The Virginia Tech defense was locked in Thursday night in Atlanta, leading the way to a 17-10 victory against Georgia Tech. Logan Thomas completed 19-of-25 passes for 221 yards and a touchdown and he ran for one more to give the offense enough points for a win in a tough, defensive match-up. Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech combined for 549 yards of offense with a fairly even split.
Sitting on their own 33-yard line, down seven with more than half a quarter to play, Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson decided to take a chance and failed miserably. Virginia Tech defensive tackle Derrick Hopkins stuffed Georgia Tech running back David Sims two yards shy of the first down, forcing a turnover on downs and setting up the Hokies for a potentially lethal strike. Amazingly, Virginia Tech failed to take advantage when kicker Cody Journell‘s field goal attempt from sailed wide left from 25 yards out. Georgia Tech survived, with the score holding at 17-10.
Still with plenty of time, Georgia Tech attempted to pass their way to a first down but three straight incomplete passes from Vad Lee forced Georgia Tech to punt it away. The defense forced the Hokies to punt but Virginia Tech pinned the home team back on their five-yard line with about three and a half minutes to play.
This game was expected to be a low-scoring game lacking offensive highlights, and it delivered. This game was all about the defenses, and specifically the defense of Virginia Tech. This is the same defense who held Alabama to the second lowest offensive total since Nick Saban took over as head coach, and this defense has continued to dominate the opposition and give the offense a chance to win. Virginia Tech has now held East Carolina to ten points on the road, Marshall’s Rakeem Cato to just 228 passing yards and now has a hard-fought road win at Georgia Tech. Virginia Tech’s success this season will be determined by the play of the defense, because the offense still lacks any sense of a killer instinct.
Virginia Tech now gets three straight home games in ACC Coastal play with North Carolina, Pitt and Duke coming up. This looks like a terrific opportunity to get a firm grip of the division before a game with Miami late in the year. If they play defense the way they did Thursday night, that looks like a favorable.
We cannot rule out Georgia Tech from the conversation just yet, but they must be able to play a much cleaner game moving forward with a more challenging schedule than Virginia Tech. Georgia Tech’s next two games will be played at Miami and at BYU. The Yellow Jackets also have a road game at Clemson and a home game against Georgia before the end of the regular season. These are games Georgia Tech must avoid another nine-penalty performance.
On the same day they picked up a significant graduate transfer, Georgia has seen another player leave Kirby Smart‘s football program.
As all of the cool transfers are doing these days, Jaleel Laguins took to his personal Twitter account to confirm that, “[a]fter careful consideration with coaches and family, I’d like to announce that I will be transferring from The University of Georgia.” “Athens will always be a special place for me, but now it’s time to start a new journey,” the linebacker added.
A four-star member of the Bulldogs’ 2016 recruiting class, Laguins was rated as the No. 10 inside linebacker in the country and the No. 21 player at any position in the state of Georgia. He was the top-rated linebacker in UGA’s class that year, and only three signees on the defensive side of the ball — defensive tackles Julian Rochester and Michail Carter, and defensive end Chauncey Manac — were rated higher.
As a true freshman, Laguins played in six games. He took a redshirt for this past season, and would have to sit out the 2018 season if he moved on to another FBS program.
Laguins was the second Georgia player to transfer this week. Tuesday, Pat Allen, a four-star 2015 offensive lineman, announced on his private Twitter account that he too was moving on from the Bulldogs. Allen began the 2017 season as UGA’s starting left guard but lost it heading into Week 2 and never regained it.
While one football series between an ACC and Big Ten team may be hard to come by, North Carolina and Minnesota have put together a future home-and-home scheduling agreement to look forward to. The Tar Heels and Gophers will meet for the first time on the football field in 2023 and follow up with a second game in 2024, the schools announced on Wednesday.
North Carolina will host Minnesota on Sept. 16, 2023. The two schools will then open the 2024 season at Minnesota, either on August 31, 2024 or for a Thursday opener on August 29, 2024.
The ACC and Big Ten each require their members to play one game against another power conference opponent each season. North Carolina already satisfied that requirement in 2024 with a season-opener against South Carolina scheduled to be played in Charlotte, NC, but the 2024 game fulfills the power conference scheduling requirement for the Tar Heels. The home-and-home series will also satisfy Minnesota’s obligation to the Big Ten scheduling policy for both seasons (Minnesota is getting an exemption for 2018 and 2019 due to previous scheduling arrangements being in place prior to the Big Ten’s stance on strength of schedule in non-conference play.
Ever since the in-state rivalry between Penn State and Pitt came to a temporary end in 2001, it has been a struggle to get the two schools back on the field for any stretch of time. With the third in a four-game series upcoming this fall, Pitt is hoping to find a way to continue playing the Nittany Lions on future schedules, but the offer is now apparently in Penn State’s hands awaiting a response.
Pitt athletic director Heather Lyke told reporters Wednesday she has proposed a four-year series beginning in 2026 to her Penn State counterpart, Sandy Barbour, but Penn State has not responded to the offer.
“We’re going to wait a tad more patiently, but not much,” Lyke said, according to Trib Live. “We can’t. We have people who want to play us and good opportunities to play what would be a very attractive game.”
The four-game series currently ongoing between the Panthers and Nittany Lions comes to a close after their meeting in the 2019 season in Happy Valley. According to FBSchedules.com, Penn State will not have another opening for a non-conference game until 2021. That is also the first season Pitt will have scheduling availability for non-conference matchups. Both schools already have power conference opponents lined up through 2025 as well, perhaps eliminating the desire to add another power conference opponent to the schedule.
Both Penn State and Pitt have scheduling requirements for non-conference play from the Big Ten and ACC, respectively, to include at least one game against another power conference opponent. It seems like a natural solution for Penn State and Pitt to agree to a long-term scheduling commitment to satisfy their respective conferences’ scheduling requirements, but the old issue has always come down to the financial incentive of a game. With Penn State playing in a larger stadium, it would be losing out on potential revenue that could be gained by an extra home game when possible. And playing road games at Pittsburgh only helps another program in the state by filling the seats more than any other home game on Pitt’s schedules in just about any season (Notre Dame and West Virginia would be other candidates to help Pitt fill Heinz Field).
It took so long just to get the two schools together for a two-year series, which was later expanded to a four-year arrangement. Don’t count on this in-state rivalry being renewed for quite some time after the 2019 season.
Quarterback Blake Barnett is now on the graduate transfer market. According to Bruce Feldman of Sports Illustrated, via Twitter, Barnett will find a new program to wrap up his college football career as a graduate transfer. South Florida is reportedly set to get an official visit from the former Sun Devils and Alabama quarterback.
Barnett started his football career at Alabama, where he sat out the 2015 season as a freshman. During his redshirt freshman in 2016, Barnett appeared in just three games as Jalen Hurts rose to become Alabama’s starting quarterback that would lead the Tide for the next two seasons (until halftime of last season’s national championship game). Barnett transferred to Arizona State, leaving behind a seemingly tumultuous relationship with Nick Saban, and played in just two games for the Sun Devils last fall, while Manny Wilkins established himself as the quarterback for former head coach Todd Graham.
A former four-star recruit out of high school, Barnett has played in just five games and completed 14 of 24 pass attempts for 259 yards and two touchdowns with an interception. Barnett’s latest transfer news comes a day after former UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen took a swipe at Barnett, who was ranked ahead of Rosen in various recruiting rankings out of high school.
“Blake Barnett was the Elite 11 MVP,” Rosen said, per SEC Country. “He was the dude that was going to go to ‘Bama, win a couple championships, call it quits and go to the league as the first overall pick. You don’t really hear about him too much.”
As a graduate transfer, Barnett will be eligible to play immediately this fall.