There are only six games being played in Lane Stadium this season. Usually, the schedulers seem to manage to get a 7th game from the non-conference slate on Worsham Field, but this season that didn’t happen. It is unfortunate because those games are usually non-conference warm-ups saved for White Outs and such. This season, there aren’t any FCS teams on the schedule, and that means one less home game. In fact, there are actually two B1G games scheduled, this one home, and the Rutgers game in Piscataway. There is the “Humm” factor with scheduling two B1G teams in a season as conference realignment looms and Tech’s open preference for that conference as a new home, but that’s a story for later as things develop on that front. This year, the appearance of two teams from the B1G is significant in that neither program is considered a particular grade of cupcake to an ACC opponent, especially a program like Tech’s which is in a thrashing transition.
The Other Engineering School
So, the first issue is that the visiting Purdue Boilermakers have some issues of their own, that many folks are buttering over. Their team took some serious hits in the off-season since their old coach, who led them to a B1G championship game (they lost that to Michigan 43-22) and decent bowl bid (Citrus – Lost huge to LSU after coaching departure). Purdue did manage a 6-3 conference regular season, that eventually ended in a rather mundane 8-6 record as they lost both their post season efforts by wide margins. They did lose to the ACC’s Syracuse during their non-conference play leaving them with an 8-4 overall for the season (something that Hokie fans would long for) It might speak of the B1G’s western conference being of similar condition to the ACC Coastal’s straights.
All of which brings us to the observation that maybe this game is going to be a bit difficult to really get a predictive grip on. Purdue has a storied past, but recently has been an average performer on the gridiron. Their record hasn’t been bad, and it sometimes is really good, but sometimes it just doesn’t click. Their last coach Jeff Brohm left the program after two relatively good seasons of 9-4 in 2021 and the mentioned 8-5 regular season with a western division championship in 2022. That left them with some serious coaching and recruiting holes that put them a bit behind the power curve. New head coach Ryan Walters wasn’t too shy about hitting the transfer portal for talent. New Head Coach Ryan Walters seems to have found a significant quarterback addition in Texas transfer Hudson Card.
Purdue is 0-1, However...
The week one loss to the Fresno State Bulldogs was a bit on the hard side to take for most B1G fans. Fresno State is a Mountain West, “Group of 5” team with a respectable record and a western “big offense” outlook on the game. Their Game 1 approach was to outscore Purdue in what, in the end, looked like a Big XII shootout. Even with Purdue leading at the half, Fresno State managed to hang with the Boilermakers’ offense and pass them early in the 4th quarter. Purdue would put up a total of seven touchdowns, which should be of primary concern to the Hokies, however. They dropped the game by giving up a touchdown with 1:04 left, and the underdogs claimed a “W.”
That’s not to say that Tech is going to go charging off thinking that they have this one in the bag. Purdue Coach Walters made it abundantly clear that he was not pleased with his defensive meltdown in the 2nd half and squandering a two-score lead was going to be an issue for the game prep coming into Lane Stadium on Saturday.
On the plus side for them, they did score seven touchdowns, Hudson Card was 17-30 for 254 yards two touchdowns and no picks. He also ran for 29 yards. Their leading running back, Devin Mockobee put up 60 total yards with a 3.8-yard average and one touchdown. Their leading receiver is Deion Burks who pulled in 4 receptions, two of which were Card touchdowns.
Overall, Purdue matches up with Tech in more than a few places. Getting the win is going to depend heavily on the Tech defense successfully containing Card scrambles out of trouble and keeping the receiving down. The Card to Burks connection looks ominously like the Wells to Jennings combo, so the defense is going to have to mess that rhythm up.
The Weather Looks to be in the “Not So Good” Range
Weather Underground is saying that Blacksburg is due for an entire day of scattered to guaranteed thunderstorms and temperatures in the low 70’s for kickoff. Given the nature of the situation and the non-conference play it would not be surprising to see the game cancelled or postponed to a mutually available time. Rain is one thing, but the memories of Coach Lee Corso’s rent-a-car going up in flames do not fade, and storms are more often than not a cause for major changes.
We’ll stay up on the reports, but for now things are looking dicey at best.
Odds and O/U
The Wise Guys are pushing a strict homefield advantage on these pretty evenly matched programs. Tech is giving 3 with an O/U of 46.5. That’s a close modest score game so there isn’t much to go on in the way of confidence from the “experts” It’s nearly a pick ‘em so your guess is as good as theirs.
Can Tech Grab This One?
There is nothing in Purdue’s first performance that looked like the Hokies should be “really worried.” Their defense gave up 39 points (22 in the 2nd half). That means either their defense has issues in the passing game, or the coaching staff is going to correct the problem and keep them from having that issue this weekend. One thing is for sure, the weather will be a factor. With storms comes win and driving rain. This might be a slog sort of game with little passing. If the game can safely be played, at all.
Tech needs to have some balance on offense but take advantage of the defensive coverage issues that caused the Boilermaker defense to implode in week 1. It seems that Bowen would be wise to spread it out and go to a more consistent snap/handoff sort of situation, especially in the bad weather. The denial regarding the obvious low snap issue was concerning.
Frankly, this might be a game where it would be best to have a Kyron Drones starting in the deluge where there is little chance for muffing slick pigskins. That’s just me, though. Saturday might be a good day to return to “caveman” football from a Tee or Power “I” formation and lots of running off the edges and counters. We’ll see, but the Hokies do not have an easy opponent in this one, and they certainly don’t have the weather to make their much-improved passing game look particularly effective.
Saturday is going to be smashmouth football or it’ll be a long day of dropped passes, scrambles, and punts. To answer the opening question, yes, Virginia Tech can and should win this game. It’s going to be up to the defense to get the stops, though. Offense might be tough.
This one looks about as close to a toss-up as you can get with as little information as we have.
It’s a noon game with rough weather predicted and two pretty evenly matched teams. What’s going to happen?
This poll is closed
The Hokies have some momentum and some confidence. The defense eventually tightened up and caused turnovers. The offense threw well. Tech beats the spread wins by a TD, but the teams don’t get an over bet.
Purdue has its back up, and its pride on the line. It’s not a shootout but it is a back-and-forth deal where the first team to get a stop wins. Purdue gets the stop. They take the game on a final short drive and QB scramble. Take Purdue and the Points.
Tech’s defense shuts down Purdue enough to allow the Tech offense to gain ground and score steady points in the slop. The Hokies win by three but the under is the better bet with the bad weather predicted.
Mother Nature wins this one. The lightning and conditions cause both teams to agree to cancel or postpone (with the bet on cancel). No one gets Lee Corso’s rent-a-car treatment.
We’ll have predictions and the game notes and awards this evening.