The 2023 Virginia Tech Football Schedule: More Difficult Than 2022, On Paper

Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech hosts Syracuse on a Thursday night. (Jon Fleming)

When I first saw the schedule yesterday, already knowing the opponents and dates of Virginia Tech’s first four non-conference football games, the first thing my eyes went to was the opening games of the ACC slate. The first three names I saw were Pitt, Florida State, and Wake Forest, and I thought, “Yikes, that’s tough.”

Pitt has been a good program recently, though I’m not sure how good it’ll be this year. Florida State is coming off a 10-win season with victories over LSU and Oklahoma, and by the end of the year, I thought the Seminoles were the best team in the ACC. Wake Forest is among the best coached teams in the country. The Demon Deacons were 8-5, 11-3 and 8-5 (27-13 overall, 14-10 ACC) in their last three non-COVID seasons.

So yeah, those are tough games. Then I started thinking about it a little deeper and realized that if the Hokies started off with Louisville, Boston College and Syracuse, I would be saying the exact same thing. On paper, those three teams aren’t as tough as the trio of Pitt, FSU and Wake, but we’re not exactly talking about a normal Virginia Tech team, are we?

We’re talking about a football team that went 1-6 in the ACC last season, including a six-game conference losing streak, with a seven-game overall losing streak before winning that final non-conference matchup with Liberty. When you’re 1-6, they’re all tough. When you’re 1-6, just about everybody else seems the same. From my Virginia Tech perspective, there’s really no difference between Florida State and Louisville. FSU is better, but coming off a 1-6 season, they both feel like losses to me, so they’re the same in that sense.

If I knew exactly how good Virginia Tech was going to be in 2023, I suppose I would feel differently. Don’t get me wrong, the unknown is fun. However, the unknown would be a lot less scary if the Hokies were coming off an 8-3 season instead of a 3-8 campaign. I look at that 2023 schedule, and with no FCS opponent, I believe that every game is losable. Certainly, I don’t believe that the Hokies will lose every game. They won’t. Still, in my head, it’s hard for me to go from 3-8 to something above .500.

Usually, even in Tech’s .500 seasons, I look at the schedule before each season and I can find a way in my head for the Hokies to win each individual matchup (except for those years where they play at Pitt, or course). I can’t quite do that this year, though I’m not too far away from being able to do it. I can see the Hokies winning 11 of their 12 individual matchups. The one I can’t see them winning at all is the matchup with Florida State in Tallahassee.

So let’s take it game by game. Here’s a quick paragraph on how I feel right now about each matchup (without having done much research on each team)…

ODU: The Hokies took the Monarchs’ best receiver, and their top tight end is gone. A quick internet search tells me that they didn’t add much in the transfer portal, either. Virginia Tech should win this football game and start 1-0. However, it’s also a losable game if the Hokies haven’t improved. This is one of those odd games where I can see Tech winning handily, and I could also see them getting upset. I do think they’ll win, though.

Purdue: The Big Ten West Champs lost head coach Jeff Brohm to Louisville (I think Cincinnati should have hired Brohm, but that’s just me). I don’t know much about the personnel, but Ryan Walters is a first-year head coach. He’s from the Fuente coaching tree, serving as the CB coach at Memphis in 2014 before moving to Missouri with