(14) Virginia Tech (8-3) at Virginia (3-8)
Saturday, November 28th, 3:30 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Pat Taggart, Associate College Football Editor
GAME NOTES: The 14th-ranked Virginia Tech Hokies have gotten the better of state rival Virginia in recent years, and the two ACC squads will tangle this weekend in Charlottesville.
Virginia Tech has won its last three games to move to 8-3 overall. Last weekend, the team cruised to a 38-10 decision over NC State in Blacksburg, and the Hokies have allowed a total of 19 points during the current winning streak.
While Virginia Tech has played well lately, Virginia has completely fallen apart, losing five in a row to drop to 3-8 overall. Last weekend, the team simply couldn't keep pace with Clemson in a 34-21 road defeat. That 21-point effort actually marked the highest output for the club since October 10th, as offensive production has been a serious problem.
Virginia Tech has won the last five meetings with Virginia, and the Hokies hold a 48-37-5 advantage in the all-time series.
Ryan Williams, a star freshman tailback for Virginia Tech, padded his already impressive stats against NC State last time out. He finished with 120 yards and four touchdowns on 32 carries, proving capable of handling a heavy workload. Tyrod Taylor managed the game quite well from the quarterback position, as he completed 9-of-17 passes for 197 yards and one score with no interceptions. The Hokies finished with 397 yards in the contest and showed tremendous balance.
Defensively, Tech was dominant against NC State, limiting the Wolfpack to 259 total yards, including 14 rushing yards on 26 attempts. There were a couple of big plays given up through the air, but the Hokies posted an interception and recorded three fumble recoveries. Those three fumbles were all forced by Cody Grimm, who tied an NCAA record by forcing the giveaways on the first four defensive plays of the game for Tech.
"Those were kind of lucky," Grimm said after the game. "The first was a good play, but the second, I just got my hand on the ball. On the third, I don't know what happened."
"He's amazing," Tech head coach Frank Beamer said. "I never see him get tired. He keeps going the same speed all the time and he's a playmaker. The game makes sense and he has a knack of making plays."
Grimm leads the Tech defense with 93 total tackles, including nine TFLs, and he has forced seven fumbles. The Hokies are allowing only 16.0 ppg to opponents, as well as 300.5 total yards.
Virginia Tech is scoring 30.5 ppg this season to go along with 379.6 total ypg. The offense has posted 37 touchdowns to date, and Williams has been responsible for 15 of those on the ground. The star rookie has rushed for 1,355 yards at a clip of 5.6 yards per attempt and will certainly receive some ACC Player of the Year consideration. As for Taylor, who has rushed for 310 yards and four touchdowns, he has completed 55.9 percent of his tosses for 1,917 yards with 13 touchdowns and only three interceptions.
Virginia hasn't been nearly as productive offensively as Virginia Tech, as the Cavaliers are generating a mere 19.9 ppg and 267.3 total ypg. They are rushing for 92.2 ypg at a clip of 2.7 yards per carry, and they barely completed half of their passes. Jameel Sewell has just as many touchdown passes (seven) as interceptions, and while he has rushed for six touchdowns, his 63 net rushing yards suggest that he isn't too much of a threat with his legs. There is not a standout tailback or receiver on this offensively-challenged roster.
Opponents are scoring 24.9 ppg against Virginia, which is allowing 347.1 total ypg this season. The Cavaliers have actually been fairly solid against the run, as they are permitting a modest 3.9 yards per attempt. As for the pass defense, it has produced mediocre results. With 20 sacks and 19 total takeaways, Virginia has come up with a passable amount of big plays, although there is certainly some room for improvement.
Against Clemson last time out, Virginia was held to 273 total yards, including only 78 rushing yards on 40 attempts. The Cavaliers finished with three offensive touchdowns, including one passing score and one rushing touchdown from Sewell. Unfortunately, the effort wasn't good enough.
"Unfortunately we had some mistakes against a team that can now be called championship-caliber, having won their division," said Virginia coach Al Groh of Clemson. "Those mistakes created some field position issues that ultimately swung the scales."
Virginia only allowed 366 total yards to Clemson, but the Tigers scored twice on the ground and twice through the air en route to 31 points. While the Cavaliers permitted just 3.5 yards per rushing attempt, they allowed 19 of the 26 passes they faced to be completed for 234 yards.
Virginia Tech is the clear choice this weekend, as it will play well on both sides of the ball and silence the UVA faithful.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Virginia Tech 34, Virginia 17
11/25 10:49:03 ET