Virginia Tech-Virginia: What the Hokies Need to Do to Clinch the ACC Coastal

Justin CocchiolaCorrespondent INovember 28, 2008

The last time Virginia beat Virginia Tech in Blacksburg was 1998, and the Hokies have won all but one of the meetings since 2003.  If there's a year that winning streak at home is in jeopardy, it's this one.

Virginia Tech is 7-4 overall, and with a win over Virginia they would clinch the Coastal Division in the ACC and head down to Tampa Bay next week.  Virginia is 5-6 overall and trying to become bowl eligible.  Both teams have struggled all season. 

Virginia looked like they had turned the corner against Maryland after an embarrassing loss against Duke, but the Cavaliers have lost their last three games.

The Hokies lost their season opener to East Carolina but then won five games in a row.  They followed the five-game win streak by losing three of their next five. 

That puts us at Saturday.  The Battle for the Commonwealth Cup should be a defensive battle, with two painfully futile offenses on the field.

Tyrod Taylor has been announced as the starter, and considering how he played last week, and the fact that it's Senior Day, it's pretty surprising to see him get the start.  I doubt a two-quarterback system will be used in this one unless Taylor struggles.

Darren Evans will be the key to the Hokies' offensive success.  Virginia is allowing 143.5 rushing yards per game, which should mean Evans will rush for at least 100 yards.  This will also benefit Taylor, so look for Virginia Tech to have close to 200 yards rushing, if not more.

Defensively for Virginia Tech, Macho Harris and Stephan Virgil will need to pick up where they left off.  Virginia ranks second in passing in the ACC with 214 yards a game.  It's a possibility they hit this mark, because they will have trouble rushing the football against this defensive front.

However, with the passing yards will come interceptions for this Virginia offense.  Marc Verica is third in passing in the ACC, which is impressive considering he didn't play in the first two games of the season, but he has thrown only eight touchdowns to his 15 interceptions. 

Verica will not be able to throw more than one interception and keep Virginia in this game.

If turnovers become the story for Virginia, and they can't get Cedric Peerman going on the ground, the Cavaliers will have no shot of winning this game.  Virginia Tech's defense could very well become the best offense for the team on Saturday, led by Harris, who will look to have a big day on Senior Day.

I look for Virginia Tech to pound the ball on the ground all day long, whether it's with Evans, Taylor, or Greg Boone running the ball out of the "Wild Turkey" formation.  I don't expect Tech to throw the ball a lot in this one.  The question mark for the offense is whether they can score touchdowns in place of field goals.

On the contrary, Virginia will be trying to air it out all game.  If they can get Peerman going on the ground, then UVA will have a good shot at winning this game.  I don't see that happening, and Verica will throw one pick too many.

Virginia Tech should win this one, but I would be surprised if it isn't close.

Virginia Tech 13, Virginia 12