Twenty-four days of the hype for the Military Bowl between Virginia Tech and Tulane is nearly done and it's time to settle things on the field. The Green Wave come into the game at 11-2 after losing to SMU, 26-14, in the AAC Championship Game on Dec. 2. Since that loss, they have lost their head coach and they have had several players opt out of the game, including their quarterback and top wide receiver. On the flip side, the Hokies enter the game at 6-6, winning five of their last eight games to become bowl-eligible, and closed out the regular season with a dominating 55-17 win over in-state rival Virginia in Charlottesville.
Winning this game with put a bow on what has been a tremendous month of December for Virginia Tech head coach Brent Pry and his staff. In the last couple of weeks, he has got commitments from several key players who announced they are returning in 2024, as well as four transfers out of the portal and a promising recruiting class signed last Wednesday.
As kickoff is nearly here, here are three bold predictions for the Military Bowl in Annapolis, Maryland Wednesday.
1. Virginia Tech scores over 37 points
Recently, I picked the Hokies to win, 38-20, in my preview. It might have raised some eyebrows that I had them put up 38 points on what is a good Tulane defense, regardless of who might or might not be playing. The Hokies offense has been clicking for the last two months of the season and dropped 55 on Virginia. I know, the Green Wave is not the Cavaliers, but still, the Hokies offense is playing with Mojo, and expect them to put up some points.
2. Virginia Tech records six-plus sacks
Since ACC play began, Virginia Tech's defense has been relentless on opposing quarterbacks. Antwaun Powell-Ryland led them with 9.5 sacks and he has plenty of motivation to collect at least half a sack to get to 10 on the season. Against SMU, Tulane allowed seven sacks to the Mustangs, and with their starting QB out and some of their skill players out, this could be a big afternoon for the Hokies' defense. Expect a lot of pressure early and often from Chris Marve's unit.
3. Virginia Tech rushes for more yards than Tulane
Tulane enters the game with a stout run defense that has been good all season long. It took some time for Virginia Tech to commit to the run this season, but once they did with running back Bhayshul Tuten and quarterback Kyron Drones, the results speak for themselves. Once the running game turned around, that opened up the playbook for offensive coordinator Tyler Bowen and once Drone settled in throwing the ball, the running game opened it up. Expect the Hokies to try and establish the run and have success.
Winning would be huge for Virginia Tech going into 2024 and you have to wonder how motivated Tulane will be after losing to SMU in the AAC title game, losing out on a possible New Year's Bowl opportunity, and losing their head coach and key players to opt-outs. It could motivate them as well and we'll find out soon enough which it is.