As the 2021 college football season is ready to kick off, Virginia Tech fans have to ask, what will a successful campaign look like? It is not easy to quantify. Gone are the days of Michael Vick and Beamer Ball. The Hokies have had just one 10-win season in the past nine years and have finished either one game above or one game below .500 five times.
The best way to describe the Justin Fuente years in Blacksburg is unsettled. A promising start gave way to a 19-18 record over the past three years. There have been constant personnel shifts with Fuente taking in transfers in large part to fill gaps caused by players that transferred out. Some essence of stability is needed in 2021.
And the only way that stability occurs is by winning games. Can the Hokies win enough to keep Fuente afloat? Here is what some Athlon editors and a college football contributor think about Virginia Tech this fall.
Virginia Tech Football Game-by-Game Predictions for 2021
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
It’s a must-win situation for coach Justin Fuente at Virginia Tech following a disappointing 5-6 mark last year. The unusual offseason, combined with coaching changes and injuries, certainly impacted the Hokies in 2020. However, after winning 19 games in his first two years and just 19 over the last three, Fuente needs to get the program back on track. Six home games over the first seven matchups provide an opportunity for a fast start, but the development of quarterback Braxton Burmeister and the defense will determine how high this team can finish in the Coastal Division. The guess here is Virginia Tech pulls off an upset somewhere along the way and finishes 8-4 – with 7-5 a realistic possibility as well.
Mark Ross (@AthlonMarkR)
The heat is on Justin Fuente to turn things around in Blacksburg and maybe the Hokies will end up benefitting from all the adversity they dealt with last season. More consistent quarterback production would be a good place to start but the defense also needs to show drastic improvement after a rough 2020 debut for new defensive coordinator Justin Hamilton. We will find out quickly about this team with three of the first five games coming against North Carolina, West Virginia and Notre Dame. Those landmines aside, Virginia Tech should pick up enough wins to get to a decent bowl game, and possibly more if a couple of breaks go the Hokies' way for a change.
Jon Kinne (@JonRKinne)
For a team that needs a good start to the season, having the surging Tar Heels come to town in week one is not good news. Going to Morgantown and South Bend in the first five games doesn’t sound promising either. But I believe the Hokies will win one of those battles – I’ll say the road trip to West Virginia – and end the opening stretch at 5-2. At that point, beating Pittsburgh at home will be vital because road trips to Boston College, Miami, and Virginia are forthcoming.
Looking at the schedule from 30,000 feet, there are five games that the Hokies should win: Middle Tennessee, Richmond, Syracuse, Georgia Tech, and Duke. The contests with North Carolina, Notre Dame, and Miami are going to be difficult. But the Virginia Tech season could be defined by the toss-up games against West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Boston College, and Virginia. Even though only one of those games is at home, I predict the Hokies go 3-1 against those teams and finish the year at 8-4.