The bye week has come and gone with Virginia Tech and Duke both looking for an important win to show that they can be relevant in the ACC Coastal this season. Tonight should also be an emotional one as Virginia Tech honors the 1999 team that completed for a national championship in the 2000 Sugar Bowl.
So can the Hokies win on an emotional night or will Duke spoil the party? Here's our staff's picks for tonight's showdown.
Tonight's game is a battle for relevance between a Virginia Tech team looking to get back on track after an opening week loss and a Duke team looking to show that they are a relevant team in the Coastal race this season.
Both teams have some interesting mismatches this week.
Ryan Willis hasn't looked as good as he did last season, but Duke's pass defense has been among the worst with only one quality performance coming against an FCS team. Combine that with the Hokies' receiver talent and Virginia Tech should allow Willis to stretch the field similar to how he did last season.
On the other side, Duke has a pair of potential advantages with a veteran offensive line and a legitimate dual-threat QB in Quentin Harris. While the offensive line could give Harris time to make plays, Virginia Tech's linebackers have shown signs of improvement with open-field tackling with significant improvement between games against Old Dominion and Furman.
Overall, this seems like a high-scoring game that will come down to the wire, but the Hokies' passing advantage will be significant. That plus an improving pass defense and some inspiration from playing at home under the lights and having the greatest VT team in the building will push the Hokies to an important victory to stay relevant in the Coastal.
Pick: Virginia Tech 35, Duke 31
I wish I felt a little more confident about this game, but Duke seems to have a couple of strengths that coincide directly with Virginia Tech’s weaknesses.
First, Duke QB Quentin Harris is able to make plays with his legs. Running quarterbacks have always been an issue for the Hokies, and I haven’t seen anything so far this year that shows they have improved on that.
Second, Duke’s offensive line is really solid. They are 2nd in the nation in sacks allowed and 1st in the nation in tackles for loss allowed. That does not set up well for a young Hokies defensive line.
This is a night game in Lane, so I think that gives Virginia Tech somewhat of an advantage. It should be a competitive game, but I see the Blue Devils coming out on top
Pick: Duke 24, Virginia Tech 17
Well folks, Friday Night Lights return to Blacksburg a little early this season. The Hokies take on the Duke Blue Devils in an ACC tilt. The Hokies need to get a win to avoid a dreaded 0-2 start in ACC play, but the win won’t come easily.
Duke isn’t the Duke of last year, with Daniel Jones slinging the football all over the field. However, the defense is still going to have a task ahead of them.
Duke’s new signal caller Quentin Harris is a true dual-threat quarterback, something that has given the Hokies trouble. Harris leads the team in rushing as well as passing. Look for the defense to try and implement a spy on most plays to prevent Harris from breaking contain. If the Hokies can tackle well and contain the busted play big runs, they have a real shot at controlling this game.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Hokies need to get the running game going early. If they can control the line of scrimmage, it could be a very long night for the Blue Devil defense. Ryan Willis will have his opportunities to air it out as the Blue Devil secondary is not the best he will face. However, the Hokies will need to value the football and keep the turnovers to a bare minimum.
The fact is this isn't necessarily a must win but it is very close. A 0-2 hole to start the bulk of ACC play is not a very good place to be. Virginia Tech is still a very tough place to play and the fans do love night games. I believe the Hokies will continue to improve and get a very close win. Hokies win this one 28-24. As always LETS GO HOKIES!!!
Pick: Virginia Tech 28, Duke 24
After two home victories and a bye week, the Hokies are looking to grab their first ACC win of the season Friday night at Lane Stadium. As the Hokies prepare to take on the Duke Blue Devils, they look to bolster their offensive production, which at times this season have looked weak.
If the Hokies want to control the matchup Friday against the Blue Devils, the run game needs to that step in the right direction. Virginia Tech seemed to have caught their momentum in the run game against Furman as they now average 152 rushing yards per game, but still rank outside of the Top 100 in total rushing yards this season (456).
The Blue Devils rush defense ranks 58th in the FBS with 140.3 rushing yards per game and 4.1 yards per attempt. The Hokies passing game has been trending in the wrong direction as it now ranks 95th in FBS with 739 passing yards, but the Duke passing defense has shown its mediocrity this season with allowing 226.3 passing yards per game.
I view this matchup as a toss up, and both teams will have their opportunities at taking control over each other on Friday. However, I believe the Duke Blue Devils will be able to capitalize on their chances and upset the Hokies at Lane to collect their first ACC victory of the season.
I just have not been able to find confidence in the Hokies this season and that they are going to be able to compete with the Blue Devils on Friday. If the Hokies are able to pull out the victory this weekend, it could be the turning point that the Hokies need to get their season in the right direction as they head into Miami next weekend. But for right now, the recent performance of the Hokies is just not enough to inspire confidence to take VT in this game over Duke.