Running the Gauntlet: Could This Year Be the Hokies' Title Year

Jacob FlinchumCorrespondent IApril 7, 2009

NEW ORLEANS - JANUARY 07:  The Coaches' Trophy is displayed before the Ohio State Buckeyes take on the Louisiana State University Tigers in the AllState BCS National Championship on January 7, 2008 at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

With the 2009 season approaching, Hokies fans are missing something they are used to hearing year after year. Strength of schedule. A year without the jeers about how the Hokies don't deserve to be elite because they don't play anyone.

It's okay for Ohio State and other perennial powerhouses to do it, but God help us if Tech puts a less than average opponent on the course.

Apparently our less than popular athletic director, Jim Weaver, gave us a challenge. Our schedule is loaded with difficulty. Nine of our twelve opponents went to a bowl last season. So now it's put up or shut up.

My question is, can Tech win it all?

With returners like Tebow and Bradford going back to their respective schools I can't guarantee a title, but if we can pull off an undefeated year the Hokies should at least play for it.

With Alabama up first we have a test of the powerful SEC, and it's not at home. Good thing is, Alabama is missing their QB Wilson, RB Coffee, and they have a pretty new offensive line. If our defense can step up, we have a solid chance at the upset.

Next up is Marshall at home, so if we don't get caught looking ahead we should be fine.

Nebraska comes to Lane next still sore from a rare non-conference loss at their house last year. No doubt they will be looking to exact revenge on the hokies, but it is hard to come away fro Lane with a win. Great coach in Bo Pelini but Nebraska comes up short.

As if the schedule isn't already tough enough, we have Miami coming to town. We already don't like these guys, and we are still disgusted with the offensive play calling at the end last years loss. This one should go maroon and orange.

We then travel to Durham to visit Lane Stadium South to play the Blue Devils. Yes, they beat UVA by 28 last year, but come on this is Duke. Another Hokies win.

Back home to play Boston College, which tech hasn't beat in the regular season in three years. This one could be dangerous. I think Tech has the team to win, but this is one I'm worried about.

Back to Atlanta to take on the Ramblin Wreck. Great team and great coach in Paul Johnson, but the option wont last long in the ACC. This league is just too tough if you don't have a diverse offense.

Back to back Thursday night games are next at home against UNC and at East Carolina. UNC has had a phenomenal turn around the past few years with the guidance of Butch Davis, but the hokies love Thursday Night ESPN. I think this will be a great game.

As for the Pirates of ECU, we have this night circled to make up for embarrassment last season.

We close out the season with Maryland, NC State, and Virginia. All three teams are on the rise and show some talent, but are not quite where they need to be. Don't get me wrong these teams might be a surprise, but will have a lot to overcome to win.

Overall with the number of returners coming back, the hokies have a great shot to have an undefeated season. They have an opportunity to match up well with every team they will play. It's not a guarantee, but if Virginia Tech wants to fill that empty case with the trophy that eluded them in 1999, this is the year they will have a chance.