AP NEWS

No. 16 Irish seek home rebound against red-hot Virginia Tech

October 31, 2019

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Virginia Tech (5-2) at No. 16 Notre Dame (5-2), Saturday at 2:30 p.m. EDT (NBC)

Line: Notre Dame by 17 1/2.

Series record: 1-1.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

A second straight College Football Playoff appearance dashed by its 45-14 loss at Michigan last Saturday night, Notre Dame needs to win out and get plenty of help in the month of November if it is to earn a New Year’s Six bowl berth. Virginia Tech, coming off a bye following its 43-41 six-overtime victory against North Carolina, has won three straight games in its quest for a nation’s best 27th straight bowl berth.

KEY MATCHUP

Notre Dame offensive line versus Virginia Tech defense. After creating holes for a season-high 308 rushing yards against Southern California, the Irish line lost AP midseason All-America guard Tommy Kraemer with a sprained MCL and managed just 47 rushing yards (on 31 carries), 180 total yards and surrendered two quarterback sacks at Michigan. The Hokies have 25 sacks, one more than all of 2018, and 15 have come during their three-game winning streak against Miami (42-35), Rhode Island (34-17) and the Tar Heels.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Virginia Tech: Hendon Hooker, QB. The 6-foot-4, 208-pound redshirt sophomore has won his first three collegiate starts, completing 34 of 59 passes for 572 yards, seven touchdowns and zero interceptions and rushed 41 times for 160 yards and another touchdown.

Notre Dame: Cole Kmet, TE. The 6-foot-5 1/2, 250-pound junior has caught 23 passes for 290 yards and four touchdowns in the five games since he returned from a preseason broken collarbone that necessitated surgery and kept him out of the season’s first two games.

FACTS & FIGURES

Notre Dame has not lost two games in a row since its 4-8 season in 2016 ended with losses to Virginia Tech (34-31) and Southern California (45-27). ... Since then Notre Dame is 27-6 with all of the losses coming against AP Top 25 foes (Georgia twice, Miami, Stanford, Clemson, Michigan). ... The Irish have won 15 straight games at Notre Dame Stadium, their third longest streak since it opened in 1930, Knute Rockne’s final season as head coach. ... Notre Dame remains perfect at 24 (21 touchdowns, 3 field goals) in red-zone scoring opportunities while Virginia Tech is 28 of 29 with 21 TDs. ... The Hokies have 881 sacks in 24 seasons under defensive coordinator Bud Foster, who is retiring after this season. ... Virginia Tech has scored in 315 straight games, the fifth longest active streak behind leader Florida’s 392.

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