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Virginia (5-6) at Virginia Tech (7-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 29th, 12:00 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Lane Stadium/Worsham Field (66,233) -- Blacksburg, Virginia. Television: ESPN. Home Record: UVA 4-3, VaTech 5-0. Away Record: UVA 1-3, VaTech 2-3. Neutral Record: UVA 0-0, VaTech 0-1. Conference Record: UVA 3-4, VaTech 4-3. Series Record: Virginia Tech leads, 47-37-5.
GAME NOTES: The Virginia Tech Hokies have their eyes on an ACC title shot, as they host the rival Virginia Cavaliers in the regular-season finale at Lane Stadium. With a win this weekend, Virginia Tech would clinch the ACC Coastal Division crown and lock up a berth in the ACC Championship game in Tampa, Florida next weekend. The Hokies put themselves in this position with a 14-3 win over Duke last weekend. The team had struggled prior to that hard-fought victory, with losses in three of its previous four games. As for the Cavaliers, they've fallen on hard times since a season-long four-game win streak through the month of October. So far in November, UVA has lost three straight, including last weekend's 13-3 setback at the hands of Clemson. The Cavs have won just one road game this season. Virginia Tech holds a 47-37-5 edge in this rivalry, which includes wins in four straight meetings with UVA. Since 1996, the winner of the annual matchup retains possession of the Commonwealth Cup
The Cavalier offense has gone stagnant over the last few weeks. Against Clemson, UVA managed just 190 yards of total offense. Marc Verica had a rough day under center, throwing for 160 yards and three interceptions. During his weekly press conference, head coach Al Groh said Verica has ben throwing into traffic far too often. Of course, he didn't have a whole lot of support from the running game, as tailback Cedric Peerman gained just 45 yards on 19 carries. UVA's first-quarter drives went punt, punt, interception, fumble. Put simply, the Cavs don't possess the type of offense that can overcome lots of turnovers. Case in point: they are 5-1 this season when they haven't lost the turnover battle.
The UVA defense ranks near the bottom of the ACC in both scoring defense (ninth) and total defense (eighth). But the Cavaliers did a respectable job against a formidable Clemson offense. The held the Tigers to a mere 13 first downs and 192 yards of total offense. Clemson's dangerous backfield tandem of James Davis and CJ Spiller was held to 83 yards on a combined 32 carries. Quarterback Cullen Harper managed just 121 yards passing. Vic Hall (fumble recovery) and Jon Copper led the Cavaliers with seven tackles apiece. Copper leads the team with 92 tackles on the season. But the guy who commands the most attention is senior linebacker Clint Sintim, who is tied for fourth in the nation with 11 sacks.
The Hokies turned the ball over on five of their first six possessions against Duke, as they continue to get inconsistent play from the quarterback position. Sophomore signal-caller Tyrod Taylor got the starting nod last week, but he was responsible for four of those turnovers (two fumbles, two interceptions). Needing to get something going, head coach Frank Beamer turned to Sean Glennon, who led the offense on a touchdown drive just before the half, and finished the game 12-of-20 for 132 yards, one TD and one INT. Glennon and Taylor have played musical chairs at QB this season, and Beamer has yet to commit to a starter for this week's game. One offensive player Beamer has been able to rely on is freshman tailback Darren Evans, who has tied a freshman school-record with nine rushing touchdowns and is within 74 yards of becoming the first freshman in school history to post a 1,000-yard rushing season.
The VaTech defense picked off Duke quarterback Zack Asack four time last week. They also held the Blue Devils to only six first downs and 136 total yards for the game. In addition, Duke converted just 1-of-12 third downs. Duke is by no means an offensive juggernaut, but those types of statistics are no fluke for a Tech defense that hasn't allowed more than 16 points in a game since October. The Hokies enter this game boasting the nation's eighth-ranked defense in terms of yards allowed (276.82 ypg), and there are playmakers all up and down this unit. Senior cornerback Victor "Macho" Harris has 15 career interceptions, which ranks third all-time at VaTech. Defensive ends Orion Martin (7.5 sacks) and Jason Worilds (6.0 sacks) know how to get after the quarterback, while linebacker Purnell Sturdivant has amassed a team-high 79 tackles.
This is the first time since 1997 that Virginia and Virginia Tech have met while the Hokies weren't ranked. But the Hokies are unbeaten at home this season, and they've got their eye on the prize: a shot at the ACC title.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Virginia Tech 20, Virginia 10
11/26 10:40:18 ET