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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, September 26, 7:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bobby Dodd Stadium (55,000) -- Atlanta, Georgia. Television: ESPN. Home Record: Virginia Tech 2-0, Georgia Tech 2-0. Away Record: Virginia Tech 1-0, Georgia Tech 1-0. Neutral Record: Virginia Tech 0-1, Georgia Tech 0-0. Conference Record: Virginia Tech 0-0, Georgia Tech 2-0. Series Record: Virginia Tech leads, 7-3.
GAME NOTES: There will be no rest for the weary on Thursday night when the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets welcome the Virginia Tech Hokies to Bobby Dodd Stadium for a nationally-televised ACC clash.
This is the league opener for a Virginia Tech squad that has gone 8-1 in its ACC openers since joining the conference in 2004. The Hokies are riding a three-game winning streak since falling to top-ranked Alabama in their season debut. This past Saturday, they needed three overtimes to upend Marshall at home, 29-21.
Georgia Tech has won six straight regular-season league games and is one shy of tying the school record for its longest ACC winning streak. The Yellow Jackets are off to a 3-0 start and have already notched league wins over Duke (38-14) and North Carolina (28-20). The latter of those victories occurred last weekend in come-from-behind fashion as the Yellow Jackets overcame steady rainfall, as well as a 13-0 deficit in the first quarter and a 20-7 margin in the second quarter.
Virginia Tech has won five of the last six meetings with the Yellow Jackets to take a 7-3 lead in the head-to-head series. The Hokies have never lost to Georgia Tech in four Thursday night meetings. The two teams are the only teams to have claimed Coastal Division titles since the ACC began its two-division format in 2005.
Virginia Tech nearly coughed up last week's game on multiple occasions. Starting kicker Cody Journell was serving a suspension, and backup Ethan Keyserling missed all three of his field-goal attempts, including two in overtime. Nevertheless, the Hokies held strong and ultimately prevailed on Logan Thomas' second touchdown run of the day in the third overtime. Thomas had an up-and-down game in tough weather conditions, as he threw for 181 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions, while averaging 2.5 yards on 23 carries. Trey Edmunds powered the ground game with 110 yards on 22 totes and is averaging 88.0 rushing yards (4.5 ypc) through four games.
The Hokies defense has generated 10 takeaways on the season (nine interceptions, one fumble recovery), which is tied for eighth nationally. Their nine interceptions are the second-most in the nation. Kyshoen Jarrett and Kendall Fuller each notched interceptions against Marshall, while cornerback Kyle Fuller had four pass breakups. The defense came up big in overtime, blocking a field goal in the first extra session and then forcing and recovering a fumble in the second. After taking the lead, the Hokies held strong in the third OT by forcing four straight incompletions to end the game. J.R. Collins finished with a team-best nine tackles, including 1.5 sacks, and seven of the Hokies' 21 quarterback hurries.
Once again, Georgia Tech's ground game was instrumental in its latest victory, particularly in the second half. The unit enters this week boasting the nation's No. 4 rushing offense (345.3), the sixth straight year the team has ranked in the top-five in that department. In addition, Tech is ranked second in the FBS in third-down percentage (.667), third in yards per completion (19.0), fifth in pass efficiency (200.54), and 10th in scoring (45.3). Sophomore dual-threat quarterback Vad Lee has accounted for 10 of the team's 18 offensive touchdowns this season (seven passing, three rushing). In last week's win over UNC, Robert Godhigh ran for 100 yards on nine carries, while David Sims had 99 yards and two scores on the ground.
The Yellow Jackets defense came through with a second-half shutout against UNC. In fact, Georgia Tech's defense has given up just seven second-half points over the last five games, dating back to 2012. Overall, the unit is 11th in the FBS in total defense (275.3). After UNC took a 20-7 lead on a 24- yard touchdown pass with 9:18 remaining in the second quarter, the Yellow Jackets gave up no points the rest of the way. In fact, the Tar Heels' never possessed the ball for longer than three minutes over their final six drives. Unfortunately, three defensive starters exited with injuries during the game. Linebacker Quayshawn Nealy and safety Chris Melton left in the first half and did not return, while starting safety Jamal Golden was taken to the locker room in the third quarter.
More often than not, games between these two division rivals are decided by single digits. Virginia Tech has dominated the head-to-head series of late, but this time the Hokies are playing in Atlanta against an unbeaten Georgia Tech squad that is off to a 2-0 start in conference play.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Georgia Tech 31, Virginia Tech 28
09/25 10:33:19 ET
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