Will Stewart and Chris Coleman of TechSideline.com, Andy Bitter of The Athletic, and CZYHokie, Evan G. Watkins, Matej Sis and Brian Dohn of VTScoop.com and 247Sports.com came together to offer their predictions for the 2018 season. Former Virginia Tech starting offensive guard Dwight Vick also joins in the fun!
We thank Matej for compiling all submissions, and for providing the chart below that lists the game-by-game predictions of each writer.
Brian Dohn – 247Sports
Analysis: The schedule sets up wonderfully for Virginia Tech, although the opener against Florida State is tough. Playing a few key games at home gives the Hokies an advantage and should allow them to challenge for a spot in the conference title game. Hosting Miami late in the season could be for a spot in the ACC title game.
Final Record: 10-2
Andy Bitter – The Athletic
Analysis: This is going to be a young team and therefore one that I think will be hard to predict from week to week. You typically expect those younger teams to be better at home than on the road, which is reflected in my picks. I do think the offense will be improved, but I’m not sure that’ll be enough to offset the losses from last year’s tremendous defense. Bud Foster usually figures it out, but this is such an inexperienced group that there are going to be growing pains on that side of the ball. I think FSU might be a little bit too big of a stage for this young group in the opener, though it’ll rebound against the softer part of the schedule. Notre Dame’s another big matchup early that could give the Hokies trouble. Georgia Tech seems to have Justin Fuente’s number, regardless of location, and I think the Hokies slip up in one of those 50-50 games against Duke, Boston College or Pittsburgh. I chose Pitt here because it’s on the road. But I do believe this team will grow throughout the season, which is why I’m picking it to beat Miami at home in mid-November. Overall, that’s 8-4, with a 5-3 mark in the ACC, which probably won’t be good enough to win the division title. With all the departures after last year, I’d still consider that a successful season, one that bodes well for the future in 2019.
Final Record: 8-4
Will Stewart – TechSideline
Analysis: The Hokies are talented, but I think they’re simply too young to pull off a 10-2 or 11-1 season, and 9-3 (my prediction) may be a little too optimistic. I’m predicting the Hokies will win their two big home games — Notre Dame and Miami — but stumble in a road game against always-tough-in-Heinz-Field Pittsburgh, and at home against Georgia Tech, who has won three of four from Virginia Tech and will give Tech’s young linebackers fits. Many of you may disagree with what I’ve laid out here, but I think it fits perfectly with the Jekyll and Hyde nature of a young, talented team. Great wins will often be followed by head-scratching and enraging losses. The predicted win that I feel most unsure about is Notre Dame, and the predicted loss I feel most unsure about is probably Georgia Tech. Virginia Tech’s not likely to win the Coastal with the 5-3 ACC record I’ve mapped out here, but if they finish with a big win over Miami, a 15th straight win over Virginia, and a bowl victory, fans will feel optimistic heading into 2019 … as they should. This season will have its ups and downs, but it’s really just setting the table for peak years in 2019 and 2020.
Final Record: 9-3
Chris Coleman – TechSideline
Analysis: The first thing I did when making my predictions is place a “W” next to the teams that I believe the Hokies will definitely beat, or stand a great chance of beating. I came up with seven: William & Mary, East Carolina, Old Dominion, Duke, UNC, Boston College and UVA. There are enough question marks surrounding the other five games that you can make an argument for victory or defeat, and nobody could question your reasoning.
For the most part, those games are crap shoots. Florida State, Notre Dame and Miami have more experience and talent than Tech right now. Georgia Tech does not, but it will be the first time most of Virginia Tech’s defense faces that unique offense. Pitt isn’t dynamic, but they’ll be better than they were a year ago because they’ll get better quarterback play, and they always give the Hokies a tough game no matter how good they are.
It’s always tough to make predictions without knowing who will get hurt, and when. I’ll be honest…outside of the seven victories I highlighted in the first paragraph, the other five games are just complete guesses on my part. I feel like this is an 8-4 season, with things taking a leap forward in 2019 as the talent that Justin Fuente’s recruiting gains more experience. That said, I feel a little better about the defense than most people, so I went with 9-3.
Final Record: 9-3
CZYHokie – VTScoop (247Sports)
Analysis: I am predicting the Hokies go 9-3 this season, but there is a part of me that would not be surprised with a 10-win regular season either. I believe Fu beats Taggart to start the season, but I want to see us win the games we should win in ‘18. This season will tell the fans a lot about Fu and company moving forward. VT should not lose to BC this year, but games like this, GT, and Syracuse in past seasons can’t happen for VT to get where they want to be. I believe we are still a season away from competing for the ACC Coastal regularly again, but I do believe VT is on the right track to get back.
Final Record: 9-3
Evan G. Watkins – VTScoop (247Sports)
Analysis: The big question leading into the 2018 season will be on the defensive side of the ball. While my gut tells me that the Hokies will struggle on defense after losing their entire linebacker corps and starting cornerbacks, it is incredibly difficult to doubt that Bud Foster won’t find a way to mask the defensive deficiencies this fall and find a way to keep the offense in games. The season opener, against Florida State, is a toss-up to me. While the Hokies’ defense will be getting their feet wet, so will the Florida State offense who will be playing in a new system with a new head coach. Visions of Virginia Tech vs. Tennessee continue to flash in my mind when thinking about the opener and how the Hokies’ self-inflicted wounds kept them from winning the Battle at Bristol. While Florida State has the advantage of playing at home, there is almost always a learning curve when playing in a new offense for the first time. Containing Cam Akers (because realistically, who can stop him?) will be a major focal point for the Hokies defense, and if they can limit his performance and force a few turnovers, the Hokies could have a chance to make a statement on September 3. Athlete to athlete, Florida State ranks up there with the best, but how will they handle playing in a new system for a new staff? That is the biggest question mark on the night. On paper, I think Florida State escapes at home in a close game, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Hokies could pull off a big road win to open the season.
Regardless of what happens in the opener, Virginia Tech should roll into their home contest against Notre Dame at the worst 4-1. Notre Dame, Georgia Tech, and Miami are going to be defining games down the stretch for the Hokies, but the good news for Virginia Tech is that each of those games will be in Lane Stadium. Georgia Tech has proven to be Justin Fuente’s kryptonite thus far in his Virginia Tech career, but that could be snapped this year, especially coming off of a bye week. The following week at Pittsburgh could be tricky for the Hokies, who seem to always have a tough time at Heinz Field, and combining that with the possibility of looking ahead at Miami, I don’t like that matchup. Miami, while at home, the week after a tough road game is a bad matchup for the Hokies and I see them dropping games to both Pittsburgh and Miami before defeating Virginia in the final game of the season.
Final Record: 9-3
Matej Sis – VTScoop (247Sports)
Analysis: Start slow, finish strong – That’s what I see out of the Hokies in 2018. Florida State is a very winnable game for the Hokies. There is no better time to face a newly coached team than in Week One on national television, where mistakes can be magnified. Ultimately the plethora of talent at Florida State will do enough to edge out the Hokies. Duke will be a rude wake-up call for the Hokies after a three week bender against William & Mary, East Carolina and Old Dominion. The Blue Devils have a scary good back seven on defense, and the offense returns essentially everyone. A veteran team hosting a young Hokies team could be a disastrous start to ACC Coastal play. Despite a home-on-the-road atmosphere, I see Coach Cutliffe having his team ready to break through against Justin Fuente’s squad. Notre Dame always comes in with sky high expectations, but after losing most of their production on offense, will they show up like 2016 or 2017 Notre Dame? The team has CFP aspirations for 2018, and Notre Dame will be battle tested by the time they travel to Blacksburg. Notre Dame dazzles on big stages and I see no exception here. Virginia Tech will finally break their losing streak to Georgia Tech. Playing at home on a Thursday night and a two-week gap between games will give the Hokies enough time to prepare for the triple-option. Pittsburgh is another game that will be decided in the fourth quarter, yet again, but Justin Fuente will find a way to go 3-0 against Pat Narduzzi. Miami is perhaps the single toughest opponent for the Hokies in 2018. Talent-wise, there is no contest. However, Miami showed a lack of focus towards the end of 2017 and if they are injury riddled, it could be a whole different ball-game for a Virginia Tech team that will have worked out most of the inefficiencies by that point of the season. Miami is a strong favorite for the Coastal Crown and could hand the Hokies another primetime loss.
Final Record: 8-4
Dwight Vick – VTScoop (247Sports)
Florida State – It still amazes me how these two teams rarely play each other. But such is life in modern day college football and conference realignment. Even now as I write this, I’m not sure what to expect from the Seminoles. Sure, the Seminoles are super talented and will be playing at home. But those factors don’t guarantee a victory. Yet even though I’m confident Coach Fuente will have his young Hokies ready to play and focused, the Hokies will face a very difficult challenge in beating Florida State on the road. There’s no denying beating the Seminoles in a prime-time matchup on Labor Day night will be not only huge for the Hokies in regard to winning the Coastal Division, but also helps them in regards to national respect, as well as recruiting. Right now, my heart says Hokies, but my head says pick the Seminoles at home. – Loss
William and Mary – I don’t think I will ever take an in-state opponent lightly since JMU upset the Hokies in 2010. And I don’t think the Hokies will take the Tribe lightly this season. Of course, the Tribe will play the Hokies hard, but the Hokies will have too much talent and depth. Hokies win this game. – Win
East Carolina – It seems like this series between the Pirates and the Hokies has been occurring for the last 40 years. Once a thorn in the Hokies’ side, the last two seasons have seen the Pirates fall on hard times. The Hokies have scored a combined 118 points in the last two matchups. I think the Hokies continue to score big against the Pirates in a big win at home. – Win
Old Dominion University – I know I can speak for many Virginians, especially my Tidewater folks, when I say we are definitely looking forward to seeing the Hokies play football in the ‘757’. Last season the Hokies shut out and overmatched ODU. This season expect a strong effort by the Monarchs, as they will play with a great deal of emotion. However, also expect Hokie Nation and the Hokies football team to take over Foreman field. – Win
Duke – Always a well-coached team, the Blue Devils struggled to win games last season. This season expect the Blue Devils to be much improved and a dark horse team to win the Coastal Division. The Hokies will have to beat the Blue Devils on the road this season, but given how well the Hokie Nation travels, the Hokies will have a great deal of support when they travel to Duke in late September. And even though the Blue Devils will be a very good team this season, the Hokies will continue their winning ways in Wallace Wade Stadium. – Win
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Notre Dame – Lane Stadium will be rocking when the Fighting Irish come to Blacksburg. This could be another “earthquake” game in which the Hokie Nation makes so much noise, the world feels it! However, the Irish return a lot of talented players and will be a tough team to beat. I would not be surprised at all to see the Hokies pull out a big victory, but for now I’m going to pick the Irish in a big road win over the Hokies. – Loss
North Carolina – Whether Coach Fuente wants to admit or not, it sure does appear he saves his best game plans for the Tarheels. The Hokies have owned the Tarheels since Coach Fuente’s arrival in Blacksburg. The Tarheels, if healthy, should be better, but the injury bug has already hit them. Combine the injuries with some offseason suspensions due to NCAA violations, I don’t think the Tarheels will beat the Hokies this season. Also look for the Hokie Nation to take over Kenan Stadium. The Hokies should have the Tarheels thinking about basketball season after this one. – Win
Georgia Tech – The last two seasons the Hokies have suffered two extremely disappointing losses to the Yellow Jackets. What’s even more disappointing is the Hokies have been the better team in both losses. This season expect the Hokies not to overthink it and take the points when they can against a very good Georgia Tech team. The Hokies will snap their two-game losing streak by beating the Yellow Jackets in Lane Stadium. – Win
Boston College – Last season after losing to the Hokies, the Eagles won five out of their last six games. The good news is this game is at Lane Stadium, and at this point in the season, the Hokies will have a good idea whether or not they will be in contention to win the Coastal Division. Expect an improved Boston College team, but I still think the Hokies will beat the Eagles at home. – Win
Pittsburgh -The last two matchups between the Panthers and the Hokies have been close wins for the Hokies. And even though the Panthers will be playing at home (Heinz Field), I expect the Hokies to take care of business. And like the previous two matchups, I believe the Hokies are the better team. Hokies will continue their winning streak against the Panthers this season as well. – Win
Miami – Since Coach Fuente arrived at VT and Coach Mark Richt arrived at Miami, both coaches have proven to be great hires for each school. Both coaches have taken their teams to an ACC Championship Game. Coach Fuente and Coach Richt are 1-1 against each other. This season the Hurricanes are expected to play for another ACC Championship, but there are many that believe the Hokies can potentially make it to another ACC Championship Game as well. Anyone that has followed both programs knows historically the Hokies have played well against the Hurricanes and have beaten them many times in Lane Stadium. Especially when the Hurricanes enter the season with high expectations. This matchup will once again be a prime-time matchup between two good teams. However, the Hokies will win this game with defense. There’s a reason Coach Mark Richt twice wanted to hire VT defensive coordinator Bud Foster. Expect Coach Foster to remind the Hurricanes fans why as well – Win
Virginia – The Hokies have owned the Cavaliers, beating them 14 straight seasons. But if you go back to 1999, the Cavaliers have only beaten the Hokies once and that was in 2003. While I think the Cavaliers will be motivated, as their players and coach mentioned VT a lot during ACC media day, I think the Hokies will retain the Commonwealth Cup and keep the winning streak against the Cavaliers alive this season. – Win
Overall, I believe the schedule sets up very nicely for the Hokies. The key games are at home, and whether or not you are a fan of Joshua Jackson, he a solid debut as a freshmen quarterback. Also, his experience will be a key factor in helping the Hokies this season. Of course, the Hokies will be young at key positions, but I think given the history of Coach Foster, I have full confidence players will step up this season.
Final Record: 10-2