1:00 PM ET, December 1, 2007
If not for a late comeback by Boston College in October, Virginia Tech may still be in line for a spot in the BCS national championship game.
The sixth-ranked Hokies get a rare chance for revenge Saturday when they face the No. 12 Eagles in the ACC title game in Jacksonville, with the winner likely earning a spot in the Orange Bowl.
When these teams met in Blacksburg on Oct. 25, BC (10-2, 6-2) was undefeated and ranked No. 2 while the Hokies (10-2, 7-1) had lost only to LSU. Virginia Tech led 10-0 with less than three minutes to play before two late Matt Ryan touchdown passes gave the Eagles a 14-10 win.
But after four straight victories following that defeat, including a 33-21 win over Virginia last week in a game that was for the Coastal Division crown, the Hokies get their rematch. They haven't faced a team twice in a season since beating William and Mary twice in three days in 1906.
"There's not much more we could ask for," quarterback Sean Glennon said.
Virginia Tech certainly won't be short on confidence coming off its big road win over the rival Cavaliers. With their unusual quarterback combination finally healthy and working better than ever and running back Branden Ore turning in his best performance of the season, the Hokies earned their fourth straight win over Virginia and their fourth straight 10-win season.
They also advanced to the ACC title game for the second time in three years after winning the league in its final year without a championship game in 2004.
Glennon threw for 260 yards and a 39-yard touchdown to Eddie Royal that gave the Hokies the lead for good 12 seconds before halftime last week, while freshman quarterback Tyrod Taylor ran for Virginia Tech's first and last touchdowns. The two had been in limbo, trading the starting spot and alternately getting hurt all year, but finally seem to have each found their roles.
Ore, meanwhile, ran for 147 yards on 31 carries, his biggest output since October 2006. It was his first 100-yard effort of the season after he reached the mark four times last year.
"It's definitely one of the most important games, most important wins, I've been a part of," Glennon said. "I don't know if I've been part of too many games that had more on the line than that."
BC's game against Miami last week was meaningless in the standings, as the Eagles had already clinched the Atlantic Division, but they beat the Hurricanes 28-14 for their first win in the series since Doug Flutie's Hail Mary in 1984.
The Eagles have had a historic season in their first year under coach Jeff Jagodzinski, starting 8-0 for the first time since 1942, winning 10 regular-season games for the first time since 1940 and capturing the Atlantic for the first time since joining the league in 2005.
But a two-game slide knocked the Eagles from national title contention. After beating Virginia Tech, BC dropped consecutive games to Florida State and Maryland.
The Eagles rebounded with a 20-17 win over Clemson Nov. 17 to clinch the division, and against Miami, Ryan was 26-of-43 for 369 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. It was his fourth consecutive 300-yard passing effort and eighth of the season.
"Coach was telling us we didn't want to go in with a flat tire, with a setback," receiver Rich Gunnell said. "We want to go in with all the momentum we can."
Behind Ryan and senior running back Andre Callender (905 yards rushing, 613 yards receiving, 13 total touchdowns), the Eagles average over 100 more yards per game than Virginia Tech, but the Hokies make up for it defensively. Virginia Tech allows the second-fewest points per game in the nation (15.4) and the fourth-fewest yards (285.3). The Hokies held BC scoreless for 57 minutes in October even without standout linebacker Vince Hall.
Hall has since returned from a broken wrist to notch 20 tackles in two games, and had 1 1/2 sacks against Virginia. The Hokies also have three all-ACC first-team defensive players in end Chris Ellis, linebacker Xavier Adibi and cornerback Victor Harris.
Despite having two losses, Virginia Tech can keep its name at least in the conversation for a national championship game berth with a win. The Hokies would need both Missouri and West Virginia to lose this week, and would need to leapfrog idle Georgia and Kansas in the BCS standings while hoping another team like LSU wouldn't pass them.
BC, at 11th in the BCS standings, is already out of the picture, but is seeking its second Orange Bowl berth and first since 1943.
Eagles backup running back A.J. Brooks will miss this game after being suspended from the team indefinitely Monday. Brooks, who had carried 25 times for 79 yards this season, was arrested after allegedly beating and kicking a 20-year-old man on BC's campus.
The Eagles have won three of four against Virginia Tech since snapping their seven-game losing streak in the series from 1996-2002. Most of those games were as Big East rivals.
This is the first time in the three-year history of the ACC championship game that two of the three schools that came over from the Big East will face off.
Top 25 Overview
Revenge will be on the mind of Virginia Tech in the ACC championship game when the Hokies meet Boston College. If not for a late rally by BC and QB Matt Ryan on Oct. 25, Virginia Tech could be playing for a spot in the BCS title game. Instead, the winner gets a BCS bowl berth, likely in the Orange Bowl.
Boston College will try to make it two wins in one season against Virginia Tech, but much has changed since the Eagles and Hokies last met, writes Scouts Inc.
|Avg Points Allowed||15.5||20.3|