Virginia (4-3) at (21) Georgia Tech (6-1)|
Saturday, October 25th, 3:30 p.m. (et)
From The Sports Network
By Ralph Lauro, Associate College Football Editor
GAME NOTES: Two of the hottest teams in the ACC are set to clash in Atlanta
this weekend, as the Virginia Cavaliers do battle with the 21st-ranked Georgia
Tech Yellow Jackets.
After a 1-3 start that included three blowout losses, the Cavs weren't given
much of a chance to succeed this season. However, a recent three-game
homestand may have just saved the program's season, as Virginia went a perfect
3-0 in its own backyard. Two of those wins came against ACC foes, including a
16-13 overtime upset of nationally-ranked North Carolina last weekend. The win
improved the team to 2-1 within the ACC, leaving the Cavs just a half-game
back of GT for the top spot in the Coastal Division standings.
Speaking of the Jackets, they were able to move into first place with a hard
fought 21-17 victory at Clemson this past weekend.
"I am awfully proud of our football team and the effort they displayed on
Saturday," said head coach Paul Johnson. "Everyone realized that it was a
pretty hostile environment and once things got going their crowd really got
The victory was the fourth in a row for Tech, which moved into the Top 25
following last weekend's win. It marks the fourth consecutive season that the
program has appeared in the Top 25 at some point. At 6-1 overall, the Jackets
have proven to be a difficult opponents, especially at home, where they are a
perfect 4-0 on the year.
The all-time series between Virginia and Georgia Tech is led by the Cavs,
15-14-1, thanks to wins in four of the last five meetings. Overall, the home
team has won 12 of the last 13 encounters and that is certainly good news for
The Cavs have performed well during their three-game win streak, averaging
27.3 ppg and 377.3 total ypg during that stretch. Considering the team
produced just 9.0 ppg and only 251.2 total ypg during a 1-3 start, the
turnaround is quite significant. Tailback Cedric Peerman has played a big part
in the improvement and last weekend he rushed for 44 yards and two touchdowns,
including the game-winner in overtime of a 16-13 upset of UNC. It wasn't the
most productive day, but when the team needed him, Peerman came through. For
the year, he has now rushed for 423 yards and six scores in six outings. He
also ranks third with 25 catches.
Quarterback Marc Verica is another player that has made a big impact during
this winning streak and although he didn't throw a touchdown pass last
weekend, he sill did a good job in converting 24-of-38 pass attempts for 217
yards. On the year, Verica has completed 65.3 percent of his tosses and he has
done a great job in engineering this offense. Kevin Ogletree has been his
favorite target and he tops the roster with 37 catches for 455 yards and three
touchdowns. Last weekend, Ogletree paced the Cavs with six receptions for 72
Virginia has also improved on defense over recent weeks and the unit is now
giving up 23.0 ppg and 347.9 total ypg for the year. The defense has done a
good job in forcing 14 turnovers, but it has excelled in bringing down
opposing quarterbacks, notching 19 sacks. The Cavs are also coming off a fine
effort on defense, as they limited UNC to 332 total yards and just 13 points.
The defense forced three turnovers in the contest, including two
interceptions. Jon Copper led the charge for Virginia with 16 tackles, while
Clint Sintim had eight stops and a sack. On the year, Copper leads the team
with 60 tackles and Sintim is the ACC's leader in sacks with eight to his
The Yellow Jackets have gotten the job done on the ground this season, as they
are gaining a healthy 248.1 rushing ypg. The offense is averaging 5.0 yards
per carry and has scored 16 of its 21 touchdowns via the run. Last weekend,
Tech used 207 rushing yards to compensate for a pair of turnovers and defeat
Clemson 21-17. Quarterback Josh Nesbitt ran for 77 yards and a touchdown in
the win and he also passed for 91 yards and another score. On the season,
Nesbitt has thrown just two touchdowns in five games, but he has made up for
that by rushing for 357 yards and a team-high five scores. Demaryius Thomas
has clearly been his target of choice and he leads the squad with 22 catches
for 415 yards and three touchdowns.
Last weekend, Thomas logged four receptions for 56 yards and that includes a
game-winning 24-yard touchdown catch with just over five minutes left to play
in the final period. Jonathan Dwyer also played a part in the win last
weekend, rushing for 109 yards on 21 carries. It was another sound effort by
Dwyer, who has now rushed for 684 yards for the season.
Tech's success this year can be attributed in large part to its defense, which
has done a sensational job in holding opponents to a mere 11.6 ppg and only
254.6 total ypg. The unit has fared well in forcing 19 turnovers, including 12
interceptions, and getting in the backfield, recording 20 sacks.
Last weekend, the Jackets were once again stout on defense, as they held
Clemson to only 249 total yards. If that wasn't enough, the unit also forced
six turnovers, including four picks. Dominique Reese had one of those
interceptions and he even returned it 34 yards for a score. He added a forced
fumble, while Morgan Burnett logged two interceptions of his own. Burnett is
not tied for the nation-lead with five picks and he also paces the Jackets
with 44 stops on the year.
Both programs are on a roll right now and this game will go along way in
determining the Coastal Division winner. The Jackets have the edge playing at
home and with their dynamic ground attack and stingy defense, they should be
able to outlast a Virginia club that has struggled on the road this year.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Georgia Tech 24, Virginia 10
10/22 10:31:09 ET