All of those, and more, will begin to take shape when spring practice starts in a few weeks, but today all chatter Hokie football related will center around the officially released schedule. VT benefited from a relatively low key non-con schedule last year to help mold a fresh body at QB, and this year he'll take that next step to see how much more he can grow as a player and a leader. While there isn't a huge marquee out of conference foe for the second straight year, this fall will require this Hokie team to be good early, and great later on.
Virginia Tech has tried in the past to start off the year with a big win without much success besides a respectable looking final score. While beating the Yellow Jackets won't be as sexy a victory as against a top-10 team on a neutral field, it will be a much more important victory.
All Tech fans (V and G) know this game has always determined the divisional champion. And while it won't seem as big with 0-0 next to each team, there is never a downside to getting an early lead on the competition. Not to mention the fact that Bud Foster gets all summer, and what should be a completely healthy (knock on wood) defense, to go against this Triple Option offense.
I just hope we make it to kickoff this time.
9/8 Lane Stadium
Instead of being excited about a made for TV game against a conference rival, a lot of Hokies immediately thought "Who are we playing next on such a short week?" There are many demons that each program develops during their ups and downs, and a current down for an otherwise strong ACC history for the Hokies would be the loss against JMU in 2010. Whether it was the emotional letdown from the previous loss, the weather, or as many speculate, a short turn around from the previous game, it's one that won't go away, even after much success.
While beating Austin Peay isn't the cure to bad memories, it should at least not be a repeat in what was a dark day in Hokie football. The only logical way I can see this game going sour is if GT chop-blocks all of the 2-deep on both sides of the both, resulting in season ending injuries to everyone.
Besides that unlikely chain of events, this will be the first of many home games in a row where the most memorable part of the day will be what you choose for your pre-Noon tailgate spread. To breakfast or not to breakfast?
9/15 Heinz Field
This game will be more interesting in the long run than it may be in 2012. A home-and-home with the Panthers was scheduled before the current round of expansion took place, when it was unknown that these two teams would play each other every year from there on out. With the decision to keep this series on the schedule, despite the fact Pitt will be joining not only the same conference, but the same division as the Hokies, these two get to play each other once or twice to figure things out before it effects their conference records.
First road game of the season against a BCS team and old/future conference foe will make this a better road trip than either ECU or Marshall last year for those who like to travel. It also helps that it won't be cold yet up north, even though Virginia Tech is one of the few ACC teams that possible cold games in the future won't be advantageous over. If anything, go so you can sit inside one of the shooting locations for one of 2012's biggest movie releases (The Dark Knight Rises).
9/22 Lane Stadium
There isn't much I can say to hype up this game. A Bowling Green team that finished 5-7 last year comes into town with uglier versions of both of Virginia Tech's colors. The shades and fowl chosen just seem to lack the personality and style (term used loosely) I've grown accustomed to over the past quarter century.
Once again, the most time consuming decisions of the day will be relegated to tailgate and clothing choices instead of actual football strategy. Excitement level expected to be down, even if undefeated and highly ranked.
9/29 Fed-Ex Field
The Bearcats finished last season with 10 wins and a ranking next to their name. While the Big East will continue to fight for its post-expansion relevance and direction over the next couple years, Cincinnati can take advantage of leaving members to continue to finish at the top of the standings.
The Hokies have played Cincy a number of times in their ACC lives, most memorably in the Orange Bowl in 2009. The games have never been terribly close or competitive over a full 60-minutes, but they haven't been blow outs either. The past couple trips to Fed-Ex Field haven't ended in the Hokies favor, so another one of those small demons will be there in the back of some people's minds in the week leading up to this one.
10/6 Kenan Stadium
Conference play will continue for good with a trip to Chapel Hill. As much as I don't like UNC as a program, I have to give credit where credit is due. They have one of the best looking campuses we have the pleasure of going to every couple years. It is hard to talk in depth about this team as they'll be starting over with a new coach for the second straight season, but I still recommend the trip given the time of year.
While they may be lacking in intimidation, the campus of UNC is picture perfect in the early fall on a sunny Saturday afternoon. Parking is scarce, which makes the tailgating rather non-existent, at least in large quantities This is one of those places you'll enjoy your pre-game more if you sleep that extra hour in the morning, and spend time leading up to kickoff walking around the campus.
10/13 Lane Stadium
It is a little frustrating that this will be the third home game in a row that many people will be debating whether or not to go or just watch on TV. We have the conference doormat coming into town after six straight weeks of games without a weekend off. With the bulk of the season starting the following week, this may be many fans' bye weekend.
Perhaps if this game was on Friday the 13th instead of Saturday the 13th, there would be at least a supernatural element to suggest a surprise outcome, but most people will know what they're going to see this day. With three weeks between the previous home game and the next one, I'm sure there will still be a strong outcome from the Hokie faithful, even if it doesn't look like a rather appealing game here in February.
10/20 Memorial Stadium
Revenge. Revenge, revenge, revenge.
This is pretty much what this game will be about for most Hokie players, coaches, and fans. Regardless of either teams' record, ranking, or place in the standings, the Hokies will want to win this game badly. Logan Thomas and others on offense will want to erase two horrible performances against this team, and the boys on defense might have a bone or two to pick as well.
Clemson ranks right up there with Virginia Tech in terms of "must see" locations for college football. The fan base, stadium, and small city atmosphere are perfect to encapsulate football in the south, and as close to SEC style tailgating I've seen in the conference. This will also be the beginning of three tough weeks that could make or break the season for Tech.
11/1 (Thursday) Sun Life Stadium
Virginia Tech and Thursday night games are almost a given every season. While it has been Georgia Tech and UNC the past couple seasons, we get some new blood this year with a couple of teams from the Sunshine State.
Attendance at Sun Life has been "meh" at best the past few games against VT, and hopefully the Thursday night atmosphere will make it more respectable for national tv. Just hopefully it isn't a good enough turnout to give the Canes a reason to play hard. Best case scenario, a couple of ranked teams battle it out for a national audience to help with an ACC image that needs improving. As long as the Hokies walk away victorious of course.
11/8 (Thursday) Lane Stadium
More than likely, it will either be Clemson or FSU in Charlotte representing the Atlantic division. The fact that the Hokies have to play them both in-season could set up yet another rematch between two teams in the conference championship (has happened in 4 of the 7 title games so far).
This could also be one of the biggest Thursday night games in VT history if the season pans out in a realistic way. Early advantage in skill may lean towards the Seminoles, but they'll also have to travel from Florida to a possibly freezing Blacksburg. How the Hokies will fare against the "Big 3" won't be known for another eight months, but I'm sure we'll hear about every possible scenario and outcome between now and then.
11/17 Alumni Stadium
The Hokies will return to normal Saturday football when they head up to cold Chestnut Hill in mid-November, although it probably won't feel much like it. Boston College won't be the best team by any stretch of the imagination this season, but there will be a few things in their favor.
The Hokies will have just gone through a brutal stretch of games, and no matter their record, a couple things you can't get in Massachusetts is reasonable weather and a large college football crowd. Luckily the team gets an extended week to heal up from battle, but I'm calling this as my uninspired performance of the year.
11/24 Lane Stadium
The regular season ends as it always does against UVA on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. There is also no reason to think it won't end in a win as it always does as well. UVA has become a better team under London, and this years team should be a little older and more experienced than years past, but that doesn't change the fact the total score against UVA with London as their coach is a not-so-close 75-7.
The only downside to this annual beatdown is the fact it signifies the end to yet another year of college football. Upon first look, there aren't a ton of huge games, especially not at home outside of GT and FSU. But in February we would watch us play Blacksburg High if it meant seeing Hokie football during the offseason, so we shouldn't take any games for granted, no matter the opponent or location.
The majority of the season will probably rest upon the three game stretch in late October/early November, and my all too early, non-researched prediction would be around a 9-3 or 10-2 regular season record. I won't commit to when those losses will occur, but the important part is an exciting year of Virginia Tech football is both so far, and also oh so close.
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