For Hokie fans, there were a lot of questions heading into the Virginia Tech Boston College game.
Could Tech get that elusive win on the road? They had yet to win away from Lane Stadium this year, and they had yet to beat a Power 5 team on the road under head coach Brent Pry.
Was Boston College for real? They came into this game riding a five-game winning streak, but none of those games were against teams with winning records except Georgia Tech, who was 5-4 before losing to Clemson this weekend.
Could Virginia Tech find a way to play a spirited game in Chestnut Hill, at a stadium where they have had their share of struggles, especially their last two trips up there that resulted in losses?
How would the Hokies respond after last week’s blowout loss at Louisville, where they only scored three points and tallied 140 total yards of offense?
Well, those questions and a few more were answered in Virginia Tech’s 48-22 domination over the Boston College.
The Hokies followed their dismal performance in Louisville with an offensive outburst, moving themselves one win away from bowl eligibility. Virginia Tech will now have to win only one of their next two games to secure a bowl bid.
Explosion from the Virginia Tech Offense
Virginia Tech erupted for 45 points and 600 yards of total offense against Boston College. The 45 points were the most in an ACC road game since scoring 52 at Virginia in 2005. The 600 yards were the most in a road conference game since gaining 675 at Pittsburgh in 1993.
The offense was run-heavy but still balanced, finishing with 237 yards passing and a whopping 363 yards on the ground. Tech ended with 72 total plays and 36 minutes of possession.
Individually, quarterback Kyron Drones led the attack with 219 yards passing. Da’Quan Felton eclipsed the century mark with 101 yards on four catches, the first receiver to reach 100 this year. (He is the first Tech receiver to reach 100 yards since Kaleb Smith racked up 152 yards at Pitt last season.) Meanwhile, tight end Dae’Quan Wright had 58 yards, also on four receptions.
Drones led the ground attack as well with 135 yards rushing. Bhayshul Tutel added 78 yards and three touchdowns, and Grant Wells’ QB scamper went for 60 yards before he was chased down just before the goal line. Unfortunately, Wells fumbled out of the back of the end zone, otherwise Tech would have likely scored 52 points on the day.
In its five wins, Virginia Tech has scored 36, 38, 30, 38, and now 48 points. Remember, this was a team that a year ago did not score 30 at all during the season. And it is a team that struggled mightily to score in September.
Since that Marshall game, Tech is now 4-2 with losses only to the two ACC leaders in Florida State and Louisville, both on the road.
In the rest of the contests, Tech has found its offense and has played complimentary football.
#Hokies with season highs in:
✅yards (600, the most since 2018 – 600 vs. ODU)
✅rush yards (363, the most since 2009 – 444 vs. Marshall)
✅rush TDs (4, the most since 2021 – 4 vs. MTSU)
— Will Stewart (@WillStewartTSL) November 11, 2023
Virginia Tech is Establishing an Identity
It is well-known that Brent Pry wants his team to establish the run. He has said it repeatedly since being hired almost two years ago. In their four ACC wins, the Hokies have done just that – run the ball successfully.
Coming into this game, Virginia Tech had outrushed its ACC foes 658-73 in its three victories. On Saturday, the Hokies outrushed BC 363-124. So now, in their four ACC wins, Tech has run the ball 199 times and has outgained its opponents 1021-197 on the ground! That is indeed establishing the run!
This is a sharp turnaround from the previous six years under Fuente, when the team didn’t seem to know who it was offensively. Granted, last year Tech was not good at running the ball, but they weren’t good at much offensively in 2022. This year, Pry’s offense is successful when it dedicates itself to establishing the run.
The coaching staff has been aggressive too, especially in Boston. That early onsides kick was gutsy – and well executed! On Saturday, Tech was 2 for 2 on fourth down conversions. With under a minute to go and 90-plus yards to go, Drones was throwing the ball downfield instead of taking a knee.
Earlier in the year, Tech executed a fake punt against Wake Forest. They have run several trick plays so far. They are now 13 of 21 on fourth downs, which is not a great percentage, but it is a total of 21 fourth-down attempts. Through ten games, that averages to two per game. This team is being aggressive.
When they have a successful running game and an aggressive mindset, Virginia Tech is a tough team to beat.
The Hokies Have Established Themselves as a Solid Middle-of-the-Pack ACC Team
With this blowout victory in Boston, the Hokies have shown that they are solidly among the middle of the pack in the ACC, which should be ok with Tech fans. At 4-2, they are currently tied with UNC and NC State for third place.
The Hokies have only lost ACC games to the top two schools in Florida State and Louisville, both on the road. In the other four games against Pittsburgh, Wake Forest, Syracuse, and now Boston College, the Hokies have won by a combined 154-66.
While it is no fun to lose big to the top teams – this is, after all, the middle of a rebuild – it is good to beat the lower echelon teams so soundly.
Hokie Nation should be comfortable with this. To get back to the “bowl standard” of yore, Tech has to beat the bottom-dwellers and go 50-50 or better with the middle of the pack. So far they have done that.
If Tech could have gone 2-2 in their non-conference games, they would be bowl eligible already.
So now Tech has to play a solid team in NC State and a bottom-feeder in UVa. If they want to be .500 and make a bowl, they have to win one of them.
And if they win both, I think that is a good statement for this team to make. With so much of their roster eligible to return next year, this could be a springboard to success in 2024.
End of a Non-Rivalry
Virginia Tech and Boston College have played every year since 1993 (except 2004), with extra games in 2007 and 2008 when they also met in the ACC championship game. Despite being in different divisions, the league put these two schools together as an annual crossover “rivalry.”
If you talk to most Hokie fans, there is nothing about this matchup that checks the “rivalry” boxes. Sure, BC broke Tech’s hearts a few times, most notably in the infamous Matt Ryan Thursday night game, but Tech has generally controlled this so-called rivalry, winning 21 of the 32 games. What Virginia Tech fan actually looks forward to playing Boston College every year?
BC is a private school that is 700 miles from Blacksburg. Outside of a Doug Flutie Hail Mary pass, they have no real football tradition. Their small stadium rarely sells out, and their team is usually within a few games of .500.
Boston is a nice destination for an occasional road trip, but it is a very long drive or an expensive flight. It takes quite an effort to go up there more than once, especially for a less-than-stellar environment.
More importantly, Virginia Tech has played Boston College in 19 regular season games since 2005. In that same time, the Hokies have only had six regular season contests with Clemson, five with Florida State, and after next weekend, seven with North Carolina State.
Tech fans are not too pleased that they have played more regular season ACC games with Boston College than they have with those other three schools combined, schools with rabid fan bases.
This just is not a rivalry.
Hokie Nation is happy to see the new schedule rotation that the ACC recently released. Because of the expansion to 17 teams, the schedule had to be changed, and now Virginia Tech and Boston College will only see each other twice over the next seven years.
And while an annual clash will come to an end, this is hardly like the Bedlam Rivalry ending. This one is actually celebrated by at least one of the fan bases.
Final Thoughts on the Virginia Tech Boston College Game
With this victory, Brent Pry got his first road win over a Power 5 school and his second ever win away from Lane Stadium. Now the Hokies need to beat either North Carolina State at home or Virginia on the road and they will go bowling.
Coming into the year, most Hokies would have been satisfied with a 6-6 record and a bowl bid. That would indicate solid improvement over year one with a new coaching staff.
And after that disastrous September start of 1-3, a .500 record and a bowl bid should actually be applauded. It is right there for the taking. Tech just has to win one more game.
But that one game is no gimme, as NC State plays tough defense and UVa has shown some life lately. But it is reasonable to anticipate that the Hokies can take one of those two games.
It is the last question of today – can the Hokies win one of their last two?
If they stay committed to the run and stay aggressive, the answer will be yes.
- Watching this game on TV, Hokie Nation was beside itself listening to Orlando Franklin, the ACC Network color commentator, constantly refer to Virginia Tech as “V-Tech.” Hokie fans don’t like being called “VAH-Tech” or “V-Tech” in the first place, but his overuse of the moniker was downright maddening. He must’ve read his Twitter account at halftime though, because he issued an apology and an explanation for his use of the term (and then he proceeded to say “V-Tech once more right after that!)
- Targeting fouls continue to be the bane of my existence. It seems that there is total inconsistency in the enforcement of the penalty, and I feel like I have no grasp on what is and what is not targeting. Early in the game, a play was reviewed for this foul, and even the announcers were saying how they though the Boston College player would be ejected. He was not. He clearly lowered his head and made forcible helmet-to-helmet contact with the punt returner. Then the referees said no targeting and play moved on. When even the announcers call for targeting, it’s head-scratching when the review comes in otherwise.
- Speaking of targeting, perhaps it is time for the NCAA to modify the penalties for the foul? Certain helmet-to-helmet hits are egregious and should result in ejections. But others, like the one that was not called in this game, are incidental not intentional. Those players should not be thrown out on their first offense of this magnitude. They should receive a 15-yard penalty but stay in the game, much like an unsportsmanlike conduct call. Only on a second helmet-to-helmet hit should they be disqualified. But I digress, I’m probably preaching to the choir.
- Boston College fans who were watching the game should be scratching their heads about the early play-calling. BC came into this contest with a run-first quarterback and an average of over 200 rushing yards per game. So what do they call on their first play on offense? A pass play, and Dorian Strong promptly intercepted it. A few series later, Strong pulled down his second interception. Thank you, BC, for those gifts!
- After lighting up headlines and social media with 15 sacks in two games, the Hokies defense has gone cold in that department. They only registered one sack last week in Louisville, and this week they failed to take down the quarterback on a pass play (and only had two tackles for loss). That’s ok though, as the defense limited Boston College to 262 total yards. It was a solid output from the D.
- Stephen Gosnell scored his first touchdown of the season, becoming the first non-2023 transfer to score a touchdown for Virginia Tech this year. However, Gosnell was originally at UNC and came to Tech before the 2022 season, so when Malachi Thomas scored later in the game, he became the first non-transfer to score a TD this year. What a difference the portal has made!
Touchdown Malachi Thomas. First home grown VT player (non transfer) to score a touchdown this season @VTScoop247
— EvanGWatkins247 (@EvanGWatkins247) November 11, 2023
- The Hokies’ next opponent is North Carolina State, led by former Virginia quarterback Brennan Armstrong. North Carolina State is a 7-win team who plays good defense, so they will be a formidable foe. We know Armstrong can run and can throw, but Lane Stadium has not been kind to him. Here’s hoping that his new uniform yields the same results.
- Virginia Tech returns to Blacksburg on November 18th for its final home game of the season. It’s senior day, so Tech will celebrate the last game at Lane for Mario Kendricks, Norrell Pollard, and a handful of other seniors who may opt to leave this year (there are a few “seniors” who could return because of the Covid season or a medical redshirt).
- Next week Tech is also honoring one of its greatest defensive players of all-time. Corey Moore will be on hand to be acknowledged during the game for his upcoming induction into the National College Football Hall of Fame. Let’s hope he does the pre-game “Let’s Go, Hokies” cheer, but beforehand he starts by saying, “Welcome to the Terrordome!” That will send the Lane faithful into a frenzy!
- Kickoff for next week is at 3:30 pm and the game will be televised by ACC Network (please, oh please do not have someone on there who calls us “V-Tech” again!). It is the last game in Lane Stadium this year. It is the last time that 66,000 people will jump to “Enter Sandman.” A bowl bid is on the line. Don’t miss it!
To read more of my articles on Virginia Tech football, click here.