Blacksburg, VA - Virginia Tech's season didn't begin as the team had hoped in an elite non-conference matchup, but the 14th-ranked Hokies are planning on a better result against a softer opponent Saturday.
Coach Frank Beamer's team will try to rebound against Marshall as the Hokies try to win their 14th consecutive home opener in Blacksburg.
Oddsmakers from online sports book SBGGLOBAL have made Virginia Tech -19.5 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 71% of bets for this game have been placed on Virginia Tech -19.5 (View College Football bet percentages).
Quarterback Tyrod Taylor was among the players to struggle against then-No. 5 Alabama in Atlanta last Saturday, going 9 for 20 for 91 yards without a touchdown to begin his first full season as starter. The junior split time with Sean Glennon his first two years.
Taylor, who gained 884 yards on the ground last season, was held to 12 yards on five carries - not including sacks - in Virginia Tech's 34-24 loss, but Beamer expressed confidence that his Hokies (0-1) can eventually live up to their No. 7 preseason ranking.
"We can get there," Beamer said. "We're just a little bit too young right now, but we're going to be a little bit older next week."
The coach did see some positive signs from highly touted freshman running back Ryan Williams, who gained 71 yards on 13 carries and scored two touchdowns. He also had two receptions for 42 yards.
The Hokies' defense, however, had problems, allowing 498 total yards - 111 more than the worst effort from last year's team, which won the ACC championship and the Orange Bowl.
Most of their issues came against the run, with the Crimson Tide racking up 268 yards and two touchdowns on the ground at a clip of 5.5 yards per carry.
"We've got to move on now," senior linebacker Cody Grimm told Virginia Tech's official athletics Web site. "When two good teams play each other, one of them is going to lose and that's how it went down tonight. It was a real good game for a long time, but we ran out of gas at the end."
The Hokies hope they won't need a strong finish against Marshall, a team Virginia Tech has beaten soundly in the last two meetings. The Thundering Herd were ranked 16th when they lost 47-21 in Blacksburg in 2002, and they fell 41-14 there on Oct. 8, 2005.
Virginia Tech is 7-2 in the all-time series, with the most recent loss coming in 1940. The Hokies will also be looking for their ninth straight home win overall after going 8-0 in Blacksburg last year. They haven't dropped a home opener since losing to Boston College 20-14 in 1995.
"It is a great environment," Marshall coach Mark Snyder said. "It ranks right up there as one of the toughest places to play in the country."
Marshall (1-0) defeated Southern Illinois 31-28 in its opener last Saturday.
Junior quarterback Brian Anderson was impressive in the victory, completing 75 percent of his passes and throwing for a career-high 316 yards and three touchdowns with one interception. His favorite targets were wide receiver Charles Walker and tight end Cody Slate, who combined for 19 catches and each racked up more than 110 receiving yards.
The Herd's defense, however, allowed the Salukis to convert eight of 14 third-down opportunities. Snyder said that unit, which allowed 164.4 yards per game on the ground last year, will try to stop Williams and force Taylor to win the game through the air.
"We are going to have to stop the running game and make them throw it," Snyder said. "... (Williams) is as good as the hype. He's a good back. Against a good defense like Alabama, he played well. He didn't look like a freshman to me."
Marshall was 4-8 last year and has not beaten a ranked team since a 27-20 win at then-No. 6 Kansas State on Sept. 20, 2003, losing the last eight such contests.
Posted: 9/8/09 9:53PM ET