After battling adversity in the first month of the season due to poor defense, poor quarterback play, and inconsistency in general on both sides of the football, the Virginia Tech Hokies continued their resurgence with a 45-0 victory on the road at Georgia Tech on Saturday afternoon. The win was the Hokies' fifth in the last six games, and at 7-3, Tech is now bowl-eligible for an NCAA-leading 27th consecutive season.
It has been quite the road to get to where Tech is at now, and so much has transpired over the last two months leading to this turnaround. The Hokies have played inspired football both offensively and defensively, and have continued to play complementary football during this unexpected surge into Coastal Division title contention.
On Saturday, the Hokies did what they have been unable to do for much of the 2019 season; they put a bad team to bed early.
After an empty drive to start the game, the Hokies offense woke up in a big way, thanks to quarterback Hendon Hooker. Hooker and the offense scored touchdowns on three straight drives to jump out to a 21-0 lead. After an Oscar Bradburn punt on the ensuing offensive possession pinned Georgia Tech inside its own 5-yard line, Georgia Tech QB James Graham was flushed from the pocket and lobbed an ill-timed throw into triple-coverage. The pass was intercepted by All-ACC lock Caleb Farley and was returned 17 yards for the Virginia Tech touchdown. The Hokies added an another field goal before the break, and the rout was on at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
While the offense was good, the defense was even better. In the team's first shut out of the 2019 season, the Caleb Farley interception was just a small snippet of a dominating performance on that side of the football. In the tone-setting first half, the Virginia Tech defense allowed just 48 yards of offense, which helped give the Hokies' offense excellent field position and scoring chances. In total, the Hokies outgained the Yellow Jackets 461 to 134, and forced two Georgia Tech turnovers to lead to the easy win on the road in Atlanta.
As unlikely as it seemed a little over a month ago, it is hard not to view the Hokies as the favorites to win the Coastal Division title. Two good teams remain in Pittsburgh at home, and Virginia on the road, both of which are 7-3 heading into Week 13 of the college football season. If the Hokies win out, they not only put themselves into the ACC Championship against Clemson, but they likely put themselves in position to grab the ACC's non-playoff spot in the New Year's Six, which is a far-cry from what was expected after a 45-10 blowout loss back in late September against Duke.
For now though, the Hokies continue to surprise as one of college football's best turnaround stories in the 2019 season. After a very successful last six weeks of the season, Tech will be on the verge of the College Football Playoff Top 25 when the new rankings are released next Tuesday.