No team has a more difficult Week 1 challenge than Virginia Tech, which takes on Alabama in Atlanta to begin its season. That test may hint at whether or not we can expect the Hokies to return to ACC championship form or if another struggle like 2012's 7-6 campaign lies ahead.
2013 Virginia Tech schedule
Projections from Football Outsiders' 2013 college football almanac.
The difficult opener isn't anything new for the Hokies, who began the 2009 season with a game against Alabama and opened the following year against Boise State. The difference this time around lies in what the Hokies have to prove. Prior to last year's mediocre campaign, Virginia Tech hadn't won fewer than 10 games in a season since 2003; it hadn't been limited to seven wins or fewer since 1997.
Virginia Tech made changes to its coaching staff after the 2012 season, bringing in Scot Loeffler to replace longtime offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring. Virginia Tech hopes Loeffler will inject some life into an offense that was stagnant a season ago, but the Hokies aren't going to get back to the top of the division if quarterback Logan Thomas doesn't improve on his performance last year.
Thomas and the rest of the Hokies will have to be sharp early on, because the Hokies begin league play with a Thursday night contest at Georgia Tech and follow that with games against North Carolina and Pittsburgh. Those games figure to be pivotal factors in the Coastal Division race, as does Tech's road trip to Miami later on. The Yellow Jackets game comes under a harsh set of circumstances as well, because the Hokies will have to travel and play on short rest.
The other half of the Hokies' ACC schedule isn't daunting. They drew Boston College and Maryland -- who were a combined 6-18 last season -- out of the Atlantic, and they will be favored to beat Duke and Virginia as well. Take care of business there and they could be right back on track.