When Virginia Tech and Virginia face off in their annual matchup, it's usually the talk around the commonwealth of Virginia. The two most popular universities in the commonwealth are on one football field and emotions are high. Yes it's a rivalry, but it's been one of the most one-sided rivalries in the country over the past decade.
Virginia Tech is 10-1 in their last 11 games against Virginia, and the last time they lost was 2003 in Charlottesville, when Matt Schaub executed a perfect fake field goal (he was also the place holder) and threw a touchdown pass to a wide open Heath Miller.
The last time Virginia beat the Hokies in Blacksburg was in 1998, which was Michael Vick's first year in Blacksburg, but he redshirted. Although the rivalry has been one-sided, the game is still looked forward to every season.
The Hokies have already clinched the ACC Coastal Division and are playing for their 10th straight win and seventh straight season with 10 wins or more. Virginia is playing in their last game of head coach Mike London's inaugural season and this is basically their bowl game.
These two teams are playing for pride, but they're also playing for recruiting style points as well. The Hokies took a hit on recruiting when they lost to JMU, at least initially. They've proved this year that the game was a fluke and they're a legitimate power in college football. London has done a good job of establishing a recruiting base in the Hampton Roads area and a win on Saturday should elevate his success.
How many years will it take before Mike London beats Virginia Tech?
However, that's going to be tough. Yes, the Hokies have already locked up their spot in the ACC Championship game and are waiting an opponent. But, don't forget that it's senior day in Blacksburg and Tyrod Taylor is the winningest quarterback in Virginia Tech history. Taylor is 32-7 as a starter, has over 8,400 yards of total offense and 61 total touchdowns.
The Hokies have clinched three ACC Coastal Division titles since Taylor has been in Blacksburg and have won two ACC Championships with one yet to be played, and have won an Orange Bowl. More importantly, Taylor has been an ideal student-athlete and the face of the Virginia Tech football program since he arrived in Blacksburg in 2007.
It's not every year that you have a player like Taylor come through your football program, and the Hokie Nation will surely give him a huge ovation on Saturday in his last game at Lane Stadium on Worsham Field.
What's been great about Taylor is that he's handled the pressure of being proclaimed as the "next Michael Vick." He simply wasn't, and that was a good thing. He struggled as a passer early in his career, but has now become one of the nation's most efficient, while being a huge threat on the ground as well.
He came to Blacksburg as the top dual-threat quarterback prospect in the nation and he will leave college football as one of the best. Without Taylor this year, the Hokies would have been a four-loss team or worse.
He willed the Hokies to victory week after week, and he didn't allow his team to throw in the towel on the season after losing their first two games. Nine straight wins and counting for the Hokies, and it will likely be 10 straight on Saturday.
Along with Taylor, the Hokies have Ryan Williams, Darren Evans and David Wilson in the backfield. Williams is finally healthy after battling a hamstring injury for the majority of the season and Evans leads the team in rushing. Wilson is a spark waiting to catch fire in the Hokies offense and on special teams as the kick returner.
Defensively, Jayron Hosley is a straight up beast. The sophomore leads the nation with eight interceptions, seven on the road, and will look to add to that total against Marc Verica and any freshman quarterback that takes the field against the Hokies.
Verica is likely going to struggle for much of the day against the Hokies pass rush. If the Cavaliers are going to have success, it will likely be on the opening drive of the game when the Hokies have often looked lost and confused, see North Carolina and Miami.
Don't be surprised if London has a trick or two up his sleeve. Remember the 2008 match up in Blacksburg? Hokie fans do, because Vic Hall was used as the quarterback for the majority of the game and Al Groh actually used a creative game plan that nearly caught the Hokies sleeping. Tech held on to win 17-14, but they had absolutely zero film of how to stop Hall and the option offense Virginia was running.
Don't expect something like that to happen on Saturday, but do expect some surprising play calls. Virginia has executed a few successful fake field goals the last couple of weeks, so you have to credit London for gutsy play calling. Add to the fact that Virginia's season ends after Saturday, so we should see all of London's cards on the table before the game is over.
The Hokies are 24-point favorites, and they could honestly score that in the first quarter. Taylor will likely be able to come off the field in the fourth quarter to a final ovation as the Hokies next quarterback, Logan Thomas takes the field. It will almost be like Taylor is passing the keys to his younger teammate who has a few expectations of his own.
Expect the Hokies to play an emotional game for their seniors and win their 10th straight game and go into the ACC Championship with momentum. No matter what London pulls out of his hat, this one won't be close.
Virginia Tech 51, Virginia 16