. If he’s more aggressive on Saturday, I believe the Hokies win. If he stays conservative, allowing WVU to inch closer to the line of scrimmage because there is no fear of the passing game, I think West Virginia wins.
For now, I will stick with my original prediction (I hope I am wrong).
WVU 27, Virginia Tech 24
This game is annoying. It’s one of those weird situations where logic dictates that no one should be worrying. West Virginia is not a good football team. They have a few strengths here and there, but they had a horrible record in 2019, and 2020 was only rescued by their weak divisional opponents… The BIG XII is famous for having no defenses and no time for recruiting and developing them. Any modest +.500 status from the COVID insanity season is pure luck. As to this season? The two games that they have played… well, one game. They lost that one to Maryland. Sorry, that speaks poorly for any team the Terps are flat awful and haven’t been significant for anything other than being a BIG 10 Homecoming cupcake. Then WVA beat up on CW Post (now Long Island University) which is barely a Division I FCS program. Sorry guys, their 2021 resume is sorely lacking for the amount of confidence people are giving them.
Tech’s Offense might be problematic, but somehow we forget that it held its own against North Carolina, and then after a sort of diddling slow 2nd quarter, last Saturday, unlimbered and blew the doors off of a decent G5 Middle Tennessee State team. The score should have been 35-7 if you properly remove the gift Garbage Time touchdown granted to the Blue Raiders by the refs. And the Virginia Tech Defense is showing all of the signs of being a serious Virginia Tech heyday level defense.
There is always the possibility of a breakdown, but I don’t see it as a reasonable probability. This game has all the makings of something that ends up being a pull away where it’s close-ish in the first half, and then the average Mountaineer O-Line and their immobile QB are going to eventually have difficulty moving the ball.
Tech wins in either a close game scenario or a pull away. If it’s close: 35-24 Hokies, If it’s a pull away and the Defense works: 42-13 Hokies.
The last time the Hokies invaded Morgantown they were ranked No. 3 in the country and I had just graduated. Since that time VT and WVU have only faced off a single time. Once one of the premier rivalries, in the disappeared Big East football conference, the animosity has since extinguished. Sure, the players, coaches, and students can understand that once it was a heated meeting, but now I think it might simply be better categorized as Virginia Tech’s first away game of the season. I say that because, though the VT and WVU media have tried to play up the history between the two programs, I don’t think it actually feels like a rivalry game. With that, I don’t think it will bring the same emotional intensity as say, the UVA game. This early in the season, both teams are hard to get a feel for. WVU has a close loss to a 3-0 Maryland squad, but the Terps’ most notable victory is West Virginia. The other two are Howard and Illinois (who they also barely beat). I believe the athleticism for the Hokies outstrips the Mountaineers, but the VT offense always gives me concern. Against Maryland, West Virginia was turnover prone and struggled to get a ground game going. They seem ripe for the picking against Justin Hamilton’s revitalized VT defense. WVU’s defense gave up 496 yards to the Terps, which should bode well for the Hokie’s vanilla offensive scheme. This is a game Virginia Tech should win.
34-13, Virginia Tech Hokies