Virginia Tech needs to beat in-state rival Virginia this week to go bowling after a thrilling overtime victory against Boston College last week.
Of course, Virginia (4-7, 2-5 ACC) is going to do everything in its power to stop the Hokies on Saturday in Blacksburg. While the Cavaliers will not go bowling this season, they still have an opportunity to play spoiler.
Here's a look at the ACC clash on Saturday.
Where: Lane Stadium, Blacksburg, VA
When: Saturday, Nov. 24 at 12 p.m. ET
Live Stream: WatchESPN
Betting Line: Virginia Tech -10.5, Over/Under 49.5 (via ScoresAndOdds.com)
What's At Stake?
Since capturing the ACC three times in four years, this will be the second straight year the Hokies miss out on the crown, after Clemson knocked them out in the ACC Championship Game last season.
Not only that, if the Hokies lose to Virginia, it would mark the first time they were held out of a bowl game since 1992. They currently have the third-longest bowl streak in the nation.
Virginia hasn't won the ACC since being co-champions with Florida State in 1995. This season will mark the fourth time in the last seven years that the Cavaliers haven't made a bowl game.
Injury Report (via USA Today)
PK Ian Frye - Lower Body - Questionable
CB Maurice Canady - Illness - Questionable
WR Brian Pomper - Lower Body - Questionable
DE Diamonte Bailey - Illness - Questionable
OT Nick Koutris - Lower Body - Questionable
FB Sammy MacFarlane - Lower Body - Questionable
CB Kyle Fuller - Undisclosed - Questionable
DE James Gayle - Shoulder - Questionable
CB Donaldven Manning - Undisclosed - Questionable
S Michael Cole - Neck - Questionable
What They're Saying
Virginia coach Mike London has used a two-quarterback system consisting of junior Michael Rocco and sophomore Phillip Sims all season long. The idea is to use both players' abilities at the right moments.
But when the Cavaliers were trailing North Carolina in the second quarter last week, 14-10, Rocco's interception that was run back for a touchdown changed the momentum.
Rocco said after the game, via ESPN:
It's tough. It was tough on our defense when we didn't score, and a little bit deflating. Football is like that sometimes. It can change so quickly, and it happened for us today like that.
Sims said beating Virginia Tech "would be big-time for us" while Rocco said "this is basically our bowl game," via NBC 29 News.
The Hokies lead the historic series, 51-37-5, and have won the last eight meetings between the two teams, per TheSabre.com. The series dates back to 1895.
Virginia Player to Watch: Kevin Parks, RB
The Cavaliers have been a more pass-happy team this season, but I'm going on good faith that Mike London will realize the Hokies are much easier to beat on the ground this year.
The Hokies allowed Boston College junior Rolandan Finch to rush for 133 yards last week and they have allowed 3.86 yards per carry this season, 40th in the nation, via CFBStats.com.
Parks has rushed for 713 yards and five touchdowns on 4.7 yards per carry this season.
Virginia Tech Player to Watch: Logan Thomas, QB
Virginia has actually allowed just 6.6 yards per pass attempt this season (tied with the Hokies for 31st in the country), but the Cavaliers have only notched four interceptions.
Before throwing for 247 yards and two touchdowns against Boston College last week, Logan Thomas had tossed 14 interceptions in his previous eight games.
It's not a coincidence that three of Virginia Tech's five wins have come when Thomas hasn't thrown a pick. If he can be smart with the pigskin on Saturday, the Hokies should emerge victorious.
Key Matchup: Virginia Running Game vs. Virginia Tech Run Defense
I really believe that Virginia can make a game out of this if it remains committed to the run. The Hokies don't score a lot of points, so if you can put some points on the board, you have a chance.
Given the nature of Virginia's quarterback situation right now, I have to believe the Cavaliers will try to run the ball more like they did in the 33-6 victory over N.C. State on Nov. 3.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 27, Virginia 24
There are two things in particular that make me question Virginia uprooting Virginia Tech.
One, I don't know if Virginia will be as committed to the run as it should be, given the trend throughout the season.
Two, the Virginia defense has allowed 77 points in its last two games. Even if the Hokies don't score a lot, the Cavaliers' defense has fallen off a cliff.
Either way, I don't see Virginia Tech winning by more than 10 points like the current odds suggest.