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Ranking the Toughest Games on Virginia Tech’s Football Schedule 2017

Tremaine Edmunds

Tremaine Edmunds

Last year, on the way to the ACCCoastal Division championship, Virginia Tech had a favorable schedule. The Hokies did play two major powers (Tennessee and Notre Dame) in non-conference action, but they drew Coastal foe Miami at home and were matched up against Boston College and Syracuse in league crossover games.

Virginia Tech Hokies head coach Justin Fuente

In 2017, the Hokies are not quite as fortunate as trips to Miami and Atlanta loom on the horizon as does a date at home with the defending national champions.

Here is a ranking of the toughest games on Virginia Tech’s upcoming schedule.

12. Sept. 9 vs. Delaware

The Blue Hens have a rich football tradition at the FCS level. But they have struggled in recent years and will be fodder for the Hokies in week two.

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11. Sept. 16 at East Carolina

The Pirates claimed victories over the Hokies in both 2014 and ‘15. But Scottie Montgomery’s first year as head coach at ECU did not go well, as the Pirates stumbled to a 3-9 finish. Included was an ugly 54-17 loss at Lane Stadium. To make matters worse, East Carolina loses their leading passer, rusher, big-time receiver Zay Jones, and four of their top six tacklers.

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10. Nov. 25 at Virginia

This is a big, in-state rivalry game and the Cavaliers have two dynamite defenders in Micah Kiser and Quin Blanding. But the Hokies have won 13 in a row against UVA and have taken 17 of the last 18.

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9. Sept. 23 vs. Old Dominion

The Monarchs may be new to FBS football, but they have picked up on this winning thing very quickly. In three years at college football’s top level, ODU is a combined 21-16 and is coming off a 10-3 season that ended with a Bahamas Bowl victory. And star running back Ray Lawry is back for one more season.

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8. Oct. 28 vs. Duke

Daniel Jones looks like he is going to a very good quarterback and you know with David Cutcliffe as his head coach, the sophomore will get the proper tutelage. Wide receiver T.J. Rahming and running back Shaun Wilson want to get Duke back into the bowl picture after missing out in 2016.

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7. Oct. 7 at Boston College

Once again the Eagles will have a stifling defense that will be handcuffed by a stagnant offense. That defense – led by returning defensive end Harold Landry – was good enough to get BC into a bowl game last fall. The Hokies must avoid a letdown in Chestnut Hill the week after the big battle with Clemson.

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6. Oct. 21 vs. North Carolina

After the trip to Boston College, Virginia Tech has an extra week to prepare for a Tar Heel squad that loses a ton offensively and also will have a new defensive coordinator. Meanwhile, UNC will be playing for the eighth consecutive week.

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5. Nov. 18 vs. Pittsburgh

The Panthers will be aggressive as head coach Pat Narduzzi knows no other way. The losses of running back James Conner and quarterback Nathan Peterman, coupled with a defense that is not quite yet where Narduzzi would like it to be, puts a lot of pressure on new quarterback Max Browne, a graduate transfer from USC.

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4. Sept. 3 vs. West Virginia (in Landover, Md.)

The Mountaineers have to replace quarterback Skyler Howard and its two leading receivers. But former Florida quarterback Will Grier is in and he will have the pleasure of handing the ball off to Justin Crawford. There are some holes WVU has to plug on defense but should be ready for the season-opener on the Sunday before Labor Day.

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3. Nov. 11 at Georgia Tech

Justin Thomas has graduated, but the Jackets came into Lane Stadium and beat the Hokies last year with Matthew Jordan at quarterback. Georgia Tech returns a good nucleus on both sides of the ball and running back Dedrick Mills should be able to build off his impressive freshman campaign.

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2. Nov. 4 at Miami

It would surprise no one if the Coastal Division title came down to this game late in the year. Running back Mark Walton and wide receiver Ahmmon Richards give the Hurricanes’ offense firepower and a very athletic defense will be led by rising sophomore linebackers Shaquille Quarterman and Michael Pinckney.

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1. Sept. 30 vs. Clemson

The defending national champs come to town for a rematch of a very exciting 2016 ACC Championship Game. The Tigers will be without many of the stars from last year, with quarterback Deshaun Watson being the biggest name that needs to be replaced. But with defensive linemen Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence along with receivers Deon Cain and Hunter Renfrow still wearing orange, this will be the biggest game on the Hokies’ schedule.

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— 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.