Virginia Tech gets its second straight Thursday Night appearance when they host North Carolina tonight in Blacksburg (8 ET, ESPN). The Hokies are coming off a big win in Georgia Tech last week that gave them control of the ACC’s Coastal Division, but they aren’t out of the woods yet. Tech still has Virginia nipping at its heels and if the race doesn’t get settled this week, then it comes down to a head-to-head showdown between the two in-state rivals next weekend. It takes both a Virginia Tech win tonight, plus a Virginia loss at Florida State on Saturday to end it now and if you’re Tech, you have to see this as your opportunity.
North Carolina hasn’t played really well since September, and quarterback Bryn Renner has had a concussion, even though he’s expected to play in this game. The Tar Heels are playing sound defense though, and with Virginal Tech quarterback Logan Thomas being a model of inconsistency, characteristic for a sophomore quarterback, the Heels can certainly keep this game close. Virginia Tech can still run the ball with David Wilson, whose 175 yards against Georgia Tech last week should’ve vaulted him to the lead in ACC Player of the Year voting and possibly even into the Heisman ceremony. Wilson and the defense will be enough to win this game, so long as Thomas doesn’t make too many mistakes.
Virginia’s got a tough task in Tallahassee, even if they 17 points that Florida State is favored by is on the ridiculous side. The key will be early in the game. Virginia’s strength is its running game, with Perry Jones leading the way. Quarterback Michael Rocco will be in over his head if the game opens up, so this essentially boils down to Florida State’s ability to drive tempo to a level the Cavs can’t keep up with. I expect FSU to win this game, and with it hand the Coastal Division to Virginia Tech. But this game will be close, and if I’m a Hokie fan I want this race over by Saturday night. Mike London’s Virginia team is having one of those years that could end up as a magic ride if they get a head-up shot at Tech on in Charlottesville in nine days. Virginia Tech’s two-pronged road to clinching this weekend starts tonight against North Carolina.