After last week's blowout loss to Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech enters a critical stretch of their season where almost anything seems possible from winning out to win the Coastal to losing out and missing a bowl game for the first time in more than two decades. Meanwhile, the Hokies face a 22nd-ranked Boston College team that is back to full strength with a healthy AJ Dillon and potentially set for a primetime showdown next Saturday night at home against Clemson if they can get through the Hokies today.
With that said, here are our staff's picks for the Hokies against #22 Boston College.
Virginia Tech enters today knowing that no matter what happens, they will still be in control of their destiny in the Coastal, but this game feels pivotal given the Hokies' recent struggles. Meanwhile, Boston College is looking like the high-powered team that most expected with a healthy AJ Dillon leading the way to a comfortable victory over Miami last week.
Discipline has been an issue for the Hokies from too many penalties to missing tackles by going from big hits instead of simply wrapping up to muffed punts and more. That lack of discipline has been killer for the Hokies and is something that they won't be able to get away with against this experienced Boston College team.
Ryan Willis has given the Hokies a vertical passing threat that has opened up the passing game while his scrambling has saved Virginia Tech at times. However, Willis may not have those opportunities to escape the pocket against a Boston College defense with two of the ACC's best pass rushers in Zach Allen and Wyatt Ray. To offset that, the Hokies will need to find a way to get their rushing attack going whether that's with Steven Peoples, Deshawn McClease, or even the sparsely used Terius Wheatley.
Defensively, the Hokies will be in for a major challenge against a balanced, high-powered Boston College offense highlighted by one of America's best RBs, AJ Dillon. Expect the Eagles to go to Dillon early and often trying to create one-on-one matchups on the outside for Anthony Brown to attack on play action passes. For the Hokies, they will need a banged up front 7 to step up and find a way to contain Dillon, allowing Bud Foster to give his struggling cornerbacks much-needed safety help.
Expect Virginia Tech to have a much better performance this week than they did against Georgia Tech along with a close, fairly high-scoring game. However, Boston College is the better team and a balanced offensive attack along with timely big plays on defense will lead the Eagles to a win over the Hokies to set up a likely primetime showdown with Clemson at Chestnut Hill next Saturday.
Pick: #22 Boston College 34, Virginia Tech 28
The Hokies enter this game with a 4-3 record while Boston College is 6-2 and ranked 22nd in the country. This isn’t going to be an easy one for Tech, but it should be somewhat of a close game.
On the offensive side of the ball, Tech needs to do what it did on the first three series of the Georgia Tech game - get in their rhythm and drive down the field. If they can do that, the Hokies have a chance.
Willis needs to go through his progressions, move around, and take care of the ball, not turning it over. He’s done a pretty good job of that but turnovers will be costly in this close of a game.
The offensive line was decent against GT but there were a few penalties. Cutting those down is the biggest thing, along with giving Willis time to throw.
The receivers were good last game but a few balls went through their hands - they just need to be more consistent. The running game will have to be decent to give Tech a chance, but I think this is the game that McClease, Peoples and the rest of the crew start to figure it out.
On the defensive side of the ball, it’s going to be tough, especially if Rivers and Ashby can’t go. The young linebackers are going to be in trouble all game, but Deablo, Ladler (in the 2nd half), and Floyd will have to help the young bucks stick to their assignments.
Ricky Walker and Houshun Gaines need to get more pressure up front. Last game, they were getting chop-blocked almost every play. This is a different scheme but they need to get pressure if Bud Foster’s defense is to be successful.
Besides that, the corners have to be solid one-on-one and help the run-game any chance they can. AJ Dillon is a monster at running back so the Hokies will want to get a push up front early and make sure that Dax and the other linebackers are aware of what is going on.
The Hokies always need to be solid on special teams - that did not happen last week and was the reason the momentum and game shifted hands. Has Fuente finally found someone to punt return that can catch the ball and be careful not to turn it over? We will see.
I think the Hokies lose a close one in Lane. I think this gives Tech fans a chance of hope but I think Dillon and the BC run game are too much for the Tech defense in what could be a shootout.
Pick: #22 Boston College 28, Virginia Tech 20
There are 4 games left in this season, which means 4 opportunities to go 1-0 for the Hokies. Coming off arguably their worst performance in the Justin Fuente era, the Hokies have their backs firmly against the wall. They either have to play a whole lot better or risk losing not only a chance at playing in the ACC title game, but the bowl streak and our winning streak against UVA.
Boston College comes to town this homecoming Saturday and brings with it a potent rushing attack. AJ Dillon is one of the best backs in the country and presents a very tough task for the defense. The defense who were shredded on the ground by Georgia Tech in their last outing will look to be worlds better. I think Ricky Walker takes it upon himself to reestablish the lunch pail
D mentality and control this game from the start. Look for the Hokies to return to a stingy front against the run as a more traditional rushing attack is thrown at them.
The offense is also searching for answers as they need to find a way to score more consistently. Ryan Willis and company will need to have longer drives in order to protect the defense a bit. Look for the Hokies to try and establish their own rushing attack with Steven Peoples to try and control this game. Willis, who has passed the ball well for the most part, will also need to make timely plays for the Hokies to win this one.
It’s a Homecoming game and you are supposed to win those with ease. However, I don’t see this being as easy as many would like. I think VT does get the win but once again forces fans to sweat a bit. 31-24 with the Hokies making a play to force a turnover being the difference. As always fans LETS GO HOKIES!!!
Pick: Virginia Tech 31, #22 Boston College 24
Photo Credit: Harley Taylor
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