The start of the 2010 football season is less than two weeks away, and one of the most anticipated games in college football this season will make us wait until Labor Day before anything's decided on the field.
Virginia Tech and Boise State will meet at FedEx Field in the nation's capital, and the perennial underdog third-ranked Broncos are finally the favorite.
However, Virginia Tech will have something to say about that.
Here are five reasons the Hokies will beat Boise State on September 6th.
Whenever anyone talks about this game, you always hear that Boise State is returning 23 of 24 starters and that the Hokies are going to have an inexperienced defense.
As long as Bud Foster is the defensive coordinator at Virginia Tech, the defense has nothing to worry about.
Yes, they don't have a lot of experience playing together, but it's not like the Hokies are running true freshmen out onto the field and asking them to stop the Broncos offense.
Every probable starter on the Hokies defense has in-game experience. They've all played in big games, even though they weren't the guys on the field when the game began.
The Hokies had similar questions on defense coming into last season, and everyone points to how the defense was dominated by Alabama in the fourth quarter of last year's opener. Alabama dominated time of possession, a game in and of itself, which led the Hokies defense to give up big plays in that fourth quarter.
If you watched the game, you realize that wasn't so much the defense's fault. The Tech offense couldn't sustain a drive, and the defense never got off the field.
Yes, seven starters from last year's team are gone, but Foster has led a top-20 defense for six straight years.
If you're wondering the last time the Hokies lost the majority of their defensive starters, it was 2000, when Foster returned only three defensive starters from the previous year. The Hokies went 11-1.
At many programs the best players will come off the field when the special teams unit takes the field; that's not always the case in Blacksburg.
Guys want to play on special teams because "Beamer Ball" is one of the greatest traditions in Hokies football.
Cris Hill is competing for the starting cornerback spot for the Hokies, and in last Saturday's scrimmage he blocked two punts. Here's what Hill told Hokie Sports Insider Jimmy Robertson after the scrimmage:
“This is a good way for me to use my speed and use my quickness,” Hill said. “I really enjoy blocking kicks. It’s part of the tradition here, so I’m doing whatever I can to help out.
“Coach Beamer says this is the greatest [punt block] team of athletes ever assembled, so we take that mindset every day when we go out there. We’re trying to get more blocked kicks this year.”
That's a scary thought for opposing teams. The Hokies have always had great punt blocking units, so for Beamer to say this could be the best tells you what he thinks of his special teams this year.
Virginia Tech has opened the season at a neutral site the last two seasons. They're 0-2 in that span, which is nothing to boast about.
Last year, the Hokies lost to the eventual national champion Crimson Tide, and the year before they lost to East Carolina in Charlotte.
The Hokies came into both of those games with huge questions on offense. This year, that's not the case. The Hokies have more questions marks on their defense than anywhere else.
However, the Hokies offense has been their worst defense the last couple of years. Early last year, the Tech offense looked lost at times, and it had no real identity. In 2008, there was a quarterback controversy, and question marks as to who was going to carry the load on the ground.
Those questions are no more. The Hokies have an identity on offense, which will do nothing but help their defense.
The defense doesn't have to play great for the Hokies to have a chance at winning anymore. The Hokies finally have a team that the fans and coaching staff are confident will score points on offense.
The third neutral site opener in three years for Virginia Tech will be the charm. Boise State won't be able to consistently stop the offense, and they won't be able to score enough points against the defense.
Time of possession will be key in this one, and the Hokies have a pretty good rushing attack to give them the edge in that category. If defense wins championships, the Hokies would have multiple national titles by now. However, it's best for a defense to be supported by a good offense, and the Hokies finally have that on their side.
Tyrod Taylor is 23-5 as a starter at Virginia Tech. He's thrown for over 4,000 yards in his Tech career and rushed for 1,500 yards.
Taylor is coming off his best season as a starter. He passed for 2,300 yards and 13 touchdowns last season, with only five picks. Taylor was very efficient last year, ranking near the top in passer efficiency in the nation.
Taylor's passing numbers won't blow you off the field, but this will be the best unit he has ever played with, by far. Last year, he still had young wide receivers trying to learn the offense, but he did have Ryan Williams to rely on. This year, those wide receivers should be set to break out.
Dyrell Roberts, Jarrett Boykins, and Danny Coale are his top three returning wide receivers, and Williams and Darren Evans will only add to the success of the pass.
Taylor is now past the point of being the game manager. He's not the best athlete on the Tech offense, which is saying a lot, but he is the leader. Taylor has a chance to make history at Virginia Tech, and he's got a very good supporting cast around him, so I expect Taylor's numbers to be very impressive in 2010, starting against Boise State on Labor Day.
There's nothing I've looked forward to more in the upcoming 2010 season than Virginia Tech's running game.
Williams and Evans have the chance to be the best tandem in school history and potentially one of the best one-two punches college football has ever seen.
This will be the first year the two backs are sharing the backfield. Both have rushed for well over 1,000 yards in seasons where they received the bulk of the carries.
Williams will be the starter, and Evans will spell him when they're not on the field at the same time. How defenses plan on stopping this ground attack is the key to the Hokies' success. The problem for opposing defenses is choosing how to defend the Hokies offense—a welcome change in Blacksburg.
If you stack the box with eight defenders, the Hokies have a very capable aerial attack that could hurt you. I wouldn't want to have to draw up a defensive game plan for Virginia Tech.
Will both of the backs rush for 1,000 yards? That remains to be seen, but probably not. What's most important is the threat the two of them provide together.
The ground game is the No. 1 reason the Hokies will beat Boise State. Yes, the Broncos have experience on defense, but they don't have the personnel to consistently stop Virginia Tech's rushing attack.
Williams and Evans will led the Hokies to victory on September 6th and set the tone for the rest of their 2010 campaign.