Inclement weather for football games often levels the playing field for both sides. Wet, rainy and cold conditions can often be an equalizer between two unevenly matched opponents.
But in these conditions, there was nothing even about Virginia Tech’s win over Pittsburgh on Saturday. In fact, the game was anything but equal. The Hokies owned Pittsburgh and pitched their second-straight shutout, winning 28-0.
Virginia Tech’s offense was far from perfect, but it didn’t matter. Bud Foster’s unit turned back the clock yet again, effectively ending the game in an 11-second sequence in the first quarter. After three pedestrian drives, the Hokies capped off a 90-yard drive that included an electric 71-yard throw-and-catch from Hendon Hooker to Tayvion Robinson. With a 7-0 lead, Rayshard Ashby sacked Kenny Pickett for a loss of 18 yards, forcing a fumble. Norell Pollard scooped it up and ran it in for a touchdown, putting Pittsburgh to sleep well before halftime.
The Panthers were indeed asleep for the rest of the game, especially on offense. Pittsburgh failed to create a drive lasting longer than six plays and were stopped on fourth down three times. Virginia Tech won the time of possession battle by almost 11 minutes. Pittsburgh earned just eight first downs.
Virginia Tech’s offense didn’t light up the scoreboard, but not many offenses would have in that weather. Instead, the Hokies took care of the football and took advantage of good field position. Tech truly ground Pittsburgh into submission. By the end of the game, the Panthers had clearly given up and couldn’t wait to get back to the locker room.
The Hokies’ win bolstered the notion that this edition of Virginia Tech football is “good”. The team has hit their full stride, just in time for a showdown with the hated ‘Hoos of Virginia.
A month ago, any reasonable person would have pegged the Cavaliers as the favorites in the 2019 Commonwealth Cup clash. Like Tech, Virginia is also 8-3 but losses to Miami and Louisville in October tainted the public’s view of the upstart Cavs. Virginia also won a narrow victory over lowly Georgia Tech just two weeks ago. The ‘Hoos are by no means a bad team, but they’ve lost a lot of their early luster.
Friday’s game is the final relevant test of the season for Virginia Tech. No fans should have any expectations for what lies ahead. All that matters now is what Virginia Tech does on Friday in Charlottesville. If the Hokies extend their streak over Virginia to 16 seasons and win the ACC Coastal, it will guarantee Virginia Tech a successful season that the coaches, players, administrators and fans can be proud of.
Virginia Tech has come a long way since Sept. 27 vs. Duke. The players have changed, the coaches have changed, all while staying the same. It’s time to finish the transformation.