Sons of Game Picks: Week 2 - #19 Virginia Tech vs. Middle Tennessee State University
Let's not look ahead just yet.
Virginia Tech is coming off, quite possibly, the largest win of Justin Fuente's tumultuous career as the lead whistle in Blacksburg going into the match-up with Middle Tennessee State University on Saturday afternoon.
As of the time this article was written the Hokies are 19.5 or 20 point favorites over the Blue Raiders depending on the betting site you're using, which means Vegas is expecting Tech to win by nearly three touchdowns.
I think 99.99% of Tech fans would agree that the Hokies should win this game easily. On talent alone, Virginia Tech should win this game even if they sleepwalk through it as they look ahead to Morgantown the following weekend. The only nagging issue is that Fuente teams as of late tend to play down to their opponent during these "tune up" games. There are plenty of examples, such as Furman 2019 where Tech barely won, Rhode Island 2019 where at one point in the 3rd quarter Tech was only leading by a field goal, and of course the infamous 2018 ODU debacle where Tech lost.
The only way Tech falls into that trap again is if they get off to a slow start scoring which allows MTSU to stick around. If Tech puts up 21 points in the first quarter the game should be pretty much put away before halftime, but if it's only 10-0 or 14-3 at halftime that may give MTSU the faintest bit of hope in the 2nd half.
This is how we see the game going:
Adam Rothe - Virginia Tech - 28-10
The Virginia Tech defense channeled vintage Hokie teams against UNC with 6 sacks and 3 interceptions. The alleged high-octane UNC offense that most were expecting was given a rude awakening by Justin Hamilton and his staff. So, for now at least, the Hokie defense is not a concern of mine yet. However, the Hokie offense was, for lack of better words, average in terms of scoring. There is still limited proof that shows Braxton Burmeister is capable of making throws consistently, which materialized itself in multiple overthrows during routine check down pass plays as well as a few drives that involved almost no pass play calls, which I understand was to churn clock to keep it out of Sam Howell's hands, but I'd still like to see if Burmeister can throw accurately on a consistent basis.
That being said, there is no better game to work on the issues on offense and take some risks than against Middle Tennessee State. They are not good. MTSU lost to Army 42-0 in week 1 of the 2020 season and went on to other blowout defeats such as a 47-14 loss to Troy and a 42-14 loss to Marshall. After Tech was only able to score 17 against UNC I am not confident in calling this game a blowout just based on the fact that Justin Fuente tends to play these "cupcake" games way closer than they should be... a la Furman 2019. I'm not putting the Hokies on upset alert, but I don't see them dropping a 50-burger either. I think Tech wins easily and takes their foot off the gas like Fuente likes to do so often with long sustained drives in the second half to churn the clock and move the team to 2-0 going into West Virginia.
Pat Rouleau - Virginia Tech - 31-6
Beating Carolina was a terrific way to start a season and this team seems like it will be fun to watch for the next few months. Thinking about MTSU, I'm not too worried about this game but there is a possibility of this being a lookahead spot before the WVU game next week in Morgantown.
Evan Norris - Virginia Tech - 34-10
The Hokies came into Friday's game against UNC and executed well to win the ball game. However, this is a new week against a new team. The MTSU Blue Raiders are similar to UNC in that they love to air the ball out. Last week, against Monmouth, the Blue Raiders managed to put up 248 passing yards, which proved to be successful for them in their 50-15 victory. I think the Hokie's secondary can hold MTSU down from the passing side of the game and control the rushing attack that they might deploy. I think on the offensive side that the Hokies will look improved, but still have some strides to hit before it gets back to a 2020 season look. I have the Hokies taking the game by 24 points at home before they travel to Morgantown with the Black Diamond Trophy on the line.
Grant Mitchell - Virginia Tech - 38-20
Virginia Tech should win this game pretty comfortably, no doubt about that— however, I do not expect the defense to come out and play with the same intensity that it did in last week's matchup with UNC, given the emotional hangover of the win. I think that the MTSU offense will be able to string a couple of drives together behind Bailey Hockman, a former ACC QB, though they will commit turnovers in the second half that will prove decisive. The Hokies' offense is probably going to try taking some risks to test out the limitations of the offense in what is as close to a free hit on the schedule, and even if they are not entirely successful, they will be looking to score a lot of points against this opponent.
Mike McDaniel - Virginia Tech - 45-14
Even a mediocre performance should beat this Middle Tennessee State team. This is a classic letdown/lookahead spot with Tech coming off a huge win and facing an impending rival a week from Saturday against West Virginia. Tech terrorized Middle Tennessee State quarterback Bailey Hockman a year ago when he played for NC State, and I expect much of the same on Saturday. I'd love to see some newcomers get in the game on both sides of the ball here late and for the Hokies to win this one comfortably. Don't give me an aneurism Tech.
Sam Jessee - Virginia Tech - 48-10
Since 2017, the Hokies are 5-4 against the spread when favored by three or more possessions. This weekend, the Hokies are favored by 20 and shouldn't have trouble covering that spread. (Key word: shouldn't...) MTSU was one of the worst rush defenses in the nation last season and gave up 40+ points to Army, Troy, North Texas, and Marshall. Offensively, the Blue Raiders ranked #104 nationally in points per game and will be starting multiple true freshman on the offensive line. Oh, and we all know what happened last time Bailey Hockman waltzed into Lane Stadium last season... I think Virginia Tech's defense could have a statistical field day and the Hokies are able to execute a more fluid game plan offensively. I'm holding out hope for a 50 burger in this one.
Pat Finn - Virginia Tech - 38-13
This should not be a contest. The Hokies are bigger, faster, and stronger all over the field. VT needs to elect to receive, score early and often, take a huge lead into halftime, and get Knox in the game to play most of the 2H. Predictions: a non-offensive touchdown, 2 BB passing scores, and Big Play Tré finds the end zone.
Justin Cates - Virginia Tech - 42-10
If Tech gets the opportunity to run the score up a bit I think it would be wise to take it. For one thing it's fun and makes the fans happy. It also will be a safe way to get some unproven guys involved. I expect to see all three Hokie quarterbacks in this game...in one form or another.
Robert Irby - Virginia Tech - 34-7
Lunch Pail Defense, is that you? The defensive performance against UNC looked familiar, and I believe we'll see one like it on Saturday. They'll force turnovers and give BB3 plenty of chances to put points on the board.
Konnor Kilgore - Virginia Tech - 41-16
Man, that was fun. All we've heard about was how good UNC was and the off-season they were having, so beating them in impressive fashion was an extra sweet victory. However, that was last week, and it's time to go 1-0 against MTSU. This *should* be a win, but I've been scarred by should-be wins turning into gut-wrenching losses over the past few years that I don't feel comfortable looking past this one. Bailey Hockman is a decent QB for the Group of 5 level, and the overall success of MTSU will ride on his arm. I think he makes a few nice plays, but Tech's defense will keep him in check. On the offensive side, I think Tech comes out of the gate sluggish in the first half after an intense game last week. However, halftime adjustments will be made and Tech will ride the run game behind the Vice Squad and pull away for a comfortable win in the second half.
Billy Ray Mitchell - Virginia Tech - 35-10
This is a senior laden team with coaches that have been down disaster avenue before. I expect Tech to roll and get some serious momentum before a huge matchup in Morgantown. I hope to see some youngsters play and hopefully some vertical passing with big plays. Lets ROLL!