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Virginia Tech Football: Ranking the Toughest Games on the Hokies' Schedule

Virginia Tech Football: Ranking the Toughest Games on the Hokies' Schedule

Virginia Tech Football: Ranking the Toughest Games on the Hokies' Schedule

The ACCCoastal will again be up for grabs with everyone besides Georgia Tech (and perhaps Duke) feeling optimistic about their chances for a division crown entering the season. That means each member's schedule will be similar and its difficulty will be determined by their non-conference games and crossover opponents.

Virginia Tech's out-of-league slate has already taken a hit with the Big Ten's decision to play only conference opponents wiping out the anticipated visit from Penn State. Additional schedule changes could be made as plenty of uncertainty swirls around the upcoming season but as it stands now, the Hokies will have a tough road ahead of them. Still, there are enough winnable games, combined with the talent returning to Blacksburg this fall, that at minimum, a solid bowl appearance will be the result at year's end.

Here is a ranking of Virginia Tech's opponents by degree of difficulty.

11. Sept. 26 vs. North Alabama

Last year, the Hokies struggled at home with Furman, so nothing is given, even against an FCS opponent. But the Lions are coming off a rough 4-7 season and should be an easy victory for Virginia Tech leading into ACC play.

10. Sept. 5 vs. Liberty

A drop off is to be expected after an 8-5 record and a Cure Bowl win in Hugh Freeze's first year in Lynchburg, especially with quarterback Buckshot Calvert and 1,000-yard rusher Frankie Hickson moving on. Feeze knows how to build an offense though it’s doubtful that it will be a smooth operation in week one.

9. Sept. 19 at Middle Tennessee

After a run of four consecutive bowl appearances, Rick Stockstill's Blue Raiders went 4-8 last fall. Dual-threat quarterback Asher O'Hara returns, but Middle Tennessee must replace eight starters on defense.

8. Oct. 3 vs. Georgia Tech

While the defense should be solid, the Yellow Jackets' offense will still be a work in progress in year two under Geoff Collins and coordinator Dave Patenaude. Georgia Tech will be coming off a trip to Chapel Hill while the Hokies will be opening league play after facing North Alabama the week before.

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7. Oct. 22 vs. Boston College

Thursday night games at Lane Stadium are usually raucous environments, though what happens this fall remains to be seen. Regardless, playing at Virginia Tech won't be fun for a Boston College team under a brand-new coaching staff that no longer has star back AJ Dillon and is still waiting on the NCAA to determine if transfer quarterback Phil Jurkovec will be eligible.

6. Nov. 21 at Duke

The Duke offense struggled for much of 2019 and the unit could have issues this fall as well. Their defense, led by ends Victor Dimukeje and Chris Rumph combined with an experienced secondary, will be disruptive.

5. Nov. 28 vs. Virginia

A one-game winning streak now belongs to the Cavaliers after the Hokies fell in Charlottesville last November. This year, the game will be in Blacksburg and UVA will be without star quarterback Bryce Perkins and receiver/returner Joe Reed. But watch out for a defense featuring linebackers Charles Snowden and Zane Zandier.

4. Nov. 14 vs. Miami

Ends Gregory Rousseau Jr. and Quincy Roche will make the Miami defense one of the best in the ACC. But for the Hurricanes to become a Coastal threat, the offense has to improve and that starts with an offensive line that has had problems in recent years and Houston transfer D'Eriq King solving the quarterback issues.

3. Oct. 31 at Louisville

Virginia Tech will have a couple of extra days of rest with the game against Boston College being played on Thursday of the previous week. Louisville, meanwhile, has a huge division game versus Florida State the Saturday prior. The Cardinals are loaded with skill-position talent like Tutu Atwell at receiver and Javian Hawkins at running back.

2. Oct. 10 at North Carolina

The Tar Heels are Athlon Sports' pick to win the Coastal Division this year with quarterback Sam Howell looking to improve on a record-setting freshman season. He has a deep receiving corps coming back and linebacker Chazz Surratt is the best of the seven returning defenders.

1. Nov. 6 at Pittsburgh

Part of the problem with this game is the talent Pittsburgh brings back on defense, but another is the spot on the schedule. As of now, it will be a road game just six days after playing at Louisville. Throw in another big game against Miami the following week and Hokies could have their hands full at Heinz Field.

Note: Schedule subject to change. Prior to the Big Ten's decision to go with a conference-only schedule, Penn State's Sept. 12 home date with Penn State would have ranked first on this list.

— Written by Jon Kinne, who has been part of the Athlon Contributor Network for three years, covering the ACC and Notre Dame. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.