After a season-defining meltdown in Ann Arbor, the Irish will face a Virginia Tech team coming off a bye. Notre Dame handled the Hokies in Blacksburg last fall, and you can expect revenge to be on their minds this weekend. The Fighting Irish need to get back on track this Saturday if they have aspirations of 10-wins and a marquee bowl game.
Essential Game Info:
- Game Time: November 2nd at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC
- Location: Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Indiana
- Matchup History: Notre Dame is 1-1 all-time against the Hokies (Last Meeting 2018: Irish won 45 to 23)
- Current Odds: Notre Dame -17.5
The current forecast for GameDay shows a 20% chance of rain with a high of 41 degrees and a low of 30.
Virginia Tech Details:
- Conference: ACC (Coastal Division)
- Head Coach: Justin Fuente
- 2019 Record: 5-2
- 2018 Record: 6-7
Virginia Tech Storylines:
Hokies face Irish in back-to-back years. It’s not often that the Irish face ACC opponents in consecutive seasons, but this weekend Notre Dame and Virginia Tech will square-off once again. The next matchup in this series will be in 2021 when the Irish travel back to Blacksburg.
Virginia Tech is coming off a bye-week and a 6-overtime win against Mack Brown’s Tar Heels the week prior. After getting a blowout at home last fall, a win at Notre Dame is something the Hokies are hungry for this Saturday.
Key Hokie Players. The Virginia Tech Offense is led by quarterback Hendon Hooker, who made his first career start just a few weeks ago in Miami. Hooker is 35 for 61 (57.4%) on the season with 7 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. On the ground, the Virginia Tech Quarterback has 48 rushes for 156 yards with 1 touchdown.
Accompanying Hooker in the running attack is Deshawn McClease. The premier running back for Virginia Tech, McClease, has 97 attempts for 475 yards (4.9 yards per carry) with 3 touchdowns. If the Hokies watched any film, the running game is undoubtedly something they will focus on against the Irish Defense.
Jermaine Waller and Rayshard Ashby lead the Defense. Waller has 3 interceptions, 28 tackles, and 1.5 sacks this fall. While Ashby tallies 71 total tackles and 3 sacks through the season.
Notre Dame Storylines:
Anything less than 10-2 is unacceptable. After the destruction in Ann Arbor, Head Coach Brian Kelly will be on damage control. Notre Dame fans have seen past Brian Kelly led teams give up on the second half of the season, but can the Irish get re-focused against Virginia Tech? We’ll see this Saturday.
On paper, the Irish should win every game left on their schedule, but then again, they were supposed to beat Michigan last week. Not to mention, Notre Dame hasn’t won at Stanford since 2007. Finishing the rest of the year without a loss will not be easy.
What has happened to Ian Book? You know things are getting bad on offense when Brady Quinn is critiquing the Irish Quarterback on social media, and can you blame him? There are countless factors why the Notre Dame Offense is struggling, but the main reason is the quarterback play. The second-year slump for Brian Kelly coached quarterbacks strikes once again.
The Irish Offense has faltered all season. The Notre Dame Offensive statistics have been boosted with the Bowling Green and New Mexico games, perhaps masking the dreadful statistics this fall.
Running Game exposed on both sides of the ball. In College Football, most games are defined by the running attack. Against Michigan, Chip Long’s Offense had 31 rushing attempts for 47 yards, quite a shift from the dominant offensive line they had with Quenton Nelson and Mike McGlinchey a few years ago.
Unfortunately, the Irish Defense couldn’t stop the running game against the Wolverines. Notre Dame gave up 57 rushing attempts for 303 yards last weekend. I’m not as worried about the Irish Defense; they were on the field for the entire game in Ann Arbor. Not to say that effort was acceptable for Notre Dame Football, but the major issue this season is the Irish Offense.
Head to Head Matchups:
Notre Dame Offense vs. Virginia Tech Defense: The Hokie Defense has given up 29.5 points per game this season. Earlier in the year, they surrendered 45 points to Duke and 35 points to Miami. Notre Dame’s Offense has struggled the entire season. If the Irish want to have any shot at finishing the season 10-2, they are going to have to make some drastic changes starting this week.
After the performance in Ann Arbor, I give this matchup a tie.
Virginia Tech Offense vs. Notre Dame Defense: Virginia Tech’s offense has picked up momentum under new quarterback Hendon Hooker. Notre Dame’s defense will be ready to bounce back from last weekend. There is just too much talent on this Irish Defense to perform that poorly two weeks in a row.
Since the Irish are in South Bend, I give Clark Lea’s Defense the advantage.
Advantage: Notre Dame
Special Teams: Brian Johnson headlines the kicking game for Virginia Tech. He is 7 for 11 on the season (63.8%) with a long of 38 yards. Johnson has missed both field goals over 50 yards that he has attempted. Conversely, Jonathan Doerer is 6 for 7 on the season with 1 make over 50 yards.
The Irish Special Teams has been underwhelming this season. With all the speed and talent on the Notre Dame Roster, it’s a shame that the coaching staff can’t trust any player to catch the ball and produce a viable return.
After laying an unexpected egg in Ann Arbor last weekend, Notre Dame looks to bounce back against Virginia Tech. Per usual, the Hokies will be coming off a bye-week. Although that certainly didn’t help the Irish any last weekend.
It’s time to see just how much Brian Kelly and this program has developed. In the past, Irish teams have fallen apart once they racked up two losses. But, if Notre Dame wants to continue recruiting success, maintain culture, and finish the season strong, they must take care of business this weekend.
The Virginia Tech Hokies are a quality football team. The Irish Offense will have to find a way to put up points. But, I think the Irish Defense will play better at Notre Dame Stadium and find a way to get a much-needed victory.
Prediction: Notre Dame 31 Virginia Tech 24