One final game and then the opening weekend of the 2018 College Football Season will be in the books. We’ve learned a little bit this weekend: the SEC still wins with defensive line play — especially the Western titans. It’s not easy to replicate double-digit turnover margins in the plus column and recapture defensive success — Miami, among others, was a team that had feasted upon that most illusory and luck-bound of statistical anomalies. We learned in Orlando that, in this era of play-the-best-guy, underclassman / upperclassman may increasingly become a distinction with less relevance than ever before.
Tonight, the youngest team in the Power 5 tests that latter assertion. The Virginia Tech Hokies start just 5 upperclassmen. Justin Fuente is remaking VT into his image — a faster, more athletic and thoroughly modern team. That takes some time, to be sure. But in year three, with this many babies, is it fair to expect those recruiting fruits to bear results? Conventional wisdom would suggest no. But, as you saw with Alabama, Louisville, Ohio State, it may be fair to demand that your best players win-now despite their veteran status.
The Hokies face a team with the clear athletic edge, the omnipresent Florida State Seminoles. It’s also fair to say that FSU will have the best player on the field: sophomore running back Cam Akers, who is a joy to watch. A healthy DeAndre Francois’ return may be the difference in a game or two that tilts the Coastal division in their favor. But, it is Akers’ play that will determine whether the ‘Noles are a competitor in the first place. If Willie Taggart’s body of work at Oregon with Royce Freeman is any indication, Akers is going to feed. Willie Taggart, who has seemingly failed upward in his last two positions, no longer has any excuses: he has a Cadillac job, with perenial Top 10 recruiting classes in his back yard, in a division the ‘Noles should be dominating. A win tonight in the Stygian humidity of Tallahassee would go a long way towards showing he’s not just a place-keeper and that FSU is ready to compete again. This is a big opener for two clubs in transition. My head leans ‘Noles, but my heart wants me to pick the Hokies. I’ll go with my head.
Virginia Tech at Florida State (-7, O/U 55)
8:00 PM Eastern on ESPN / WatchESPN
Mia Khalifa stanning for Florida State is...
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Somewhat surprising — I mean, she went to UTEP
What’s a "Mia Khalifa"...and should I be scared to google this?