TIME: 3:30 PM (EST)
DATE: November 23rd, 2018
LOCATION: Lane Stadium | Blacksburg, VA
HOW TO WATCH: ABC
Let’s cut to the chase. Friday’s game will mark the 100th matchup of these two teams which has been lopsided towards the Hokies (57-37-7). Tech has won the last 14 games, dating back to 2003. For many, this simply hasn’t been a competitive rivalry and Virginia fans have been conditioned to expect the worse in the yearly matchup.
This year’s matchup between Virginia and Virginia Tech is different though, for a plethora of reasons. For trend-analyzers, both Bronco Mendenhall and Justin Fuente inherited their respective programs in 2016. Since then, UVA has posted a better record every year...while Tech has posted a worse record every year. The Hokies are on a four-game slide, with their last win being a last-minute comeback against the now 2-8 UNC Tar Heels.
For statisticians, Tech is not ranked in the top-25 for any of the major team categories. The Hoos meanwhile are ranked 24th in scoring defense, 22nd in yards defended, 15th in passing defense, and 13th in 3rd down offense.
For betters, Virginia also opened as four-point favorites at Blacksburg. The Hoos haven’t been favored to beat the Hokies since 2014.
Oh, and this year, it’s Tech that is fighting to be bowl-eligible, something that they’ve done for the last 25 years. This is longest consecutive bowl-game streak recognized by the NCAA. Tech has also already scheduled a game with Marshall (contingent on if they win this week) to keep their hopes alive.
Enough about what’s on the line though. The fans, players, and coaches all know the stakes. Virginia has undoubtedly had a great season, but despite the team’s successes, many fans will look to this game as a true litmus test about the future of football in Charlottesville. The #NewStandard feels real but total buy-in from fans requires a win over Tech. There’s just no other way around it.
from Danny Neckel
|Defensive Pts/Game||1st (56.7)||Offensive Pts/Game||28th (80.2)|
|Offensive 3Pt%||7th (39.4%)||Defensive 3Pt%||196th (34.5%)|
|Defensive 3Pt%||4th (28.7%)||Offensive 3Pt%||31st (37.9%)|
|Offensive Effeciency||4th (1.141)||Offensive Effeciency||10th (1.117)|
|3rd Down Defense||90th (41.7%)||3rd Down Offense||29th (43.9%)|
|Passing Offense||83rd (382.5)||Passing Defense||66th (230.8)|
Bryce Perkins, QB
In last weekend’s loss against Georgia Tech, there was a scary moment when Perkins went down with what looked like a serious injury. However, he ended up being able to get back out on the field and looked like his normal self for the rest of the game. This will be the first time that Perkins will face off against the Hokies. His connection with Olamide Zaccheaus early on might be indicator of the game might go.
Robert Snyder, LB
Second-year Robert Snyder as quietly stepped into a larger role of the team. Over the last two weeks, he has amassed 22 total tackles (10 solo) and one sack. With some injuries to the linebacker corps, Snyder has become a more reliable player. Alongside the emergence of Zane Zandier, Snyder will be an important piece for the Hoos. But, the focus this week is to prevent the Hokies run game and make them one-dimensional.
Bronco Mendenhall, HC
Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall has seemingly turned the corner for Virginia football. Despite two tough losses to Pittsburgh and Georgia Tech in the last three weeks, this season has still been a resounding success. Coach Mendenhall has taken this program to new highs after being projected to be last in the ACC, which is no small feat. Despite that, many might see a win this week as more important and seismic than anything else.
Virginia Tech Hokies
Ryan Willis, QB
Junior quarterback Ryan Willis had to step into the starter’s position this year after Josh Jackson sustained a season-ending tibia fracture. Willis has done a good job for the Hokies so far and has amassed 1986 passing yards and 17 touchdowns. Lately, the quarterback has been battered as he was sacked four times last week and had to be helped off the field twice against Boston Collge, two weeks ago.
Virginia Tech Hokies
Damon Hazelton, WR
Damon Hazelton is Willis’ main target. He is averaging 16.6 yards per catch and has eight touchdowns on the season. Overall, the sophomore has 745 receiving yards and the next best receiver for Virginia Tech is Eric Kumah, who only has 437 receiving yards. Look for Bryce Hall to be matched up against Hazelton, which should be an intriguing matchup to watch all afternoon.
Virginia Tech Hokies
Justin Fuente, HC
The hirings of Justin Fuente and Bronco Mendenhall in 2016 was symbolic of a new era in Blacksburg and Charlottesville, respectively. This year has been tough for the Hokies and the fans in Blacksburg certainly aren’t used to their team being the one with a losing record heading into the rivalry game. With Virginia Tech reeling, Coach Fuente knows that this game can reignite his players and the fanbase.
Canned cranberry sauce?
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