Photo Credit: ACC Media
Virginia Tech kicks off an exciting final stretch of games today with four out of five at home including three against ranked opponents. The first of those ranked opponents comes today in the form of #25 Liberty which has gotten off to a surprising 6-0 start, and has their eyes on pulling off the upset to stay ranked and undefeated.
So will the Hokies take care of business ahead of next week's showdown with Miami? Here are our picks for the Hokies and Flames.
Liberty has been a major surprise at 6-0, but they also have faced a very lackluster schedule with a road win at Syracuse being their best victory to date. While the Flames should be able to make this somewhat interesting early, there's no reason not to think that the Hokies can take care of business pretty easily.
Part of that is simply how this Tech team has seemed to play some of their best football at home including their dominant season opener and 40-14 victory against Boston College a few weeks ago. Tech took firm control in the first half and never gave either team much of a chance to get back in it in the second half due to their rushing attack that can be impossible to stop and churns lots of clock in the process.
Now the one thing that could boost Liberty's hopes significantly is the dual-threat playmaker they have at QB in Malik Willis. If the Hokies can't contain Willis, who is averaging 7 yards per carry this season, this could be an intense, four-quarter game.
In the end, Tech will not overlook this game not forgetting some of their past shock losses and expose the talent difference between themselves and Liberty led by a dominant performance on the ground from Khalil Herbert and Tech's offensive line.
Pick: Virginia Tech 45, #25 Liberty 20
The Hokies look to build off the perfect response in last week’s victory, as they look to secure another home victory against the Liberty Flames.
After suffering a set-back loss to the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, the Hokies made sure to not let another game slip pass them as they improved their record to 4-2 on the year in their win at Louisville
Looking into this weekend’s matchup with the early September mindset, you would not have imagined the storylines coming up between the Hokies and the Flames.
For Liberty, they have jumped out to a 6-0 record and for the first time in program history, they have been ranked within the AP Top 25 at No. 25 in the nation.
For the Hokies, they sit on the outside looking in but could definitely put themselves back into Top 25 consideration after this weekend.
The star player for the Flames is no doubt Malik Willis, a former Auburn quarterback who previously was committed to the Hokies but later flipped his commitment to the Tigers.
He’s been outstanding for Liberty and a big reason for their success as his dual-threat capabilities help lead the Flames in passing yards (1122) and rushing yards (495) on the season.
As an independent school within the FBS, the Flames have been able to schedule matchups against ACC opponents including the Syracuse Orange, who they defeated 38-21 at the Carrier Dome.
Looking at Virginia Tech, they stuck to the basics last weekend and had a solid road win which was led by their offense which seemed to be non-existent against the Demon Deacons.
Running back Khalil Herbert led the way once again with 147 rushing yards, keeping him on top of the ACC with rushing yards per game (133.8).
At the quarterback position, Hendon Hooker is back and healthy as he was comfortable against the Cardinals completing all ten of his passes for 183 yards.
I was nervous looking at the start of the season that this would be a trap game for the Hokies as the Flames are their lone non-conference opponent on their 2020 schedule, but the way that Liberty has performed this season, I expect Virginia Tech to come out and treat this matchup as a significant TEST for their season.
No one has been able to stop Liberty yet this season but in this matchup, I see the Hokies coming out on top and ending the Flames' perfect run.
Pick: Virginia Tech 35, #24 Liberty 24
Virginia Tech enters this game against Liberty coming off a bounce back 42-35 win against Louisville last week.
The Hokies put a beat down on the Cardinals, racking up 283 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. Khalil Herbert added 147 yards and a score to his Heisman resume.
Liberty is the only non-ACC team that Virginia Tech will face all year, but there’s no reason to count them out. After a 6-0 start, the Flames earned the 25th slot in this week's AP Poll.
For the seventh week in a row, the Hokies will look to have an even shorter list of players out due to COVID. If this trend continues, Virginia Tech can only benefit.
While the Hokies are 16.5 point favorites going into this game, the Flames should not be overlooked. What originally appeared to be a potential trap game has turned into what could be one of Virginia Tech’s tougher matchups this season.
The key to a Hokies victory is simple: establish the running game. If Khalil Herbert can churn out chunk yardage plays early and often, Virginia Tech will be in a good position to come out with a win on Saturday.