Virginia Tech came into Saturday's game against North Carolina having won seven straight. They left Chapel Hill with their eighth win in a row, which is the first time they've won eight straight since 2005.
The Hokies need one more win to clinch the Coastal Division title or a Miami loss. Tech travels to Miami on Saturday in what should be another good matchup between the two teams. It's a battle for the Coastal Division title, but the Hokies are the only team that can win the division next Saturday. If Tech for some reason falters on the road, they return home the following week to take on the struggling Virginia Cavaliers.
Against North Carolina, the Hokies defense got off to a slow start. UNC quarterback T.J. Yates led an eight play 80-yard drive that took only 3:30 to put the Tar Heels on the board first. However, that was about all the fire power the Tar Heels had.
That opening defensive series is reminiscent of the entire season for the Hokies. They get down, but they're never out. Bud Foster's defense forced six turnovers in the game. Yates had four interceptions for the year coming into Saturday's matchup, but threw four against the Hokies.
Hokies cornerback Jayron Hosley picked Yates off twice, which gives him seven picks on the year. Tech also held UNC to 314 yards of total offense on the day, and, as stated earlier, 80 of those yards came on the Tar Heels opening drive.
Tyrod Taylor had another impressive day. The senior threw for 249 yards and two touchdowns, and, for once, he didn't have to do much with his legs. Darren Evans and Ryan Williams combined for 173 yards rushing.
The offensive line also played very well for the Hokies. There were a number of times when Taylor had five or more seconds to throw the ball, which allowed him to make big plays down the field.
Marcus Davis stepped in for the injured Dyrell Roberts and had a very good game. The sophomore wideout had four catches for 81 yards and two touchdowns.
Although the Hokies blew the game open in the third quarter with 17 points, there's still room for concern with their offense. In the first half, the Hokies could not find the end zone when entering the red zone. They've had problems like this in the past, and their lucky their defense played so well in the second half.
Tech has to make better use of their red zone trips if they want to win the Orange Bowl, but if they're defense plays like they did on Saturday they can get away with settling for field goals.
Virginia Tech now has one of their biggest, if not the biggest game of their season facing them on Saturday. The matchup doesn't have a tremendous amount of hype surrounding it because Miami isn't ranked, and the ACC hasn't been very good this year. However, when these two teams play you never know what's going to happen.
Last year, 9th ranked Miami came into Blacksburg to take on the 11th ranked Hokies and Tech absolutely dominated the Hurricanes. Miami's national title hopes, and Jacory Harris' Heisman hopes went down the drain after that loss, which should provide Miami with some added motivation.
That being said, Virginia Tech is by far the better team this year. It's been proven week in and week out that the Hokies are the team to beat in the ACC. The two teams they have not beaten convincingly in conference play is Georgia Tech and N.C. State, but they had two impressive comebacks in each of those games.
The only thing this year's Virginia Tech team has in common with past teams is that they play their best late in the season. However, past Tech teams have not been the most resilient. Yes, they've had comeback wins in the past, but there's just a different attitude with this group of players.
The game will be close in the beginning next week, but expect the Hokies to pull away late against Miami and clinch the Coastal Division for the third time in the last four years.