Staff Predictions: Virginia Tech
Observer Sports Staff | Friday, October 5, 2018
Tobias Hoonhout — Managing Editor
There’s a reason this game has been circled on Notre Dame’s schedule since the spring, and it all goes back to last year’s debacle at Miami.
For all the noise surrounding Brian Kelly’s program over his tenure with the Irish, one buzz that hasn’t gone away is Notre Dame’s struggle on the road against ranked teams. The last time the Irish won a road game against a top-25 program was in 2015 over Temple. Before that? 2012 (And that was vacated).
This is why the game in Blacksburg means so much. For Notre Dame to fully cement its status as a playoff contender, it has to win on the road against tough opposition. The only thing is, the jury is still out as to whether the Hokies can match their bark with their bite. Last week against Duke said one thing, but a shocking loss to Old Dominion? That certainly was a different story.
Virginia Tech may be fired up for this matchup, but it hasn’t faced an offense like Notre Dame’s, which is in high gear with Ian Book under center. That’s not even to mention Ryan Willis making the biggest start of his life against an Irish defense that is developing into an elite unit. Expect Notre Dame to keep on marching Saturday.
FINAL: Notre Dame 28, Virginia Tech 14
Elizabeth Greason — Assistant Managing Editor
Last weekend, playing Stanford was the biggest start of Ian Book’s career. Not saying much considering it was just his second start.
And now, in his third-ever start, Ian Book will be playing in the largest game of his career, once again, when he starts against Virginia Tech on Saturday. Yes, Notre Dame is undeniably terrible in road games of any consequence. But I think the Irish should be able to pull this one out. Virginia Tech is good, but not that good. Its defense is good, not great, and the showing the Irish put on against Stanford proves the Irish offense is beginning to click.
I have no doubt Notre Dame’s defensive line will be able to hold the Hokie offense, led by Ryan Willis, so the real question is: How will Notre Dame perform in Lane Stadium? And Brian Kelly has taken responsibility for the lack of preparedness for the atmosphere at Hard Rock Stadium last season. So, to at least a certain extent, I expect Notre Dame to be able to handle that as well.
FINAL: Notre Dame 38, Virginia Tech 20
Joe Everett — Sports Editor
Way back in April when I submitted my prediction for the season ahead of the Blue-Gold game (I predicted a 10-2 season), Notre Dame’s matchup against Virginia Tech was a game I thought the Irish would lose. On the road at night, under the lights, against a talented, big-name program in one of the loudest stadiums in college football? No chance the Irish pull that game out. If it wasn’t a repeat of the Miami game, it would at least be reminiscent of the 2015 Clemson game. Didn’t see the Irish coming away with a W.
I do now. Ian Book has the Irish offense clicking on all cylinders. Dexter Williams has juiced up the Irish running attack. The defensive line is dominating, while Clark Lea’s unit as a whole has held up its end of the bargain every game. Lane Stadium will be loud and electric, but I think the Irish are tired of hearing about the Miami comparison and will look to make a statement on the road. The Hokies will come out swinging, so it may be close at halftime, but i think the Irish pull away in the second half.
FINAL: Notre Dame 31, Virginia Tech 20
Charlotte Edmonds — Associate Sports Editor
If Wake Forest was the transition period for the Irish, Stanford was Ian Book’s coming out party, meaning this weekend’s game against Virginia Tech is the knock-down-drag-out opportunity Brian Kelly’s team needs to prove they legitimately belong in the College Football Playoff conversation.
The electric environment of Lane Stadium paired with the lockdown defense of the Hokies is going to be a tall task for Notre Dame to overcome. But with Book calling the shots, I expect the Irish to remain calm enough to earn the win, with the final score not being indicative of the dominance Notre Dame offense will impose on Virginia Tech. This could be the perfect opponent heading into the middle of the season, keeping the Irish on their toes and providing the confidence they need to take on the latter half of their schedule.
FINAL: Notre Dame 24, Virginia Tech 21
Connor Mulvena — Associate Sports Editor
Another week, another horrendous prediction by me. I feel like I have a solid grasp on this team, and yet each week I don’t come remotely close in my score prediction.
If you asked my rational side, the one that reads as much college football material as he can during the week, I’d tell you Notre Dame is primed for a decisive victory. Momentum is in favor of the Irish with Book revamping the offense, and the Hokies, who tend to rely on their defense, haven’t seen an offense as good as Notre Dame’s all year.
But my rational side is why I’m 2-3 on predictions this year. I’m going with my gut. And my gut remembers what it was like watching the Hurricanes silence Notre Dame and its playoff chances. I fear Blacksburg will be Miami this weekend.
FINAL: Virginia Tech 42, Notre Dame 21