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November 16, 2013

Staff Picks: Hokies vs Terps

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After a huge win at Miami to put themselves back in the hunt for the coastal division, can the Hokies keep the momentum going and take down Maryland in the last meeting between the two as ACC members? Maryland is heading to the Big Ten next season.

We take our shots at calling what will happen at today's 12:30 pm ET kickoff.

Jason Stamm, publisher

Finally, Virginia Tech showed at Miami what the offense was supposed to look like all along. There was a mix of run and pass, long and short and the playmakers made plays. Redshirt freshman running back Trey Edmunds cured much of his running ailments and redshirt freshman wide receiver Joshua Stanford looks like a bona fide top receiver.

The bottom line though, is the turnovers. When Logan Thomas has no turnovers, as was the case at Miami, the Hokies usually win. When he doesn't, they usually don't.

Of course, Virginia Tech did have a pair of fumbles, both of which were recovered by the Hokies, including one for touchdown.

Though the offense seems to have found its stride, there's still a few areas of concern for Virginia Tech. First, senior cornerbacks Antone Exum and Kyle Fuller are both out, with ankle and groin injuries. The good news is that this is where the depth comes in to play. Freshmen Kendall Fuller and Brandon Facyson have excelled all season and should continue to do so.

The other concern is at kicker. After a rocky time at Virginia Tech, senior Cody Journell was dismmissed for yet another violation of team rules. New walk-on Eric Kristenson and Michael Branthover will split the duties and that could be an adventure.

Of course, Maryland is pretty beat up too, most glaringly at wide receiver where the top two, Stefon Diggs and Deon Long, are out with broken legs. Quarterback C.J. Brown is a bit beat up, too.

The bottom line though, is turnovers. As long as the Hokies take care of the ball, they should win easily. And for a second week in a row, the offense should be humming.

PREDICTION: Virginia Tech 31-13

Doug Bowman, senior writer

This Terrapins team has been decimated by injuries to its top playmakers offensively. That is the main reason I expect the Hokies to take this one handily.

Maryland's running game just isn't enough of a threat against the stout Virginia Tech defense to get anything going offensively. That is, unless Thomas reverts to turning the ball over again.

I could see the Hokies coming out of the gate a little slow because of the senior day festivities, but after settling in and allowing the defense to do their thing for a couple drives, things should turn in VT's favor. Against a young and shaky Maryland offensive line, look for a number of sacks and a few errant decisions from Brown. All in all, it should be a fun day for the Hokies' defense on Saturday.

PREDICTION: Virginia Tech 27-9

Mike Stancik, staff writer

This Maryland team is a long way from the 4-0 start it had this season. Losers of three straight and four of five, the Terrapins certainly aren't coming into Blacksburg riding a hot streak.

Meanwhile, Virginia Tech produced undoubtedly the best performance of the 2013 season with a 42-24 victory last week in Miami. If you combine the two, it doesn't exactly create a favorable outcome for Maryland. The Hokies are currently 16-point favorites in Vegas, and I expect this game to follow that outlook.

Facyson and Kendall Fuller have proven that they can be shutdown corners, and I don't expect the Terps to find much success in the air as a result. On the other side of the ball, it will be interesting to see what the offense does for an encore after accumulating an impressive 549 yards last week. The only way this game stays close is if Maryland is able to control the clock by running the ball a la Boston College, but that doesn't exactly look likely after the Terps put up 3 points on Syracuse last week.

I think Thomas achieves a third 300-yard game in a row thanks to some added chemistry between him and the receivers, and Virginia Tech forces three turnovers in a game that's decided early. For an added bonus, Miami beats Duke and the Hokies will be squarely in the driver's seat to capture an ACC Title berth.

PREDICTION: Virginia Tech 31-10


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