Virginia Tech Hokies Odds to win the College Football National Championship with Expert Betting Predictions
This is a big year for head coach Justin Fuente, but not in the way it often is for a third-year coach. He's not scrambling to hold on to his job - far from it after 19 wins and two Top 2 division finishes in two seasons. But this year the roster is more his than it has been before, so Fuente gets to prove - or not - that what he is doing in Blacksburg is because of him and not because he is just babysitting what Frank Beamer built.
2017 in a Nutshell
Things opened up strong as the Hokies beat a ranked West Virginia team on a neutral field in the opener and then rolled through the remaining weak nonconference schedule. But reality hit hard when they hosted Clemson, and it didn't go that well. They lost by two touchdowns and weren't a major threat. They rebounded by beating Boston College, North Carolina and Duke - which they absolutely have to be doing. But again, when the competition got tougher they weren't quite ready - they were beaten soundly by Miami and then let the hangover from that linger in a regrettable loss at Georgia Tech. Pitt and Virginia went down to cap a 9-3 season, but in the Camping World Bowl they never looked comfortable enough against Oklahoma State and lost by nine. A fine year in many ways, but not as good as the one prior and not where the team really wants to be.
Key Additions and Departures
Josh Jackson started all 13 games for the team last year at QB, but the coaching staff doesn't seem entirely committed to him. Kansas transfer Ryan Willis is now eligible, freshman Hendon Hooker is off his redshirt, and true freshman Quincy Patterson has four stars and a potent arm, so the competition will be intense if the team wants it to be. Second-leading rusher Travon McMillian transferred to Colorado, but as much as any team out there the Hokies adhere to running back by committee, so this is not much of a concern. Tight end is deep, but there is more uncertainty at receiver. Six of the seven top receivers are back, but the problem is that the one who is gone, Cam Phillips, was by far the most productive and effective. There is a whole lot of uncertainty in his absence. On the line have three returning starters and a fourth upperclassman who can step in and build off of plenty of experience, with nice depth behind them. The line will be fine.
The defense had four players drafted and lost a lot. It is going to have to hope young guys are ready to step up. The consistency of Bud Foster eternally running the Virginia Tech defense - this is his 23rd year as coordinator - helps, though. The line lost Tim Settle but returns three starters and has tremendous upperclassman depth. The issues up front are still a year away. At linebacker, though, their oldest scholarship player is a sophomore. That's what happens when you play four fifth-year seniors last year. On top of that, senior Mook Reynolds, who was going to be the leader of the group, was kicked off the team this summer. No one can know what the linebackers will be like. And the secondary is just as uncertain. They lost two top players in the draft, another to graduation, and a fourth to season-ending injury. And Adonis Alexander, who had started 15 games over the last couple of years, was kicked off the team this summer. If you can play in the secondary and still have eligibility, you could head to Blacksburg - they might need you.
The team planned to make no coaching changes, but they were forced into a late one. Co-defensive coordinator Galen Scott got caught having affairs when he travelled and left. His interim replacement has a recruiting focus, so it remains to be seen how that plays out on the field. He also coached safeties, so the timing isn't great given the changes back there.
Biggest Area of Concern
That back seven on defense is terrifying. Youth, questions, a lack of leadership. It could all turn out okay, but there is no way to be sure of that.
Virginia Tech Hokies Schedule Analysis
With so many changes, a team would love to ease into the season. The Hokies don't get that, opening in Tallahassee as Willie Taggart looks to make a first statement at the helm of the Seminoles. Then things get easy, though perhaps too late - William & Mary, East Carolina, Old Dominion and Duke make up an almost impossibly easy month. They host Notre Dame before again easing into a softer stretch - North Carolina Georgia Tech, Boston College and Pitt. While they simply have to sweep that first four-game slate, three of four wouldn't be a disaster in this stretch. Then it's a tough one at home against Miami before closing out by hosting rival Virginia, which shouldn't be very good. There are a lot of low points on that schedule that the team needs to feast on.
2018-19 Virginia Tech Hokies Betting Odds and Trends
The Hokies sit at +10000 to win the national title, which has them well beyond the top contenders. They are the +1400 fourth choice to win the ACC and the +235 second choice to win the ACC Coastal, behind Miami at +115. The season win total sits at 8.5, with the "under" solidly favored.
2018-19 Virginia Tech Hokies Predictions and College Football Picks
How many of Florida State, Notre Dame and Miami can they beat? That's what this season comes down to. Two are at home, and all three have some questions entering the season, so the Hokies would be in some trouble if they don't win any - even with this defense. One win there and eight of nine the rest of the way sounds fair, so I lean towards the "over", but not enthusiastically. And all of the positivity I have here is due to a belief in Fuente.
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