Thoughts on the 2008 Football Schedule

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The 2008 football schedule has the ability to excite you in some ways, but
it’s going to make you really depressed in other ways. A year after having
perhaps the most exciting home schedule in school history, the 2008 home
schedule doesn’t cause as much enthusiasm. The Hokies play Furman, Western
Kentucky and Duke at home, but don’t get three of the ACC’s highest profile
teams — Clemson, Miami, or Florida State — in Lane Stadium.


2008 Virginia Tech
Football Schedule
(home games in gray

Date

Opponent

Aug. 30

East Carolina (Charlotte)

Sept. 6

Furman

Sept. 13

Georgia Tech

Sept. 20

at North Carolina

Sept. 27

at Nebraska

Oct. 4

Western Kentucky

Oct. 18

at Boston College

Oct. 25

at Florida State

Nov. 6

Maryland (Thursday)

Nov. 13

at Miami (Thursday)

Nov. 22

Duke

Nov. 29

Virginia
Dec. 6 ACC Championship Game
Tampa, Florida

 

Tech’s top home games are against Georgia Tech, Maryland and Virginia. The
Virginia game is always fun, and the Maryland game is on a Thursday night. At
least we’ve still got Thursdays. I also like that Georgia Tech is early on
September 13. At least the Hokies aren’t playing Western Kentucky and Furman
back-to-back.

Another thing I do like about the schedule is the exciting road games. If
you’re a traveling fan, nothing gets you excited more than a great road game.
I’ve come to enjoy road games more than home games over the past few years. The
travel is fun, you know you’re surrounded by the best of Tech fans, and you get
to show what a great traveling fan base the Hokies have.

Going to LSU last year was a blast. This year, it’s Nebraska. Count me in. At
Florida State, at Miami, at Boston College and at UNC round out the road
schedule.

I can see myself making 3 of those 5 trips. You can’t be a hardcore traveler
and miss the Nebraska game. Tech’s first ACC game at Florida State — finally,
in the Hokies’ fifth season in the conference — should be a good one. Miami in
November? The weather can’t be bad for two straight VT trips down there, right?
UNC is a close drive and a beautiful campus. The only game I’ll say I definitely
won’t make is Boston College. Nothing about that school or city has ever excited
me.

What I don’t like about the schedule is the number of bye weeks or extra days
that other teams get to prepare for the Hokies, as well as a couple of other
things. Let’s take a look.

  • UNC gets two extra days to prepare for VT, because they play at Rutgers on
    Thursday, Sept. 11. VT hosts GT on Saturday, Sept. 13. VT and UNC play in
    Chapel Hill on Saturday, Sept. 20. I didn’t want to play an improving UNC
    program early in the season anyway, and I like it even less that they’ve got
    an extra day or two.
  • Nebraska gets a patsy in New Mexico State the week before playing VT. VT
    will be on the road at UNC before traveling to Lincoln.
  • Florida State gets an extra couple of days before they play VT. The ‘Noles
    play at NC State on Thursday, Oct. 16. VT plays at BC on October 18, then
    travels to FSU on October 25.
  • Miami gets a week off before playing VT on Thursday, November 13. Tech
    will have a regular week, after having played Maryland the previous
    Thursday. This could be good or bad, depending on how each team is playing
    at that point.

Of course, there are some things I like as well. Some are just for my own
personal taste, and the others could actually have some effect on the season.
Here they are.

  • Thank goodness, only two September home games. Spread those suckers out.
  • The road schedule is awesome. Some great road trips there. And in case you
    haven’t noticed, VT has only lost one conference road game since joining the
    ACC.
  • VT gets three home games in the month of November.
  • VT’s bye week comes on October 11, after their first six games. Six games
    remain after the bye week, splitting the season neatly down the middle.
  • VT plays Duke the week before playing UVA. That’s like a bye week, but the
    Hokies get to play a game — at home — and stay mentally sharp.
  • There are plenty of winnable games. VT has a chance to win 10 games again,
    and to win the ACC again.

In the end, I like the 2008 schedule for a couple of reasons. First and
foremost, the opportunity is very much there for Virginia Tech to win 10+ games
for the fifth straight year and win the ACC Championship. Secondly, there are a
couple of excellent road trips to Nebraska and Florida State, as well as a local
trip to UNC. At Nebraska and Florida State in the same season? That’s big time
fun right there.

 
Soft or Tough Out-of-Conference Schedule?

 

A lot of fans aren’t happy about playing teams like Furman and Western
Kentucky. I hear you, but look around college football. Clemson, Florida State
and Georgia Tech are playing two 1-AA teams this year. At least Tech was
able to get Western Kentucky, who is now a 1-A program. I think the Hokies have
a typical out-of-conference schedule for a major BCS conference team this year.
Maybe a little more exciting even, with a neutral site game and a road game at
Nebraska.

Whether you want a soft or tough out-of-conference schedule probably depends
on how much you care about winning the National Championship. If that’s your
ultimate goal, then start pushing for the Hokies to not play teams like
Nebraska, LSU, etc. out-of-conference.

Whether they deserved it or not, had the Hokies scheduled Southwest Texas
State, or somebody like that, instead of LSU last year, Tech would have had a
legit chance to play Ohio State for the National Championship. That LSU game
killed Tech’s chances at a National Championship in a year where they might have
made it any way, despite a conference loss. How many times are the Hokies going
to lose one game and still have a chance to be in the National Title Game,
especially in a weak ACC? Probably not many.

By the way, the Hokies could have beaten Ohio State had that game been
played. Frank Beamer was criticized for excusing his seniors from valuable bowl
practice time leading up to the Orange Bowl against Kansas, but do you think he
would have done that had Tech been playing for the National Title? I doubt it.
That’s a bit different than playing Kansas.

So if you want to win the National Championship, I’d suggest that the easiest
way to get to that game is through easy scheduling. The ACC is easy enough as it
is. There’s no reason to hand back that advantage by scheduling LSU
out-of-conference.

On the other hand, if you’re about the traveling, tailgating and just seeing
good college football, you’d like to see more schools like LSU added to the
schedule. Let me introduce you to Nebraska, which should be a great trip in
2008. The Hokies can lose that game and still win the ACC, which, in my opinion,
should be the main goal each season.

Think about it like this. In 20 years, you are going to remember those road
trips to LSU and Nebraska and what a great time you had. You would not remember
some 50-0 home win over South Carolina State.

For me personally, give me that one really good road trip each year. If you
win it, then you’ve still got a shot at the National Title. If you lose it, your
ACC hopes are still very much alive. Either way, me the traveling fan had a good
experience. I’m happy with the way the 2007 season turned out (Orange Bowl
excluded), and I wouldn’t give my trip to LSU away for anything.

 
Ranking the Toughness of Games, from Easiest to Hardest

 

I couldn’t let you get away without a little schedule analysis. Let’s rank
the games in order of difficulty, starting with the easiest.

 

12) Furman. This is a 1-AA team, albeit a solid one. Still, this will be
a big September yawner.

 

11) Western Kentucky. Although they just moved from 1-AA to 1-A, Western
Kentucky still doesn’t have a full complement of 1-A players.

 

10) Duke. Enough said.

 

9) Maryland. I’ve never been a fan of the Terps’ defensive toughness (or
lack thereof). Not to mention they are coming to Lane on a Thursday night, where
they got hammered 55-6 back in 2004.

 

8) Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets have a new coach and a brand new
option attack. This is the first game I think the Hokies have at least a chance
to lose. GT does have the QB and RB to run the option, and VT will be breaking
in a lot of new players on defense. That defense must be very disciplined
against the option.

 

7) UVA. The Cavaliers were poised to make a run at the Coastal Division
in 2008, until they lost so many players to academics. They will have a new
quarterback and a new interior offensive line, not to mention a completely new
defensive line.

 

6) Boston College. The Eagles lost Matt Ryan, some good offensive
linemen, and both running backs. Their defense will be good, but I expect Tech
to win.

 

5) East Carolina. This is a dangerous game, but I have to believe that
Tech will be able to beat a CUSA team, even if it is the first game of the
season.

 

4) UNC. This is a big time trap game, the week before Nebraska. UNC
returns everybody, while VT will still be an inexperienced team at the start.

 

3) Miami. The ‘Canes still have talent, and this one will be in South
Florida in Dolphin Stadium. If Miami can find a quarterback, this will be a very
tough game.

 

2) Nebraska. The Cornhuskers will see this game as a chance to make a
statement. 12 years ago when Tech played Nebraska in the Orange Bowl, it was the
other way around. Nebraska has a great passing attack that can give Tech’s young
defense trouble. Bo Pelini, LSU’s defensive coordinator last year, will be
familiar with Tech.

 

1) Florida State. The ‘Noles should be better than last year, and they’ll
have a senior quarterback. Their offensive line should be improved. This will be
a tough game for Tech to win.

Very early pick … 10-2, back to the ACC Championship Game.

 

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