It's been two weeks since the Virginia Tech Hokies have taken the field, but they're set to return to action this afternoon against Old Dominion. The Hokies travel to the Virginia Tidewater region for the first time in over 30 years for a matchup with in-state opponent ODU.
Virginia Tech enters today's game as 28-point favorites over the Monarchs, but the team is not overlooking their opponent at all. While it should be an easy win for the Hokies, smaller teams can present trouble when least expected. Here are our picks for today's game between the No. 13 Hokies and the home team Monarchs.
Virginia Tech enters this game as the overwhelming favorite and there's no reason to think that this game will be any sort of trap for the Hokies. In addition to this being an in-state matchup, the fact that this game is in the 757, the home of a significant portion of VT's roster, and the fact that ODU is one of the worst FBS teams is a combination for another massive rout.
Expect some of the Hokies' top 757 stars to shine in their return to their home turf including Deshawn McClease who will be looking to regain some momentum after fumbling against William & Mary and averaging less than 5 yards per carry on 10+ carries for the first time in his collegiate career. Overall, the Hokies' offense found some rhythm against William & Mary and against a struggling ODU defense, there's no reason to think that'll stop.
Meanwhile, the Hokies' defense may not shut out the Monarchs like they did in Blacksburg last year, but you can expect them to have a strong performance with backups like Dax Hollifield, Rico Kearney, and Devon Hunter getting a few first team reps before taking over in the second half with the second team defense.
This game has all the makings of a rout and even the 27.5-point line is favorable for anyone leaning towards the Hokies. Though VT may not get a shut out this year, expect the Hokies to put on a showcase in a dominant performance in all three phases of the games.
Pick: #13 Virginia Tech 52, Old Dominion 7
Last week's unexpected bye gave the Hokies a chance to rest and recover following the first two weeks of the season. The week off was especially beneficial to DT Ricky Walker, who hurt his foot in the William and Mary game. With that time off, Virginia Tech should be ready to go when kickoff rolls around against Old Dominion.
The two teams have only ever met on the gridiron once, with Virginia Tech winning 38-0 last season in Blacksburg. This season's matchup shouldn't be much different, as the Hokies have looked strong in their first two games and the Monarchs, not so much. ODU has started the season 0-3, their closest game coming in a 28-25 loss against UNC Charlotte last weekend.
The Hokies, on the other hand, have been impressive so far. Virginia Tech's defense has surprised many with its talented youth, limiting Florida State to just three points before allowing 17 against William and Mary. The Hokies running game has improved as well, with Virginia Tech backs rushing for 305 yards against W&M, the most in the Justin Fuente era. Between Virginia Tech's solid start to 2018 and ODU's struggles, this game should be an easy one for the Hokies to walk away with a win.
Pick: #13 Virginia Tech 42, Old Dominion 10
The Hokies will play in Norfolk this weekend (I will be present at the game) for the first time since the 80s, and it is going to be a regular occurrence over the next few years. Both teams should also get used to the Hokies beating up on the Monarchs, a situation that will happen plenty of times in the future, including our game this week.
Jackson and the offense need to gain their footing after having a week off, but I don’t think he will have to do much in a blowout. Jackson will throw for a few scores and complete most of his passes and leave in the third quarter, getting Hooker and Willis some playing time. The running backs - Peoples, McClease, Holston, and Wheatley - will have solid games on the ground tomorrow and will put the game away early. I’m interested to see if the running backs can hold onto the ball this game better than they did two weeks ago against William and Mary. I’d also like to see how well the offensive line works out, specifically who is playing at center with Hoyt messing up a few snaps the last few games and the OL shifting positions around. As for the wide receivers, they will make the most of their opportunities.
On the defensive side, it shouldn’t be too complicated of a game for the Hokies. The defensive line should shut down most of the running game and the young linebackers will get some much-needed reps in this game. The secondary will be tested but it should be a clean game for Bud’s squad. Their toughest challenge yet comes next week.
The only downside of this game is that the Hokies won’t be very tested going into next week’s match at Duke, another game I will be at. Duke has looked really good this season and has had more of a test than Tech has so far, so a win this week and next week’s game will be even more interesting. It will be a fun game this week for the players from the 757, and hopefully we come away with no injuries.
Pick: #13 Virginia Tech 45, Old Dominion 7
Unfortunately, we did not get to watch any Virginia Tech football last weekend. However, East Carolina made the right decision in order to ensure their safety. The Tech Lunch Pail staff sends our prayers for a quick recovery to Greenville and anyone who was affected by Hurricane Florence in the Carolinas or elsewhere. The good news is that the storm has passed, and we get to watch some Hokies football on Saturday.
Virginia Tech travels to the 757 area for the first time in over 30 years to take on Old Dominion in Norfolk. The Monarchs are a measly 0-3 this year, and it is not as if they have faced incredibly stiff competition. Their losses have come to Liberty (in an ugly 52-10 beat down), FIU (28-20), and Charlotte (28-25). It’s a good sign for Old Dominion that they are shrinking the points differential, but Virginia Tech is a different caliber team than Charlotte.
Two weeks ago before the William & Mary game, I would not have expected the Hokies to put up 62 points. My prediction would have been something like 35-6. Yet the Hokies happily surprised me by showing an offense that was able to score at all against an inferior opponent. In Jeff Sagarin's rankings on USA Today, which take into account a lot of different numbers and stats that frankly I don’t fully understand, Old Dominion is 180th, and William & Mary is 187th. That would suggest that the Monarchs are really not much better than the Tribe.
Does that mean Hokies fans should expect another 45 point victory? Maybe not. After all, this is technically a road game, despite the number of Tech fans that are expected to be there. However, I do expect another solid performance, and I’m looking to see the Hokies cover the 28 point spread.
Pick: #13 Virginia Tech 41, Old Dominion 10
It's been two weeks since the Hokies last game. This two week period was hopefully a great time of recovery and sharp practicing. Maybe in the past you would be worried about the Hokies coming off a little rusty after such a long length of time not playing. Especially against teams that they should easily beat. But I have confidence that Coach Fuente has been prepping this team to go out there tomorrow looking crisp both offensively and defensively. It certainly helps that the Hokies are playing an Old Dominion team that is 0-3.
Offensively, I see the Hokies running the ball as much as they did against William & Mary if not more. Steven Peoples has a good chance of leading the team in both rushing yards and touchdowns tomorrow. I predict Damon Hazelton Jr. having at least 2 receiving touchdowns as well.
Defensively, the defensive line should have a great day of getting pressure on the quarterback. Trevon Hill is a player I can see making plays especially disrupting ODUs run game. I also predict Houshun Gaines leading the defense in sacks.
Pick: #13 Virginia Tech 63, Old Dominion 10