No. 16 Notre Dame is returning home after a disastrous loss at Michigan last week. After getting blasted by the Wolverines in a game played in a driving rain, the Irish will look to bounce back when they take on the latest ACC opponent to make the trip to South Bend, Indiana, in Virginia Tech.
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Talk of making the College Football Playoff was still relevant for Notre Dame heading into last week's top-billed showdown in the Big House, but the opportunity to notch a quality road win turned into a flood of overreactions that attempted to use the Michigan loss as an indictment of the Brian Kelly regime and his tenure in South Bend.
Look for Notre Dame to make a statement here against the Hokies, a team that will be gassed up for the opportunity but short on playmakers compared to recent Virginia Tech teams. Justin Fuente has endured a roller coaster of a season to remain in the ACC Coastal Division hunt -- more on that below -- but it's a big step up in competition for a team whose best Power Five wins are against North Carolina and Miami (FL).
Notre Dame: It's a get-right game for Notre Dame as a team, but it's even more important for quarterback Ian Book. Against Michigan, Book had one of his worst performances as a starter, completing just 8-of-25 passes for 74 yards. The stats should be analyzed with the context of a massive downpour during the first half of the game, but the Irish were not able to get anything going on offense even when the rain calmed. Book was pulled for backup Phil Jurkovec in the fourth quarter, but Kelly insists there is no quarterback controversy and the blame for the passing game failures is shared with the entire offense. That blame may be shared internally, but the talk is all going to fall on Book, who is 14-3 as a starter but in need of a prolific performance to re-establish some rhythm heading into the home stretch of the season.
Virginia Tech: Fuente said this year's Virginia Tech had to take a look in the mirror after a 45-10 home loss to Duke that had fans looking more like "Exit Sandman" in the early moments of the fourth quarter. The Hokies have run off three straight wins since that loss, including 40-point thrillers against Miami and North Carolina. Those division wins have Virginia Tech in a prime position to make a run at the ACC Coastal title, but the road is going to be challenging with Wake Forest, Pitt and Virginia all left on the schedule.
In that sense, Saturday's game against the Irish really is about how Virginia Tech responds to the challenge of facing this tough road test against an angry Notre Dame team. The remaining goals for this year's team are both big-picture as Fuente looks to solidify a hard-nosed culture, and focus on the ACC race and Virginia Tech's first return to the ACC Championship Game since 2015.
Date: Saturday, Nov. 2 | Time: 2:30 p.m. ET Location: Notre Dame Stadium -- South Bend, Indiana TV: NBC | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)