By: Joey Raymond
All Photo Credit: Nate Gue-LMS Network
Thursday Night in the Burg
After a long bye week for both Syracuse and Virginia Tech, both teams are set to clash in Lane Stadium for the first time since 2021. Oddly enough, there’s no theme for the traditional Thursday night game in Blacksburg, but that won’t stop Hokies fans from being loud and rowdy. Both of these squads are coming into this game with something to prove. Syracuse needs to get a massive conference win, after losing three straight. The Hokies need to keep up the momentum and snag another conference win, after winning the last 2 conference games. The teams have played each other a total of 19 times, with Syracuse holding the edge in the series 11-8.
Before the Bye Week
Virginia Tech comes into this game with a massive win against Wake Forest, winning 30-13. After a rough week against Florida State, the Hokies desperately needed a comeback win. They didn’t just get that, they got a statement win. The Hokies dominated in all phases of the game against Wake. The offense was incredible, really playing a consistent game for the first time all season. Kyron Drones was electric. He threw for 321 yards, going 20 for 29 on his passes, and carried the ball 15 times for 59 yards. The defense also really stepped up big in this one as Wake Forest struggled on the ground, only getting 35 total yards of offense in the ground game. Overall, the Hokies and their fans have a lot to be happy about in this one.
On the other side of the field, we see the Syracuse Orange. A team coming into this one with three straight losses, but against probably the three best teams in the ACC. North Carolina, Florida State, and Notre Dame. (Notre Dame may not be in the ACC in an official capacity, but they play an ACC schedule) None of these matchups were competitive however as they lost by 3 scores or more in every single one of those matchups. The last of those matchups was against Florida State. Syracuse looked lost in the game, not even gathering a touchdown in the game. Quarterback Garrett Shrader went 9-21 and threw for 99 yards. They struggled to get anything going. Florida State would go on to win 40-3.
What To Watch For
The biggest thing to watch for if you’re the Hokies is going to be the running game of Syracuse. They were able to manage 110 yards against a very stout Florida State defense. LeQuint Allen is the real deal in terms of running backs and could prove to be a massive problem. However, the Hokies have a lot to be hopeful about coming off a matchup where they only gave up a total of 35 yards on the ground. Wake Forest this season had been pretty good on the ground and hit a brick wall in that Hokies defense, who put up the best performance they have all season.
On the Syracuse side of things, the biggest threat they have to watch out for is the scorching hot Kyron Drones. Ever since the Pitt game, Kyron Drones has been on an absolute tear. Shredding defenses on both the ground and in the air truly creates a dual threat for defenses to prepare for. Syracuse is no different. If they can contain Kyron Drones, they’ll be in a good position to win the game. My recommendation would be to try to put pressure on him early and often. Drones are still young and are still prone to make mistakes. He has fumbled the ball in every single game he has started, and though they haven’t always turned into turnovers, it’s still a concern.
Strictly speaking, it would be extremely hard for me to discredit the difficulty of the Orange schedule coming into this game. They truly have played a rough schedule that anyone in the ACC would have issues with. My concern about the Orange is the fact that in none of these games was the Orange competitive. Every single one of those games the Orange got blown out. However, on the Hokies’ side of the ball, they also have struggled in their own right. The difference in my opinion is that the Hokies have more momentum. It’s not unlikely that Syracuse comes into Lane on Thursday and pulls out a win. After all, Dino Babers is a great coach, and Syracuse is normally competitive. Not only that but Syracuse is coming into this game as early favorites. The Hokies offense in the last three games in comparison to the Syracuse offense in the last three games is a stark difference though. I have to go with the team that’s hot right now though. The Hokies have proven to be the better team in the last three, even to the point of being more competitive against Florida State. They both lost, but the Hokies at least hung in there until the fourth quarter. I have the Hokies winning a tough-fought, close matchup in Blacksburg.