Three games. And if COVID-19 has its way, it might be two.
Virginia Tech’s 2020 season has hit the final stretch. The Hokies will likely get a bowl invite if bowl games are played this winter, but all Tech can count on are the three remaining ACC games on their schedule.
So instead of reviewing the entire conference, let’s take a look at the three teams left on Tech’s slate.
Pitt’s rebound threatened by COVID-19
It’s been a frustrating season for Pittsburgh. Their stellar defensive line has been virtually wasted by an anemic offense and an inconsistent secondary. The Panthers have played in a bunch of close games, but they also lost to Notre Dame by 42.
Pitt’s win over Florida State on Nov. 7 is hard to gauge — did the Panthers find something on the offensive side of the ball, or is Florida State that bad? You could make an argument either way.
The Panthers’ strength is clearly their defensive front, which has generated the most productive pass rush of any team in the country — the Panthers lead the FBS in sacks (38) and tackles for loss (93). Oddly enough, the Hokies are tied for second and eighth in each of those, respectively.
Kenny Pickett may decide the outcome of this game. He’s a mobile playmaker who has missed a couple of games this season due to injury. Pickett’s return came against Florida State, when he completed almost 78 percent of his throws and scored a rushing touchdown.
This game may not happen. The Panthers were forced to postpone their contest vs. Georgia Tech this past weekend after an outbreak of COVID-19 within the program. Pitt paused all football activities on Nov. 12 and just resumed practice on Tuesday.
I’m not sure if the Panthers will be ready for their game against Virginia Tech, but this is worth monitoring. And with both Pitt and Virginia Tech already slated to play on Dec. 12, I’m not sure when the game could be made up.
War Machine Clemson is Coming
Clemson lost their first regular season game since the Ronald Reagan administration a couple of weeks ago and they’ve had a long bye week to think about it.
If you don’t think Clemson is about to steamroll every opponent in front of them, you are sadly mistaken. Dabo Swinney is going to dare the College Football Playoff committee to leave them out of the top-four by nuking the remaining teams on their schedule.
Clemson plays Florida State and Pittsburgh before traveling to Blacksburg. Trevor Lawrence is back, though his absence wasn’t what befell Clemson in their loss to Notre Dame. The Tigers’ defense has plenty of time to get right before they play the Hokies, who own the best offense left on Clemson’s schedule.
This represents another challenge for Virginia Tech’s offensive line. The Tigers’ defense is tied for second in sacks (with Virginia Tech) and third in tackles for loss, most of which come from the front four. Stud tackle Bryan Bresee should be healthy by then, but the Tigers have plenty of other options.
Virginia Close to .500
Don’t look now, but the ‘Hoos are hot.
Virginia has won two straight — a three-point win upset over North Carolina and a 31-17 win over a decimated Louisville. The Cardinals were without both of their top offensive weapons, Javian Hawkins and Tutu Atwell.
To Virginia’s credit, wins are wins. Brennan Armstrong has been better since returning from a concussion earlier in the season, throwing six touchdowns to just two interceptions in his last three games. Add what he’s done on the ground — 217 yards and three touchdowns — and the ‘Hoos are once again becoming a one-man band.
Virginia plays three more games before their showdown with the Hokies — a cakewalk vs. Abilene Christian, a winnable road game vs. Florida State and a tough contest vs. Boston College. We’ve got plenty of time to learn more about Virginia before the clash for the Commonwealth Cup takes place.