Sons of Game Picks: Week 8 - Virginia Tech vs. Syracuse
There is a football game on Saturday... supposedly.
There is a rumor going around the internet that the Virginia Tech Hokies and the Syracuse Orange will play a football game on Saturday in Lane Stadium. I was shocked to hear this, so I put on my detective hat and to my grand surprise that rumor turned out to be true.
While the season is most likely lost for the Hokies, with most fans having turned their attention to decisions that will be made in the month of December, there are still a whole SIX games left to be played. Ugh.
The Hokies are coming off a destructive loss to Pitt and welcome the fighting Dino Babers to town. A glorious 12:30pm kickoff awaits these two teams in what's to be a not full Lane Stadium.
At the beginning of the year even I, who predicted the Hokies would go 5-7, believed that the Syracuse game would be a win for Tech. However, now I'm not so sure. Syracuse has arguably the best running back in the country with Sean Tucker, who is averaging around 135 rush yards per game. They also have a mobile quarterback in Garrett Shrader, who, similarly to Braxton Burmeister, struggles in the pass game, but can make plays with his legs. This one-two punch of Tucker and Shrader is formidable for a Tech defense that has been pretty bad against the run all year.
The Syracuse ground attack is not a welcome sight for a Hokie offense that is struggling to simply put points on the board. The Hokies own the 5th longest scoring streak in the country, which began in 1995, and it was on life support last weekend until Tech eventually scored a TD.
There isn't much to say that's new about this Hokie team. They have a good defense and they have a terrible offense. Justin Hamilton's guys can only keep the Hokies in a game for so long until the dam finally breaks like it did last week against Pitt. If Tech cannot put points on the board, they will lose this game and every game remaining on their schedule.
One final note. The Hokies lost by 21 to Pitt last weekend. In the last three games for Syracuse, they have lost by a combined 9 points. Those 9 points include a 3 point loss to Clemson, a 3 point loss to Wake Forest, and a 3 point loss to Florida State. Say what you want about the state of each of those programs, the fact that Syracuse kept it close with all three teams is a testament to their ability to play teams close and score points.
Gone are the days of Donovan McNabb and Michael Vick. Expect this game to be a boring slog with a low scoring outcome. Thankfully I will be at a bottomless brunch at the same time so I will not have to watch.
Here is out we see the game going:
Adam Rothe - Syracuse - 20-13
Both teams stink. However, Syracuse has one of the best running backs in the country with Sean Tucker. Through seven games he has rushed for 948 yards and 9 TDs. That breaks down to ~135 yards per game and ~1 TD per game. The Hokies defense will have their hands full. Like the first six games for Tech their defense will keep them in the game for a period of time, but if the offense can't do anything then the same old story will play out just as it did against Pitt. Justin Fuente appears to be going down with the ship since no changes have been made publicly on his offensive staff, so I can't pick Tech to win another game until something changes.
Grant Mitchell - Syracuse - 17-16
I am expecting this to be a snoozefest of a game with the Hokies continuing their trend of failing to string multiple first downs together, while the Orange will ride their ground game and try to chew up the clock against a very solid defense. That being said, it is nearly impossible to defend the output of VT's offense, regardless of the talent of certain players. Burmeister looked totally inept last weekend, going 11/32 on his passes, and until the Hokies can hang a large amount of points on a solid P5 team, they do not deserve the benefit of the doubt. This is a stark contrast to Syracuse who, although they have an anemic passing attack, boast one of the nation's most productive running backs in Sean Tucker. I've got the visitors in a toss-up but would be more comfortable betting the "under" than anything else.
Evan Norris - Syracuse - 23-14
There are no more expectations of what this team needs to do rather than win. However, when your offense can only produce 3-and-outs for their possessions, it can make that a bit hard. I do see the Virginia Tech defense limiting the Orange to under what they usually score, but much like Pittsburgh if your offense cannot score, you cannot win. And when you look at where Syracuse sits going into this matchup, they have the 13th best rushing attack in the nation. This doesn't matchup well for the Hokies, who can claim the 80th rushing defense in the nation. I don't like this matchup on paper. And this being a noon slot game, I smell disaster. The Orange are hungry for a win, and the Hokies are hungry for new leadership. Give me the Orange.
Konnor Kilgore - Virginia Tech - 14-13
I am an optimistic person. Always have been. However, I'm on my last straw of being optimistic about this team. The only reason I haven't lost all hope is because of our defense. Syracuse should be a winnable game, but given the nature of this years team I'm sure it'll be played in the most frustrating way imaginable. I'm going to give Tech the win by the slightest of margins in this one because Syracuse has some pretty serious issues as well. I believe the defense scores a touchdown in this one and carries an anemic offense to a much-needed win.