Two teams in search for their first-ever BCS National Championship meet in an intriguing Monday Night (College) Football matchup looking to prove to the nation that they belong in the conversation. Boise State travels to our nation’s capital to take on Virginia Tech in an all-important non-conference game between two Top-10 programs that could propel one of these powerhouses to Glendale in January. Let’s take a look at five key storylines that could be the determining factor in a game with national title implications.
Virginia Tech's Ryan Williams and Darren Evans could combine to rush for 200 plus yards opening up the passing game for big play threat Jarrett Boykin to play catch with QB Tyrod Taylor. IF they can find a way to limit the three-headed rushing attack of Williams, Evans, and Taylor, Boise state will put the pressure on the VT passing attack which is a battle they can win.
Usually known for their turnover-forcing potential Virginia Tech was lacking with only 24 in 2009 although they still ranked 13th in turnover margin at +9. They have the ability to force turnovers and turn this game in their favor. Based on 2009 Boise St. could quietly win this battle. Last year they forced 35 turnovers with a turnover margin of +21. If they can force Tyrod Taylor into tough situations they may be able to force him into a bad throw that could change the game.
Many experts point out the Hokies only return about half of their 2009 starting 22, however with their loaded backfield, the effect on the O-line should be minimal and the defense is poised to be faster than ever. The athleticism is there, but how quickly can they gain the on-the-field knowledge to start their climb up the defensive rankings? Returning 21 of 22 starters gives any top-10 team an edge, but losing Kyle Wilson in the secondary could be felt quickly if Virginia Tech can set up the deep ball with Williams and Evans early on.
Beamerball has become a staple in Virginia Tech's biggest wins. 2009 was no different. With field goal and punt blocks down, the return units more than made up for the lack of blocks with Dyrell Roberts(31.9 yards/return) on the kickoff team and the speedy Jayron Hosley returning punts after Ryan Williams decided to focus on offense.
Although Beamerball holds the reputation, Boise St. had the fourth best kickoff return average at 26.6 yards/return in 2009 solidifying their special teams resumé. Coach Peterson always seems to have something tricky in his playbook when the game is on the line, will the Hokies be ready?
Many consider the ACC a weak BCS conference but 10 bowl eligible teams in 2008 and seven in 2009 speak to the overall strength and depth of the conference. Virginia Tech plays Boise St. caliber teams sometimes 4-5 times a year. With recent out-of-conference games against USC, LSU, and Alabama, they aren’t scared to play with the big boys but are still looking for that defining win to jumpstart their season.
Questions still arise about their legitimacy being in the WAC, which has lead to a transition into the MWC in 2011. However, BSU shocked the college football world against Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl and again last season with their domination of the Ducks in Eugene…can they "bring their talents to D.C.?"
Although Boise St. has been the underdog before, they should be favored in this contest and rightfully so. However, Virginia Tech is a BCS school who has been on the verge of greatness since its acceptance into the ACC and if not for stumbling against LSU in 2008 they may have had a national title shot already.
They have the experience in these types of games which gives them the edge. I expect a very close game, but a stadium full of fans clad in maroon and orange celebrating as their Hokies start the season off with an important win and possible springboard to the ACC Championship or even…Glendale, AZ.