Virginia Tech did what it needed to do last Saturday. Coming off Week 1 when the Hokies lost both the game to Ohio State and quarterback Michael Brewer to a shoulder injury, Virginia Tech defeated Furman 42-3 behind two touchdown passes from Brenden Motley.
Likewise, Purdue climbed to 1-1 by beating an FCS opponent as well. Quarterback Austin Appleby threw for 289 yards and four scores in the Boilermakers' 38-14 win over Indiana State.
Saturday’s clash will be the first-ever meeting between the Hokies and the Boilermakers.
Virginia Tech at Purdue
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV Channel: ESPNU
Spread: Virginia Tech -6
Three Things to Watch
1. Brenden Motley again
Motley’s numbers ended up looking okay but it took a while to get going. Now he goes against a Big Ten team on the road. Purdue’s defense will be quicker than what he saw last week, meaning the throwing windows will be tighter. The good news for Motley is that Purdue’s defense won’t be quite as good as the last Big Ten defense he faced. Still, Motley will have his work cut out for him in his first road start.
2. Protecting Appleby
Appleby did not throw an interception last Saturday. In Purdue’s first game of the year, Marshall picked him off four times. Appleby has started nine games in his career, so Virginia Tech is not the first quality team he has faced. However, he threw 11 interceptions in seven games in 2014. The quick Virginia Tech defensive front will not only be looking to take down the Purdue quarterback, they also hope to force him into making bad decisions. Fortunately for Purdue, they have an experienced offensive line that will try to keep the Hokies front seven off of Appleby.
3. Which team can run the ball more effectively?
It’s cliché to say the team that is better at running the ball will win. But in this case it is probably true. For Virginia Tech, they’d prefer if the game was not completely in Motley’s hands. For Purdue, they’d rather not have Dadi Nicolas, Kendall Fuller, and company knowing that a pass is coming. Both teams have similar rushing stats so far this year, though playing Ohio State can skew a lot of statistics.
Virginia Tech’s defense held Furman to 254 yards in total offense last week. It was a baby step following the loss to the Buckeyes, but it was a step. I’m not sure Purdue did the same in their victory over Indiana State. In the loss to Marshall, Purdue yielded 397 yards in total offense. Indiana State had 362 against the Boilermakers this past Saturday. Offensively, Purdue improved, primarily in ball security. But they do not have the weapons that will scare the nasty Virginia Tech defense. The Hokies may not put up a ton of points, but they will score enough to win easily.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 27, Purdue 7
— 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.