As it seems to be every year, the race for the ACC championship is in murky water.
But after tonight’s game between Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech, we should know a lot more.
The winner of this game has gone on to represent the Coastal Division every year since the league expanded. That does not bode well for Virginia who also controls its own destiny but has to beat Duke, Florida State and Virginia Tech in order to reach the championship game.
So which team will win tonight and ultimately go on to represent the division?
Virginia Tech is the higher ranked team but they have done little to prove they deserve that ranking.
Their only game so far against a ranked opponent was Clemson and they failed to score a touchdown the entire game. The defense held Sammy Watkins to his lowest output of anyone but facing Georgia Tech’s triple option has not been defensive coordinator Bud Foster’s specialty.
In the three games since Paul Johnson implemented that system in Atlanta, the Hokies are giving up an average of 311 rushing yards per game. With three defensive starters out in the defensive front seven, things could get even worse.
Defensive end J.R. Collins will move to defensive tackle and Jack Tyler will take over at middle linebacker, even though his only start was in the Orange Bowl where he repeatedly blew coverage.
Georgia Tech’s offense found its spark again when playing Clemson two weeks ago but that is largely due to the Tigers ranking 76th in rush defense coming into the game. They also got shredded in the 2009 ACC Championship by the Yellow Jackets for 39 points.
The Ramblin’ Wreck is also not very good against the rush, allowing 162 yards on the ground per game. Against the nation’s second-leading rusher, David Wilson, that just won’t cut it.
Defensive coordinator Al Groh was formerly the head coach of Virginia, and he only beat Virginia Tech once during his 10-year tenure.
One of the keys to this game will be turnovers. Two red zone turnovers cost Georgia Tech the victory last year against the Hokies.
The other major factor will be time of possession. The winner of the game has always won the time of possession battle and with Georgia Tech averaging 32:29 per game and Virginia Tech averaging 34:20, something will have to give.
This game should be a welcome respite from everything going on at Penn State. It will be a close game but ultimately the Yellow Jackets won’t have an answer for Virginia Tech’s David Wilson who could insert himself into the Heisman discussion with a big performance tonight.
The Hokies win this game and move on to represent the ACC Coastal division in the championship game for a rematch with Clemson.