It's never too early to start looking ahead to next season in college football. Spring practice is still several weeks away and many positions are up-for-grabs at schools across the nation.
The Virginia Tech Hokies are coming off their worst season in 20 years, but fortunately for the Hokies, the majority of last year's excellent defense returns in 2013. Senior quarterback Logan Thomas also returns and his play will be a big factor in how the Hokies fare next season.
The Hokies' overall schedule doesn't appear to difficult outside of the season opener against defending national champion Alabama. The Hokies avoid having to play Florida State and Clemson, generally the two best schools on an annual basis in the ACC along with the Hokies.
It may be way early, but here is a look at all 12 games for 2013.
The Hokies are probably facing the Crimson Tide at a good time considering all the defections to the NFL. Obviously, no time is a good time to play Alabama, but it will be the first game of the season and the Tide will have several new starters.
The Hokies' defense will keep them in this one and they will put forth a valiant effort, but it will not be enough. Look for the Crimson Tide to pull away late in the fourth quarter despite a stellar showing by the Hokies.
Alabama 27, Virginia Tech 17
The Catamounts were 1-10 in 2012 and interestingly enough their season finale was a 49-0 loss at Alabama.
Expect the Hokies to put up a similar performance in getting their first win of the season.
Virginia Tech 42, Western Carolina 7
The Pirates are generally a strong program and have given the Hokies difficulty in recent years. While the Hokies have won the last three meetings and nine of the previous 10, the Pirates did defeat the Hokies in 2008.
Being at home, the Pirates will present a tough challenge for the Hokies and will keep the game close until midway through the third quarter when the Hokies' outstanding defense will force a turnover to put the Hokies in excellent field position. Logan Thomas will capitalize and help the Hokies pull away.
Virginia Tech 24, East Carolina 10
A pair of high school teammates, quarterback Rakeem Cato and wide receiver Tommy Shuler, were terrific in 2012 for the Thundering Herd. Both rising juniors, Cato averaged 350 yards passing per game while Shuler finished with 110 receptions for 1,138 yards.
The Hokies' secondary will be put to the test against Marshall's up-tempo passing game, forcing the offense to have to respond. The Herd actually faced the Hokies' Week 3 opponent, East Carolina, in their season finale in 2012, winning in double overtime 65-59.
Logan Thomas will have a field day passing the ball and the Hokies will have a strong ground game. The Hokies will put this game away early in the third quarter but Marshall will not be an easy opponent.
Virginia Tech 45, Marshall 21
Currently, the first four games of the year are the only ones where the date is set. We will now just look at the final eight games in no particular order.
The Blue Devils were an impressive 6-7 in 2012. Yes, 6-7 is impressive for the Blue Devils. Head coach David Cutcliffe has done a terrific job in turning the football program into a solid one in recent seasons.
The Blue Devils jumped on the Hokies early in 2012, getting out to a 20-0 lead before the Hokies scored 41 unanswered points to rout the Blue Devils.
2013 will be much the same despite a strong effort early from Duke
Virginia Tech 38, Duke 17
After struggling mightily in the post-Matt Ryan era, the Eagles will be looking to new head coach Steve Addazio to reverse their fortunes.
Addazio comes to Boston College from Temple, where he was 13-11 in two years as a head coach. He worked under Urban Meyer for years and will bring a new energy to the Eagles.
The Eagles and the Hokies have had a longstanding rivalry dating back to their days in the Big East. It has been more one-sided for the Hokies in recent years and it will be much the same in 2013. The Eagles will play hard but currently don't have the talent to match up with the Hokies.
Virginia Tech 20, Boston College 13
Outside of the Alabama game, this will be the Hokies' toughest test to date. The Hokies would like to forget their 2012 game against the Tar Heels where they allowed 533 total yards, 339 of those on the ground. The Heels won the game 48-34.
North Carolina will be without star tailback Gio Bernard who defected to the NFL. Bernard ran for 262 yards against the Hokies. The Heels do return senior quarterback Bryn Renner.
Logan Thomas passed for 354 yards against North Carolina in 2012 in what was arguably his best game.
North Carolina's spread offense gave defensive coordinator Bud Foster fits last year, but expect the defense to be better prepared this time around.
Expect this game to be close and high-scoring. Bernard's absence will affect the Tar Heels as he was the team's biggest playmaker in 2012. This game will still go down to the wire with the Hokies winning a close one. The Hokies being at home will give them the slight edge.
Virginia Tech 34, North Carolina 31
While most presume Virginia to the Hokies' biggest rival, many fans would argue they despise Miami just as much. Like Boston College, the Hurricanes have been rivals with the Hokies since their days in the Big East. Generally, both teams would be competing for the Big East title on any given year.
The Hokies have dominated the rivalry in the past decade, winning seven of the past 10 meetings. The Hurricanes defeated the Hokies 30-12 last season in a mistake-filled game in which the Hokies outplayed Miami for a good portion of the contest.
Sophomore running back Duke Johnson returns for Miami and he looks like an early contender for ACC Player of the Year in 2013.
This game will be close, but expect an improved Miami defense to hold Thomas and the offense in check when it matters the most.
Miami 23, Virginia Tech 17
Also former Big East rivals, Pittsburgh will now be in the ACC to face the Hokies on an annual basis.
The Panthers surprisingly dominated the Hokies in 2012 behind a strong offensive performance. Fortunately for the Hokies, the Panthers graduated several of the performers who hurt them the most. However, sophomore running back Rushel Shell returns and looks the part of a future star.
Pitt head coach Paul Chryst has the Panthers headed in the right direction. But the Hokies remember how thoroughly they were beaten by the Panthers in 2012 and have revenge on their minds. This game will also be played in Lane Stadium.
Virginia Tech 28, Pittsburgh 14
The Hokies and Yellow Jackets always play one another tough. The 2012 season opener was much of the same with the Hokies getting an overtime win.
Georgia Tech's option offense has given the Hokies trouble in the past but Bud Foster's defense seemed to defend it well in 2012.
This game may truly be considered a toss-up, especially with the game being played in Atlanta. Much like every time these teams play, it will be close.
Georgia Tech has an underrated defense and look for them to play well in this contest. If this game is played later in the season, when the Hokies have an opportunity to gain some offensive continuity, they will win this game.
Virginia Tech 23, Georgia Tech 21
These teams have only played four times since the Hokies entered the ACC in 2004, with the Hokies winning all four by double digits.
Maryland has been a mess under third-year coach Randy Edsall, but there is reason for optimism in College Park. Sophomore receiver Stefon Diggs is one of the more exciting players in the country, and if the Terrapins can get solid play from the quarterback position they will be tough to play against.
Playing in College Park will not be much of a home-field advantage for Maryland as many Hokie fans will make the trip. The Terrapins will hang with the Hokies early but expect a strong performance by the Virginia Tech defense in the second half to seal the victory.
Virginia Tech 31, Maryland 13
The Cavaliers have struggled mightily against the Hokies the past 15 years. Their last win in the series came in 2003.
The Cavs finished the 2012 season at 4-8 after getting to a bowl the season before. This is a big year for head coach Mike London and another loss to their in-state rival could impact his job status for 2014.
Virginia will have stability at the quarterback position with junior Phillip Sims expected to be the team's starter in 2013. Sims split time with 2011 starter Michael Rocco, which led to Rocco transferring.
This game will be close throughout. The Cavaliers will be strong enough on defense to make it tough for the Hokies.
Considering the dominance by the Hokies in this rivalry, it would be tough to pick against them.
Virginia Tech 27, Virginia 17
In going through a game-by-game analysis, we have the Hokies at 10-2 and 7-1 in the ACC.
That may or may not be on the optimistic side, but the Hokies will field a terrific defense in 2013. It will keep them in games while the offense comes together.
There are several games that could go either way in 2013 but the defense will be strong enough to make a difference in the end.
The Hokies didn't struggle in 2012 because they lacked talent. Poor coaching and inexperience on offense played a major role in the Hokies' struggles.
The 2013 Hokies could be anywhere from a 7-5 team to one that finishes 11-1 in the regular season.