For the first time since 2019, Virginia Tech is playing a November football game that is relevant beyond the pursuit of a bowl game, as they battle for second place in the ACC with #13 Louisville. The Cardinals have emerged as the clear favorite to face Florida State in the ACC Championship, but the Hokies control their own destiny and have the chance to pull off a big victory to claim second in the conference as the only team with one ACC loss.
So with that said, here are my four things to watch for the Hokies against the Cardinals.
1. Can VT Get Off to a Good Start?
One of the biggest issues for Virginia Tech throughout the season has been their poor starts. That issue proved fatal in three of their four losses at Florida State and Rutgers, and at home to Purdue. Tech did rally in all three games but used a lot to get back in those games with FSU's superior talent ti cruise in the end, Rutgers shredding Tech's run defense, and Purdue wearing down an injured Grant Wells and VT defense that had no offensive support.
Even in their recent victories over Pittsburgh and Wake Forest, the Hokies didn't exactly get off to the best starts.
Last week was a big step in the right direction with the Hokies leading 30-3 at halftime including 13-0 after the opening 15 minutes. Getting off to better starts was a point of emphasis during the bye week for the Hokies, so seeing progress should be encouraging to say the least.
Louisville will be a tougher test as the Cardinals have outscored their opponents in the first quarter in six of eight games, and haven't had a first quarter deficit once this season.
When you're playing in a hostile environment, you can't let yourselves get in a big hole early and allow the home team to have great control of the game. You especially can't do that against a Louisville team that has one of the best running backs in America in Jawhar Jordan. Now Louisville can throw the ball fairly well but if you're the Hokies, you don't want to put Louisville in a position to dictate this game with Jordan and their rushing attack.
If Tech can get off to a strong start in this game, they'll have a great chance to pull off the upset. If not, the focus shifts back to Tech's bowl hopes with their ACC Championship being small with a loss.