Staff Predictions: Virginia Tech
Observer Sports Staff | Friday, November 1, 2019
Charlotte Edmonds — Managing Editor
This will be a very different matchup from the last time these two teams met. A year ago, the Hokies marched in to face the undefeated Irish to the tune of “Enter Sandman.” While the Irish left Blacksburg with a commanding win, it marked a shift in the momentum for a team that went on to make their first program appearance in the College Football Playoff. Fast forward a year, and you’ve got a two-loss Notre Dame facing a very average Virginia Tech team.
While it’s tempting to draw all sorts of conclusions from last week’s massacre in Ann Arbor, I simply chose to reject that game altogether — in part because I want to forget how miserable I felt freezing in the stands, but more importantly because I think it has very few implications for the team in this particular matchup. Yes, it undoubtedly eliminated the Irish from likely any New Year’s Six Bowl, much less the CFP. But at the end of the day, it was against a Michigan program that’s long been underachieving in insane conditions. A win is a win, and the Wolverines certainly got it last Saturday, but no chance Kelly drops two in a row back at home. I’ve been horribly wrong about my score predictions so far, but I have accurately predicted the overall outcome of each game and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. The Hokies are currently sitting middle of the pack in the ACC and have losses to Duke and Boston College — yes, the same Boston College that lost to Kansas. While their overtime win against UNC a week and a half ago might look alright, that suddenly loses a lot of weight when you consider the state of the ACC. I expect this one to go as most games have gone — Notre Dame defense takes care of business and the offense does enough to get by.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 31, Virginia Tech 14
Connor Mulvena — Sports Editor
I’ve been uncharacteristically confident in the Irish this season, and I now realize that came from me just wanting to see another playoff run in my senior year. Brian Kelly and his team got exposed last week. There’s no way around it. A true top 10 football team does not lose that game, and not only did the Irish coaching staff prove itself to be below the elite, but Ian Book and the offense proved it cannot hang with the best in the nation.
Virginia Tech is no Michigan, but it has come up with some wins against some good football teams, including North Carolina, who has shown promise under Mack Brown. I really would not be surprised if this game is very close. Normally, I might say the Irish would come out with a vengeance after a loss, but at this point, what is there to seek vengeance for? Notre Dame won’t make a New Year’s Six Bowl, and no matter what it does the rest of the season, it has proven what it is on the national stage: a mediocre football team. I think the Irish win here, but not by much.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 21, Virginia Tech 14
Hayden Adams — Associate Sports Editor
Being a sports fan and a sports writer, I’ve recently learned, is a balancing act. It’s difficult when you have an emotional stake in a team’s success and you try to be objective in your predictions. That said, as an inherent optimist, Notre Dame’s blowout loss to Michigan didn’t make me lose faith in the team as much as it returned my expectations to reality.
Virginia Tech is a middling team. While 5-2 on the season, they lost to a 35-28 Boston College team that lost to Kansas at home, and they got blown out 45-10 by a Duke team that lost 48-14 to Virginia, who lost 28-21 to a Louisville team that gave up 59 points to Wake Forest. The ACC Coastal Division title is anybody’s race, and the Hokies could legitimately win it, but they haven’t faced a test like Notre Dame. There’s a chance of snow on Saturday, but that won’t impact ND like the monsoon against Michigan. Combine an Irish squad looking for redemption with a young Virginia Tech team whose head coach mistakenly described Ian Book as someone who “keeps his eyes downfield” and the Hokies are in for some trouble.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 31, Virginia Tech 14
Ellen Geyer — Sports Writer
Notre Dame and Virginia Tech may have the same records, but these teams are far from equal. Though last week’s loss in Ann Arbor made me vow to never visit the state of Michigan again, I see that spectacular failure as the exception, not the rule. Shocking take, I know, coming from me, the self-declared token football pessimist, but the Irish don’t have anyone left on their schedule that’s giving me much cause for concern (granted, at the moment I say Notre Dame will lose to Duke, but still).
Notre Dame didn’t play as well in the Virginia game as I anticipated after that tough Georgia loss, but Virginia Tech’s not Virginia, and Michigan’s not Georgia. After losing to an overrated Wolverine team on the national stage, I believe the Irish will be hungry to claw their way to a 10-2 season, starting with a win this weekend. Virginia Tech’s no team to write home about, so I figure Notre Dame should be able to escape this one with a fairly comfortable victory.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 35, Virginia Tech 17
Jack Concannon — Sports Writer
One has to wonder about the mental implications of losing a massive game to Michigan. It reminds me of two years ago when the Irish were blown out by Miami, then limped through the remainder of the year, beating Navy by just seven and taking a massive loss at the hands of Stanford.
More than anything, there just seem to be a lot of question marks and distractions that didn’t exist before. Instead of questions about the opponent, the team is bombarded with questions about Tommy Kraemer’s health, quarterback play and the state of the program as a whole. This Virginia Tech team isn’t built to keep up with Notre Dame after losses against Duke and Boston College, but I think Notre Dame will start slow and have to play from behind in this one. The Irish win, but they don’t inspire confidence in the state of the program.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 24, Virginia Tech 17