Photo Credit: ACC Media
After a bye week, Virginia Tech returns looking to snap their three-game losing streak but face the monumental task of trying to shock the world and upset #3 Clemson. Meanwhile, the Tigers know that a win secures their ACC Championship bid and have been playing some of their best football of late.
So will the Hokies shock the world or will the Tigers win and even cover the 22-point spread? Here are our picks for Virginia Tech vs. Clemson.
Virginia Tech has fallen into a tailspin after a shocking loss to Liberty, a painful fourth quarter collapse against Miami, and a complete disaster against Pittsburgh. Now, the Hokies have had a week to rest up and prepare but the task is monumental against #3 Clemson and the spread is rightfully the largest against the Hokies since Tech's game against West Virginia in 1988, the second season of the Frank Beamer era with VT still dealing with sanctions from the Bill Dooley era.
Tech is going to need to find some unusual plays to pull off the upset and it starts with needing their unexpected struggles returning punts to change. They also are going to need their defense to find a way to get some early stops and for the offense to get off to a fast start, something that has been inconsistent throughout the season.
Clemson's defense isn't as good as they've been in the past, and the duo of Hendon Hooker and Khalil Herbert could both have strong games. However, this defense has gotten better recently especially with the return of Clemson LB James Skalski to boost the heart of it. Andrew Booth at CB could also give Tre Turner his biggest challenge of the season to date.
Meanwhile, Tech's defense has shown life at times including against Miami, but this could be a very long night against Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne with both firing on all cylinders. Additionally, this could be a showcase game in some ways for Clemson OC Tony Elliott who has received more attention from Tech fans lately as the heat on Justin Fuente increased significantly during November.
Tech is going need a miracle to pull off this upset but there are no signs that this team has it in them. Clemson is playing the best they have all season since their loss to Notre Dame and will cruise to victory, covering the massive spread in the process.
Pick: #3 Clemson 52, Virginia Tech 20
The day that Hokie fans have been ambivalent about has arrived, as one of the most complete teams in the nation comes to Blacksburg.
After having one of the toughest Novembers in program history with losses to Liberty, Miami and Pittsburgh, the Hokies are catching the Tigers at the wrong time.
Over the course of the four previous games, the Hokies point totals in games have dropped starting with Louisville, where Virginia Tech was able to produce 42 points. But most recently, the Hokies struggled to get anything going outside of Tré Turner against Pittsburgh, accumulating 14 pints.
On the bright side for the Hokies, they still hold a strong lead within the ACC for rushing yards per game (250.9), nearly 25 more yards more than second place Notre Dame.
The Tigers have had one of the ACC's best rush defenses allowing only 113.2 rushing yards per game, ranking third in the ACC in that category.
Fortunately for Virginia Tech, they were able to have an extended Thanksgiving break on their schedule after nearly completing two straight months of football without an open date.
Unfortunately for the Hokies, the Clemson Tigers possess one of the most lethal QB-RB duos in the country with Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne.
Lawrence has been highly regarded as the #1 overall draft prospect in the country and his junior season has displayed why. In his seven appearances, he has a 19-2 TD/INT ratio with 319.4 passing yards per game and a 178.7 passing efficiency.
Etienne has submitted himself into the ACC record books after surpassing the ACC rushing yards record previously held by N.C. State’s Tim Brown when he played for the Wolfpack from 1975-78. He currently sits at 4730 career rushing yards in his four seasons with the Tigers.
The senior running back has received lots of touches with 692 rushing yards on 132 carries and 511 receiving yards on 40 receptions, proving to be quite versatile for the Tigers this season.
Those two alone could give the Hokies defense nightmares as they come into this week’s matchup with the worst total defense in the ACC allowing 463 total yards per game.
The question for the Hokies coming into this primetime matchup is: What could they possibly do to stop the Clemson Tigers?
One thing for sure, I don’t have that answer. And I wouldn’t be surprised if Coach Fuente, like many other excelled college football coaches have had, doesn't have the answer as well.
I just don’t see a logical outcome of where the Hokies can come into this matchup and pull off the upset.
Virginia Tech will probably need everything to go their way for a fighting chance as well as Clemson running into some difficulty along the way. But hey, that’s why they play the game.