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The last time Notre Dame lost a regular season game before their defeat at the hands of Cincinnati the Irish were greeted with a meeting against Virginia Tech (2019). Ian Book’s last minute heroics saved the Irish that afternoon as Notre Dame wouldn’t lose again that year.
Is the same story going to be written in 2021? A ton of questions linger for Notre Dame as they hit the road to take on a Virginia Tech team that has been defensively sound so far this fall.
What happens Saturday night after “Enter Sandman” rips through the Lane Stadium speakers?
Here is how the Fighting Irish Wire staff sees things going:
Geoffrey Clark (4-1):
Let’s not pretend the Irish’s offense is anything close to world-class, especially after last weekend. The defense hasn’t been that great, either, though the struggles of that unit are not as obvious. However, compared to what the Hokies have to offer, this is like an undefeated prep team playing one that finished just over .500 in the first round of the state playoffs. College football games are won based on who has better talent often than not, and no one on the Hokies appears to be a real threat, even with the backing of that vaunted home-field advantage awaiting.
Prediction: Notre Dame 24, Virginia Tech 20
Michael Chen (3-2):
First off, if you’re a gambler, don’t listen to me. The last two weeks, I’ve been wrong but hopefully get back on the winning path this week. This one won’t be easy for the Irish, there’s a brewing quarterback controversy, the Hokies are a load at home and Notre Dame is coming off a tough loss to Cincinnati. This game will hinge on what Notre Dame’s offense does against Virginia Tech’s defense and I’m a bit concerned. I have never had faith in Jack Coan, and looking back at last week, it seemed like Drew Pyne did enough to win the job. Brian Kelly is relying on experience in a tough road environment but what happens if the offense puts up another zero through the half? Will Pyne have to dig the Irish out of a second half hole for the second straight week? I have faith that the Irish defense will be able to hold down the Hokie offense, the strides have been impressive on that side of the ball. This game is going to be closer than we would like to see but Kelly should have his team motivated and the defense will step up and carry them.
Prediction: Notre Dame 21, Virginia Tech 17
Jeff Feyerer (4-1):
Coming off a dud of a loss to Cincinnati and then having to go on the road to Blacksburg is no small task for the Irish. Especially when they don’t really have a quarterback. For the second straight week, Notre Dame will face a team coming off a bye, but the Hokies aren’t exactly blowing anyone’s doors off this season. Their offense struggles to move the ball so they’ll rely on a defense that gets after the quarterback and turns the other team over. Given the Irish offensive line struggles and Virginia Tech’s strengths, I would like them to start Drew Pyne to take advantage of his mobility. Who knows what will happen? I do think if Brian Kelly and Tommy Rees can, they should grind the overaggressive Hokies down on the ground. My bold predictions (other than my actual game prediction): They’re going to rush for 200 yards for the first time all year.
Prediction: Notre Dame 27, Virginia Tech 17
Nick Shepkowski (4-1):
Regardless of which quarterback Brian Kelly ends up going with Saturday night it’ll be a tough ask as Virginia Tech is really good at what the Irish struggle the most; getting after the quarterback. I have nothing against Jack Coan but I’ll flip a dining room table if Kelly goes with him to start this contest. Barring a turnover-return for touchdown fest like we got at the end of Notre Dame-Wisconsin get ready for another game where points are extremely difficult to come by. I don’t trust Virginia Tech to score much but I don’t trust Notre Dame to move the ball. My best advice is bet the under because who wins this game is a complete toss up like the line indicates. Notre Dame hasn’t lost two in a row since the last two games of 2016 so with that I’ll go with the Irish by a (very small) nose.
Prediction: Notre Dame 20, Virginia Tech 19
Notre Dame-Virginia Tech Links:
Here is just some of the work the Fighting Irish Wire staff has put together in getting ready for the Irish and Hokies this Saturday night:
Brian Kelly’s final quarterback comments before Virginia Tech game