Photo Credit: ACC Media
After a tough loss at North Carolina last week, #23 Virginia Tech returns home looking to bounce back with a win knowing they're one loss away from being out of the picture in the race to reach the ACC Championship. Meanwhile, Boston College has been a pleasant surprise so far this season and knows that a win today will likely send them into the top 25.
So will the Hokies or Eagles come out on top? Check out our staff's picks.
Virginia Tech is rightfully the favorite, but Boston College is definitely not a slouch or a conventional BC team as they are running the ball terribly, but have a really good passing attack. Meanwhile, it's the Hokies who have the better running game led by Khalil Herbert.
Tech's rush defense had a nightmare of a game last week, but this may be as good of a landing spot for a bounce back performance against a BC team who's averaging 1.9 yards per carry with their top 2 backs each averaging 3.1 per carry. However, Phil Jurkovec has been a revelation at QB while they also have a pair of talented playmakers in TE Hunter Long and WR Zay Flowers who will both give Tech challenges.
Meanwhile, BC has a solid defense, but this Tech offense is as good as any BC has faced with the Hokies also benefitting from the fact that this game is in Blacksburg and not Chestnut Hill. Khalil Herbert seems poised for another big day while a full game of Hendon Hooker could mean Tech breaks 40 points for the third time in their first four games of this season.
Tech's defense is also getting healthier and that means almost as much as anything at this point especially with Divine Deablo expected to return and Tech's secondary mostly having a full week of practice to prep rather than scattered returns. The Eagles will put up a good fight, but the Hokies will take care of business in what will be a high-scoring game.
Pick: #23 Virginia Tech 42, Boston College 31
The Eagles come into this game with a surprising 3-1 record after hiring former Ohio State coordinator Jeff Hafley as the head coach. He has done a remarkable job instilling an energy in the program thus far, with both the offense and defense overperforming compared to initial season predictions. This will not be an easy game for the Hokies, although oddsmakers think Tech is at least a near two-score favorite (VT -13).
More than anything, Virginia Tech needs to have a good showing defensively after last week's poor performance in Chapel Hill especially against the run. Luckily for them, Boston College may have the worst rushing attack in the conference, as they have only topped three yards per carry just once in four games and it was against Texas State. If the Hokies can't stymie this rushing attack, Justin Hamilton may need to rethink his scheme despite BC's David Bailey being a talented running back.
However, Boston College would be fine abandoning the run game if it needs to, as quarterback Phil Jurkovec has quietly put together a solid season averaging 8.2 AY/A while sporting an 8-2 TD-INT ratio. Since the Hokies are expected to have Divine Deablo returning at safety, there should be more confidence that they should be able to hold up in the secondary should the Eagles decide to air it out.
On the offensive side of the football, the Hokies will start a deserving Hendon Hooker after his offensive output last week in the second half. Boston College's defense has been decent against the run given their strengths up the spine of the defense linebacker Max Richardson patrolling the middle of the field.
The Hokies' offensive line should be good enough to match up well with BC's front seven, allowing running back Khalil Herbert to continue stacking up yards for his early season Heisman campaign. Hendon Hooker may not have to be superman for the Hokies to win this one, but he will have to be patient and effective on third down to help the Hokies string together long drives against a solid defense.
Overall, the Hokies match up relatively well against Boston College. The Eagles' run game is not as daunting as UNC's, and with Deablo likely back, the secondary should play better. Boston College's defense is good, but the Hokies should be able to consistently gain yards on the ground to stay ahead of the sticks.
Pick: #23 Virginia Tech 30, Boston College 20
It’s Homecoming Weekend for the Hokies as they return to Blacksburg looking to get their season back on track after last week’s shootout loss.
For the first time this season, the Hokies will match up against a team outside the state of North Carolina, with this one being a surprising Boston College squad that has jumped out to a 3-1 start on the season.
There’s no question that the Hokies have a lethal offense on their hands with scores of 45, 38 and 45 in their first three matchups of the season, but the defense has created much uncertainty in the first quarter of 2020.
There are a few positives to look forward to in this week’s matchup headlined by the expected returns of some solid secondary pieces including starting free safety Divine Deablo, who has missed the last two weeks of action.
Defensive coordinator Justin Hamiliton will also get an opportunity to work with most of his defensive standouts for the first time this season, and it couldn’t come at a better time for the Hokies with the defense being close to full strength after having major absences in Hamilton's return last Saturday.
Transfer quarterback Phil Jurkovec for Boston College has been prevailing these last two weeks with 5 touchdowns and 0 interceptions against ACC foes North Carolina and Pittsburgh. On the year, the sophomore has a passer rating of 145.1 as well as 8 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions.
The Eagles also possess one of the best breakout players in the ACC this year in wide receiver Zay Flowers, who is coming off a week in which he recorded 6 receptions for 162 yards and 3 touchdowns. Compared to his numbers last season, Flowers has already surpassed his receiving yards and is one reception shy of matching his total catches.
For the Virginia Tech offense, they have one of the best running backs in the nation in Khalil Herbert and they will look to utilize him at a high level again versus Boston College.
The graduate transfer has started to formulate a Heisman resumé with his 449 rushing yards and 5 touchdowns in the young season, but has tallied 244 returning yards on only 7 returns for the Hokies.
Virginia Tech will have a pretty favorable stretch of games on their schedule starting this week, but they must make sure that there are no slip ups from here on out to keep themselves in contention for the ACC Championship in December.
I believe the Hokies will take care of business against Boston College and get their season going in the right direction again.
Pick: #23 Virginia Tech 42, Boston College 31
The Hokies dropped to 2-1 on the season last week after a crushing loss to the North Carolina Tar Heels.
While Virginia Tech almost regained the lead during an impressive tird quarter, North Carolina proved to be too much for the Hokies, winning 56-45. As a result, Virginia Tech dropped four spots in the AP Poll, entering this week ranked 23rd.
The Hokies will look to rebound against Boston College on Saturday.
I think that Virginia Tech has a couple of things going in its favor in its attempt to respond from last week's loss.
First, the major change this week comes at quarterback, as Justin Fuente gave Hendon Hooker the nod. The Hokies offense was noticeably better during Hooker's limited action against North Carolina. I expect Hooker to run the offense much better than Braxton Burmeister, and that can only help the Hokies, especially if the defense continues to struggle.
Second, this will be the first game at home for the team in two weeks. Although this year doesn’t have the fan impact on home and away games, the travel component still plays a role. Playing in Blacksburg will give the team some rest after back to back weeks traveling down south.
Third, the number of players and coaches missing due to COVID has steadily gone down every week. After missing 23 team members in the team’s first game, Virginia Tech had a little under that in game two, and got the number down to fifteen against UNC. I expect the number of absences to be even lower this week, and the healthier the roster is, the better the team will perform.
I expect the Hokies to more than rebound from last week’s loss and dismantle Boston College, proving they are a team to look out for in the ACC.