This is part 12 of a 12 piece series examining all 12 ACC school’s 2012 schedule and making predictions based on returning players and incoming talent. Today we focus on the defending Coastal Division champion Virginia Tech Hokies.
The Hokies are coming off a very good season in which they finished with a record with an 11-3 record. They lost in the ACC Championship game to Clemson, and then received an at-large berth to the Sugar Bowl where they lost to Michigan, despite thoroughly outplaying the Wolverines. They were able to do this even though they lost Virginia Tech’s winningest all-time quarterback Tyrod Taylor. Taylor’s departure opened up the door for Logan Thomas to take the reins. Thomas had a spectacular season and threw for over 3,000 yards. When you added David Wilson (ACC Player of the Year) as the running back it made the Hokies backfield almost unstoppable.
Virginia Tech’s offense is the big question in 2012. The Hokies have lost four of five of their starters on the offensive line, two starting receivers (Danny Coale and Jarrett Boykin) and their top two running backs (David Wilson and Josh Oglesby). The defense, on the other hand, may be one of the best that defensive coordinator Bud Foster has ever had. If there is one thing that we know for sure about Virginia Tech it is that they are consistent and everything always balances out so it is safe to believe that the Hokies will once again win 10 games.
The Hokies start out the season at home against Coastal division rival Georgia Tech. The winner of this game has gone on to win the Coastal division every year since division play was adopted in the ACC. This will be a close game on Labor Day, but Virginia Tech will pull the win out. Bud Foster has all summer to prepare for the Yellow Jackets triple option offense and GT struggles when a team has longer than a week to prepare for it (predicted VT record 1-0).
Virginia Tech then has a quick turnaround because they play Austin Peay five days after the game against GT. This is simply a tune up game to get ready for the rest of the season. VT wins this game easily (VT record 2-0). The Hokies then travel to take on future ACC foe Pittsburgh. Pitt was a middle of the road team in the Big East last year when they finished with a 6-7 record. Pitt won’t be much better this year and Virginia Tech should come out on top (VT record 3-0).
The Hokies will then host Bowling Green in week 4. Bowling green wasn’t a good team in the MAC last year. They finished the season with a 5-7 record. Virginia Tech is simply the better team in this game and it is hard to conceive of a way in which the Falcons can win this game (VT record 4-0). Virginia Tech finishes its out of conference schedule with a game against Cincinnati in a rematch of the 2009 Orange Bowl. The Bearcats tied with West Virginia for the Big East Championship last season. Cincinnati is a good team, but Virginia Tech will have the edge in this one because they have the better coach (Frank Beamer) and a better quarterback in Logan Thomas (VT record 5-0).
Tech returns to conference play in week 6 when they travel to Chapel Hill to take on North Carolina. These two met in Blacksburg last year and the Hokies won by a score of 24-21. This game wasn’t as close as the score indicated. Virginia Tech was clearly the better team on the field and there will be a similar result in 2012 (VT record 6-0). The Hokies will then host Duke in Lane Stadium. Duke has always given Virginia Tech some trouble, and these two usually play close games (the final score last year was 14-10). However these games always end the same way, a Virginia Tech win, and the same thing will happen this year (VT record 7-0).
Virginia Tech then faces a tough three game stretch that starts with a road game against Clemson. The Tigers were the Hokies kryptonite last year. Tech lost to Clemson twice last year (both by large margins). It will be a closer game this year, simply because of pride on the Hokies part, but Clemson is just too good at home (VT record 7-1).
The Hokies then start their annual two week stint of Thursday night games with a trip to Miami. The Hurricanes-Hokies game last year may have been the most entertaining game of the entire ACC schedule. Logan Thomas scored in the final minute to make the score 38-35 which ended up being the final. This game will be close but the Hokies will pull it out because Miami no longer has Lamar Miller or Jacory Harris (VT record 8-1).
Virginia Tech will then host its annual Orange Effect game in Lane Stadium against Florida State. FSU used to own the Hokies under Bobby Bowden, but when Jimbo Fisher became head coach the tides turned and Frank Beamer now has the advantage. The Hokies win this game for three reasons: first it’s a Thursday night game in Lane, second they have a better head coach and third they have a slightly better quarterback (VT record 9-1).
The Hokies then travel to Alumni stadium to take on Boston College. The Hokies are simply the better team here and the final score will reflect that (VT record 10-1). Tech will finish the regular season by hosting archrival Virginia. The Hokies beat the Cavaliers by a score of 38-0 and that game was in Charlottesville. Virginia will at least score in this one but the Hokies will continue to dominate their instate rival (VT record 11-1).
Virginia Tech will once again have a 10-win season in 2012. Their record at the end of the season will be 11-1 with a 7-1 record in ACC play. The Hokies will win the Coastal Division again in 2012 which will give them a berth into the ACC Championship Game.