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Posted at 10:09 AM ET, 09/23/2011

Virginia Tech football vs. Marshall: Who do you think will win?

Virginia Tech will finish out what some of us in the media have started calling the “preseason schedule” when it travels to Huntington, W.Va., to take on Marshall on Saturday afternoon. Including the Thundering Herd, the Hokies’ nonconference opponents have a combined record of 4-7 this year, but only two of those wins have come over Football Bowl Subdivision schools.

So perhaps the Hokies’ biggest challenge will be not overlooking Marshall in anticipation of next week’s ACC opener against undefeated Clemson. The Thundering Herd, after all, is coming off a 44-7 defeat at Ohio, a game in which it committed six turnovers.

But with the news Thursday that wide receiver Jarrett Boykin won’t play due to a hamstring injury, the spotlight will shine on redshirt juniors Marcus Davis and D.J. Coles.

Davis has been Virginia Tech’s best deep threat through three games, averaging more than 22 yards per catch, and will likely move into the starting lineup with senior Danny Coale. But the 6-foot-4, 228-pound target has also dropped several passes, including what would have been touchdown receptions in the Hokies’ wins over Appalachian State and East Carolina.

Coles, meanwhile, is finally enjoying a healthy season after battling some injuries during his first two seasons on the active roster. He’s a big target (6-3, 228 pounds), and last week showed off his speed by taking an innocent-looking wide receiver screen 49 yards for a touchdown. This, though, will be his best chance yet to show the coaching staff he can contribute even after Boykin returns.

Quarterback Logan Thomas is coming off a career day against Arkansas State, but traveling to Marshall should be another test for him. He didn’t perform very well in his first road start at East Carolina.

Another person to keep an eye on is struggling punter Scott Demler. Coach Frank Beamer is showing faith in him, but with more important games looming in the not-so-distant future, the redshirt junior must have a consistent afternoon kicking the ball this weekend.

Once again I don’t expect Virginia Tech to be challenged on the scoreboard, especially with Marshall trotting out a true freshman quarterback. Defensive coordinator Bud Foster and his improved unit are surely licking their chops in advance of this one. In this beat writer’s opinion, the Hokies will enter October undefeated for the first time since 2005.

My prediction: Virginia Tech 31, Marshall 7

But how do you think the Hokies will do in their second road game of the year? Vote in the poll below, and give us your prediction in the comments section. And, if you aren’t going to the game or can’t watch on television since it’s exclusively being shown on CBS Sports Network, I’ll be tweeting (@hokiesjournal and @mgiannotto) throughout the afternoon.

By Mark Giannotto  |  10:09 AM ET, 09/23/2011

 
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