2023 College Football Rankings: Virginia Tech Hokies

For the last few weeks, I’ve been illustrating which NFL teams most overachieved and underachieved relative to their preseason T Shoe Index power rating. We looked at key stats and potential reasons for the drastic change in performance – injuries, bad QB play, coaching changes, etc. Now, I will begin the same process for some college football teams that had surprising seasons, one way or another. This series will kick off with the Virginia Tech Hokies, a team that I bet their season win total under 5 a year ago and they made me pay for that. 

The Hokies finished the season 7-6, well above the 3 or 4 wins I had them projected for, and went a profitable 8-5 ATS, indicating oddsmakers were also having a hard time keeping up with the rise of Brent Pry’s team.


Above, you’ll see the Hokies’ TSI rating as it fluctuated throughout the season. VT started just 1-3, with losses to Rutgers, Marshall and Purdue, but then you can see the power rating really begin to linearly ascend from that point on. Why?

Virginia Tech Offense

QB Grant Wells began the season as the starter, and did not necessarily play poorly, throwing for over 500 yards and 5 touchdowns, but was injured in a week 2 loss to Purdue. The Wells injury opened the door for junior Kyron Drones to take over and once he established his rhythm under center, the Tech offense hit another level. Drones threw for over 2,000 yards and 17 touchdowns, leading the Hokies’ offense to finish 55th in TSI ratings – up from 118th in 2022 with Wells under center. 

Some key stats that were indicative of the Hokies’ climb were going from .270 points per play in 2022 to .438, resulting in an 11 points per game increase. The Drones-led offense also went from 4.4 yards per play in 2022 to 5.8 in 2023, which is a massive improvement.

Virginia Tech Defense

Defensively, we didn’t see a major improvement – 75th in TSI defensive ratings each of the last two years – especially relative to the offensive ascent, but there were some key statistical takeaways that indicate the defense is trending in the right direction. They did improve in defensive points per play from 14.7 to 13.3 last year, as well as improving from 5.3 yards per play to 4.9 in 2023. Modest, but encouraging improvement from the side of the ball that you’d expect will eventually click with defensive-minded Brent Pry at the helm.

Virginia Tech 2024 Outlook

Their 2024 win total currently sits at 7.5, with the over being juiced to -140. Clearly, oddsmakers expect another step forward for the Hokies, and I don’t blame them. TSI is very high on them coming into 2024, with a lofty 9.1 power rating, 36th in CFB and 6th in the ACC. Spoiler alert: I haven’t dropped my TSI win total projections yet, but Virginia Tech is currently projected for 8.9 wins (subject to change before August).

With a very positive trendline for the Hokies, TSI’s strong rating and subsequent win total projection, I would bet Over 7.5 wins for Virginia Tech, even at the -140 odds.