11 game losing streak: Check
Frank Beamer's last game: Check
Virginia Tech's 22 year bowl streak: Check
The Hoos' in-state rival: Check
Mike London's last game: ???
This game needs no introduction, so without further ado, here is what Virginia will need to do if they want to come out victorious on Saturday.
1) Make the Hokies outscore you - Going beyond the "score more points to win" hot take, if this game is low scoring, advantage Virginia Tech. In recent weeks, the Hoos have really hit their stride offensively scoring 42 and 31 points in their last two outings. While the Hokies average scoring per game is fairly reasonable at 29.5 per game, a lot of that is by virtue of their defense's ability to create turnovers which lead to points or a short field. It isn't the type of offense that can come back from behind in a hurry. If Virginia can get an early lead and make Virginia Tech play catch-up, they could find themselves able to hold them off.
2) Contain the Tight End - Virginia Tech has seemingly always been able to identify and exploit personnel mismatches against Virginia. Whether it's been Logan Thomas being able to gain 4 yards just by pushing the line forward or David Wilson running rough-shod over the Virginia defense, there has always been a guy in Maroon and Orange who makes us fans say "we have no answer for him." This year keep your eye on Virginia Tech tight ends Bucky Hodges and Ryan Malleck. The two have combined for 669 yards on the season and eight touchdowns. What scares me most about this duo is Jon Tenuta's Virginia defense and their propensity to blitz leaving short, over the middle throws wide open. These two are the type that can exploit that. Hodges from the standpoint that he is big and athletic and turn those into huge gains, while Malleck is a chain mover with great hands that will take that play all day long. While Virginia Tech has some other solid receiving options, the two tight ends are difference makers.
3) Pound the rock - The strength of the Hokie defense is limiting the pass which should provide the Hoos' offense some room to run. And if they stay creative and keep the Hokie defense off-balance, that should open things up in passing game. We'll all be on Smoke watch, seeing if Taquan Mizzell can pick up the 55 rushing and 29 receiving yards he needs to reach 700 yards in each category. But it's the others lining up in the backfield that are intriguing. Whether it's Olamide Zaccheaus on the outside and in open space, or Albert Reid and Daniel Hamm between the tackles, Virginia's run game should find success against a Hokie unit that is giving up 172.5 yards per game on the ground. Combine that with the hope that Virginia can get an early lead, keeping the ball on the ground will go a long toward a Wahoo win.
Check back on Sunday to see how these played out. If you're in Scott Stadium be loud. If you're watching from home, come join us in the game thread. However you watch, enjoy, and Go Hoos.