Virginia Tech had one of the more impressive streaks in all of college football until last year. The Hokies had eight straight 10-win seasons and 11 seasons of 10 or more wins in the last 15 years. So, predicting the Hokies to have a win total of 10 or more should be safe, right?
Not so fast, folks.
The 2012 season was a disaster for Virginia Tech fans. Going 7-6 is unacceptable in Blacksburg. Not only did the Hokies just win seven games in 2012, they were 4-6 at one point and a late-season rally preserved head coach Frank Beamer's streak of going to 20 consecutive bowl games.
In April, we predicted each game in the upcoming 2013 season and had the Hokies finishing at 9-3. Not a bad record, and it did not take into account what they would do in their inevitable bowl game.
If we are to go by that prediction, the Hokies have a very good chance of starting a new streak in 2013.
Virginia Tech opens the 2013 season on August 31 against defending national champion Alabama. It will actually be the second time in five years the two schools meet on opening weekend in Atlanta. In 2009, the Hokies proved to be one of the tougher opponents on the Tide's schedule. While Alabama did win the game, it took a strong fourth quarter for them to pull away.
The Crimson Tide won the game 34-24 and it would be the first national championship in Nick Saban's current tenure.
Can the Hokies actually pull off the upset this time?
There are many reasons for Hokie fans to be optimistic. Bud Foster will again field a top-10 defense. Nine starters return from last season's unit which ranked No. 18 in the nation. The Tide on the other hand will have to replace several starters from last season's championship team.
However, replacing departed stars is something Alabama is very accustomed to.
The Hokies won't win this game, but they will make it interesting, much like 2009.
Beamer hopes new offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler and senior quarterback Logan Thomas bring life to a Hokie offense that was, well, bad in 2012. It all begins with a strong ground attack. If the Hokies are able to run the ball, they will be in every game.
Outside of the Alabama game, the Hokies have a fairly easy schedule. Fortunately, Clemson and Florida State will only appear if the team makes it to the ACC championship game.
Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Miami represent Virginia Tech's strongest opponents. Each game should be considered a toss-up. Something to keep in mind: of those three opponents, only North Carolina will be a home game for the Hokies.
Will the Hokies win more than nine games in 2013?
Pittsburgh will be in their first year in the ACC. The Panthers thoroughly dominated the Hokies last September in Pittsburgh. Will we see a repeat performance? Not likely, several of the players who gave the Hokies fits in the game are no longer on Pitt's roster. And the game is in Blacksburg. Also, expect Foster to remind his defense of their abysmal performance that day. The Hokies gave up over 500 yards of total offense. It will not happen again.
Just like in April, our over/under for the Hokies' win total in 2013 stands at nine. Without knowing how Loeffler's new offense will perform, it is really tough to predict the Hokies winning more than that. So, at this point, we will use the nine wins predicted in April's column as the barometer and say under. This team, right now, looks more like an 8-5 squad rather than a 10 or 11 win juggernaut.
The 2013 season depends on Thomas. If he plays like he did in 2011, the Hokies will play in another ACC title game. If he doesn't, say hello to 2012.