Virginia Tech Hokies Odds to win the College Football National Championship with Expert Betting Predictions
There is nothing tougher for a program than replacing a legendary coach. Just ask Texas. Early returns indicate, though, that Virginia Tech did a great job of it when they brought in Justin Fuente last year to take over for Frank Beamer. Beamer's on-field performance had slid in his last couple of years, but Fuente ratcheted things up nicely and went 10-4 last year. Fuente is intense in a very good way. You listen to an interview with him and you want to jump up off the couch and tackle something. Nothing is certain, but if Fuente was a stock I'd be buying. So, what does he have in store as an encore?
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2016 in a Nutshell
Let's start at the end - and not just because any time Bret Bielema struggles it's a great thing. Playing in the Belk Bowl, the Hokies fell behind 24-0 at the half to Arkansas. It was ugly. Incredibly, they responded with 35 unanswered points to win by 11. That must have been one heck of a halftime speech.
After beating Liberty to open the season, they lost to Tennessee in that game at Bristol Motor Speedway that nearly 160,000 people attended. They reeled off three straight wins after that, capped by a win at a ranked North Carolina team. Then they lost a regrettable one at Syracuse - they'd definitely like to have that one back. Three more wins followed, including a decisive win over a pretty decent Miami team. They lost to Georgia Tech but then won at Notre Dame and against Virginia to close things out. That earned them a berth in the ACC Championship Game, and they gave eventual national champs Clemson everything they could handle, losing 42-35 in a great game.
Two of the losses weren't great, but all in all it was as much as you could hope for from a program going through a transition like this one. They unquestionably won more games than they should have.
Key Additions and Departures
The defense has been hit very hard by departures. The two top quarterbacks on the depth chart are gone. They lost three running backs that played significant time and three receivers. And two all-Conference caliber linemen are gone, too. All that change could come at a worse time, though, as the ACC Coastal is full of other teams facing big changes at QB as well, like top contender Miami, Pitt and North Carolina. So, they only need to make the transition better than the others to be just fine. Outside of QB they have plenty of depth - not proven depth, but depth. QB is a concern, though, with a race shaping up between a true freshman, a redshirt freshman and a JUCO transfer. Redshirt freshman Josh Jackson probably has the edge, but nothing is certain, and the leash will be short for whoever gets the nod.
On the defense they have a very strong group of starting linemen and then a total mystery behind them. They could be good, but they aren't proven at all. The linebackers are all back, though, and all but a safety returns in the secondary. The defense will be just fine - unless the line gets banged up and the replacements aren't ready.
Fuente had a decent recruiting year, with four four-stars among the 27 recruits in his Top 25 class. He'll get better as he goes along and will likely show patience with much of this group this year.
Virginia Tech Hokies Schedule Analysis
The schedule starts out as a dream for a team essentially breaking in a new offense on the fly. They have four straight opponents - West Virginia, Delaware, East Carolina and Old Dominion - who are not nearly elite. If the team is even a shadow of what they were last year then they stand a good chance of starting 4-0. Then they get a massive test when they host Clemson - another team dealing with a major QB change. Things get easier again with Boston College, North Carolina and Duke before a tough trip to Miami. At Georgia Tech could be a coin flip, but then they shouldn't have too many issues with Pitt and Virginia to close out. I see eight or nine wins fairly handily, with the Clemson and Miami games defining just what kind of season they are going to have.
2017-18 Virginia Tech Hokies Betting Odds and Trends
BetOnline has the team at +8000 to win the national title, which places them behind 21 other teams. That seems fair, since this is far too soon for Fuente to face the pressure of true national relevance. They are fifth to win the conference at +900, but the only team in their division with lower odds is Miami at +550. That also seems fair as the Hurricanes deserve a slight-but-not-insurmountable lead. The Hokies open as 4.5-point favorites in their opener against West Virginia on a neutral field.
The team was just 8-6 ATS last year, but they closed out strong, covering their last four spreads. They also went "over" the total in eight of their 14 games.
2017-18 Virginia Tech Hokies Predictions and College Football Picks
The division is a two-horse race between them and Miami. I'd give the Hurricanes the edge because of the offensive questions here, but it will be close. I really like how the schedule starts for the team, and I think eight or nine regular-season wins is very much in play - as it was last year.
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