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Three Reasons Why Virginia Tech Could Beat Louisville

By Robert Irby | October 29
Courtesy: Zach Lantz

Well. Didn’t think we would be here, did we?

But alas, the Hokies suffered a brutal loss at the hands of Wake Forest last weekend, and fan expectations have been curbed yet again. What a week ago seemed like an easy matchup against one of the ACC’s worst teams in Louisville now has Hokie fans fearing another bad road loss.

Some of the numbers are scary, as Louisville is getting hot at the right time. They trounced Florida State 48-16 last week after only losing by five to #4 Notre Dame the week before.

However, the Cardinals are still 2-4. The Hokies should still expect to win this game. Here are three reasons why that bounce-back win could come on Halloween:

The Cards Cough Up The Football

Louisville had probably their worst possible start to ACC play, as they lost to Miami, Pitt and Georgia Tech by a combined 35 points. They then bounced back with those aforementioned strong performances against ND and FSU.

What was the key difference for the Cards between those first three games and the last two? Turnovers.

Louisville had three turnovers in each of their first three ACC games, which included four interceptions and five fumbles. Meanwhile, they turned the ball over just one time in their last two games.

This Louisville offense is electric, and it is the main reason why the Cardinals received so much preseason hype. However, when they shoot themselves in the foot and turn the ball over, they give their opponent plenty of chances to capitalize.

If the Hokies can create havoc the same way they did against Boston College two weeks ago (they forced five turnovers in that game), they will have their best opportunity to slow down the speedy Cardinal offense.

The Hokie Offense Bounces Back

We all know what happened: the Hokie offense - which had been one of the top-scoring offenses in the nation - was held in check by a Wake Forest defense that isn’t that great.

It was a tough day all-around for Hendon Hooker, Khalil Herbert and the Vice Squad. The Hokies scored just 16 points.

This was an uncharacteristic day for the Hokies as their patented rushing attack was effectively held in check. However, there could be an opportunity to bounce back against Louisville’s defense.

In their previous two games, the Cardinals held ND and FSU to 12 and 16 points, respectively. However, their rushing defense was the definition of a “Bend But Don’t Break” defense.

Both ND and FSU are run-heavy offenses like the Hokies, as they are third and fourth in the conference in rushing (the Hokies are first).

The Irish and Seminoles combined for 497 rushing yards against the Cards, but each only scored one rushing touchdown. This means the Cardinals were not shutting down these rushing attacks, but they were doing enough to keep them out of the end zone.

However, this defensive model is not sustainable. Numbers will tell you that yards often lead to points, meaning if the Hokies can rush at or above their per-game average (291.6 yards), they should have opportunities to score.

This could be a good matchup for the Hooker-Herbert-Blackshear rushing attack to get back on track and put up a lot of points.

Justin Fuente Continues His Magic After Bad Losses

As inconsistent as the Hokies have been at times under Justin Fuente, with some majorly disappointing losses to teams like Old Dominion and Duke, they almost always perform well after those losses.

In Fuente’s career at VT, he is 13-5 after losses. In those 13 wins, the Hokies’ average margin of victory is 14.8 points.

This means that after disappointment, the Hokies often recover well and win by two touchdowns or more. This has included some wins after bad losses, including 2016 Syracuse, 2018 Old Dominion and 2019 Duke.

This Wake Forest loss has so far been viewed in the same light as those other three games, meaning the Hokies could very well be in store for a similar bounce-back.

Fans can typically count on the Hokies to respond well to disappointment, and the expectations are very much the same for this game.

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Born and raised in Radford, Virginia (hometown of the man himself, Mike Young), I am a lifelong Hokie. A member of Virginia Tech's Class of 2019, I currently reside in Charlotte, North Carolina. Two of my greatest loves are writing and Hokie athletics, so an opportunity to be a Scribe of Saturday was exactly what I needed. I have written for the Independent Tribune in Concord, NC, as well as Joe Gibbs Racing, the Tech Lunch Pail and Fansided. I hope one day to write for ESPN, The Athletic, Fox Sports, The Ringer or one of the like. In addition to watching/writing about sports, I enjoy drinking craft beer and playing golf.

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