Hokies host Blue Devils in key ACC Coastal matchup with showdown against Miami looming
Virginia Tech came out of its off week guns blazing. In what was a complete effort that saw scores from the offense, defense and special teams, the Hokies got North Carolina down and never let the Tar Heels up.
This week, Virginia Tech hosts another struggling team in Duke. The Blue Devils lost their fourth straight game last Saturday, falling to a Pittsburgh team with its own host of issues. Stopping the skid at Lane Stadium will be a tall task, and at 4-4, Duke needs a couple more wins to become bowl eligible.
Duke trails the in series 9-15 but has won the last two games in Blacksburg.
Duke at Virginia Tech
Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 28 at 7:20 p.m. ET
TV Channel: ACC Network
Spread: Virginia Tech -15.5
Three Things to Watch
1. Duke rushing defense
Normally, teams struggle to run the ball on the Duke defense, but something strange happened last week. Pittsburgh, a team that has had trouble establishing a ground game all year, piled up 336 rushing yards against the Blue Devils. Despite rushing for 179 yards per game, Virginia Tech does not get a lot of big plays in the running game. But Pittsburgh had two runs of over 75 yards last week, and the Hokies will have to let running backs Travon McMillian and Coleman Fox find out if the Devils had a bad week or if there is a trend developing.
2. Pressuring Daniel Jones
Duke’s slide has corresponded with its quarterback’s tailspin, and this week he will be facing an aggressive Virginia Tech defensive front. Duke has allowed 21 sacks on the year, but at times it has seemed even worse. The Hokies are coming off a game in which they lived in the UNC backfield, registering six sacks and 13 tackles for lost yardage. For Jones (above, right) to get back on track, he will need a helping hand from his offensive line.
3. Duke's T.J. Rahming vs. Virginia Tech secondary
If Jones can get time to throw, he has a very good target in Rahming. His 44 catches ranks 27th nationally, and last week against Pittsburgh, the junior from Powder Springs, Georgia, had eight grabs for 142 yards. The Virginia Tech defensive backfield is a little stronger than their counterparts at Pitt, however. Greg Stroman is among the national leaders in passes defended and is part of a very deep back end crew that will make Rahming work for everything he gets.
On paper, this should be a comfortable win for Virginia Tech. Duke had trouble blocking Pittsburgh, and now the Devils have to face Tim Settle, Ricky Walker and the Virginia Tech front. They couldn’t stop the Panthers running game, and Hokies quarterback Josh Jackson is clicking with receiver Cam Phillips. The only thing Virginia Tech has to overcome is the knowledge of who is next up on the schedule. The following Saturday, the Hokies will venture to south Florida to play Miami in a game that may very well decide the Coastal title. But while this is a trap situation for the Hokies, Duke is not good enough right now to take advantage.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 31, Duke 14
— Written by Jon Kinne, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a college football fanatic. Kinne has been writing about recruiting for the Irish Sports Daily for 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.