VT OL vs. Boise State DL - While VT has competent replacements with game experience; you can't dismiss unity within the OL when it comes to blocking schemes. And with running being VT's bread and butter, game one is going to be a tough task against an entire three-deep return on Boise State's DL, not to mention some new faces clawing and fighting for their time to shine. The cogs in the middle will be tough to control. With the unpredictability of the Boise State D, you never know what scheme they will be playing on the field but you can bet it will be built to stop the run. VT fans show great confidence in their OL replacements, but there has to be some kind of drop-off or they would have been starting last year from the get-go. For that reason alone I have to give the edge to the Boise State DL. The Boise State DL has been the forgotten soldiers around the nation and this is their time to shine on a national stage.
VT RB's vs. Boise State LB's - This advantage would go to the RB's as you can't dismiss the talent VT will bring to the game. If the line wasn't green on one side I'd be going into this game with little confidence in corralling Williams and company. The reason I believe the Bronco linebackers become a big key to stopping the vaunted VT running game all starts with the Boise State DL controlling the line of scrimmage. The linebackers will have gaps to shoot and Venable is amazing at not only reading the direction of the play, but at controlling and containing the edges. This is where the battle is really going to be a difference-maker.
VT WR's/TE's vs. Boise State DB's - This will be an interesting battle as I have to admit I know little about VT's wide outs, but do know that the TE's should be a non-factor. If the run game is struggling to consistently move the ball as they are accustomed, then it will be a long night for the Hokies. With Boise State's D scheme there is 100% confidence in leaving the CB's on an island, which will leave some interesting one-on-one battles. If the run game is successful for VT then they could likely win this battle and it will be a long night for Boise State with the DB's having to assist more in the run defense.
Overall, I give a slight edge to Boise State mainly because of experience. The VT offense is explosive but not unstoppable. As stated above, If the Bronco DL controls the line of scrimmage like I believe they should, it will be enough to allow the Boise State offense to outscore the Virginia Tech offense. I'm sure we'll see the bend but not break defense as the Hokies will get their yards but it will be a dog fight across the goal line.
Boise State OL vs. VT DL - With VT losing their main beasts on the DL it will be hard to replace that talent for the first couple games and more so then they will end up experimenting with their OL. So with this I find the edge going to the Broncos having highly experienced OL at every position as well as the two-deep. With the OL having worked together for a couple years now the run game should be successful enough to help the passing attack become wide open. It'll be a long night for VT if Boise State's running attack rips off successful runs pulling the LB's and safeties out of position.
Boise State RB's vs. VT LB's - With both units possessing good speed this is a fairly even battle. If the DL is able to get a push instead of being pushed it will allow the athletic VT LB's to make the plays needed. The real battle is going to whether the LB's are able to cover the Boise State TE's and if they are not found biting on play action. Boise State's O often pulls the LB's out of position but I'm sure the VT staff will have their young team prepared. But if on one play a LB is found out of position or reads the play incorrectly you can bet 100% of the time Bronco quarterback Kellen Moore will exploit the mistake.
Boise State WR's/TE's vs. VT DB's - This would normally be a great battle, but with the young DB group going against one of the most talented groups of WR/TE/QB combo's in the country it could be a long night for VT. It all comes down to the DL/LB's. If they are successful it will help the DB group tremendously. If either group struggles its going to put a lot of stress on the DB's to control the Bronco passing attack which is consistently among the nation's best. As stated above, any mistake will be exploited, and like a good poker game, it's the exploitable situations that typically determine the overall winner.
Once again, I'm giving the slight edge to Boise State because of experience. If the Bronco OL controls the line of scrimmage it's going to put pressure on the LB's and DB's. Against the Boise State offense, that is a struggle that the VT team does not want to have. I'm sure Virginia Tech will have the D ready to go, but it only takes a couple of mistakes for Kellen and company to capitalize, but then again the same could be said with flip/flopped situations.
Game prediction with a late fourth quarter score by Boise State:
Boise State 24