Saturday, December 01, 2007

Game Preview - ACC Championship

Here we go again. On Saturday, the Hokies will have an opportunity to exact revenge upon the Eagles of Boston College after a two minute total collapse leading the forfeiture of a ten point lead in the two teams' first meeting this season. In that game, quarterback Matt Ryan orchestrated a two touchdown run with the help of an offense that did nothing with an interception at roughly the 6 minute mark, a bobbled onside kick reception, and a defense that allowed two quick drives down the field each earning an Eagle touchdown.

When the Hokies retired to their locker room after the loss, Sean Glennon rallied the team to keep one thing in mind: the ACC Championship. The team hung signs all over the locker room that read "6:01", the time the game began to get away from the Hokies. The Hokies haven't lost since in earning decisive victories over Virginia, Miami, and Florida State. With Boston College winning the Atlantic conference, they now have a rematch and seek redemption with hopes of a BCS bowl in their sights. This marks the first time in more than 100 years that Virginia Tech will play the same team twice in one season.

This game has a lot of mental aspects to it. Either team can win this contest. Some of these aspects are in favor of the Hokies. Squeaking by with the victory against the Hokies and subsequently loosing to Florida State, who the Hokies beat, and Maryland, the Eagles know that this game is not in the bag for them. Nothing would cast more of a shadow over their October comeback than a loss to the same team in the conference championship game. The Eagles also have to face a more healthy Hokie Squad. Vince Hall returns to the lineup. Tyrod Taylor will take a number of snaps to mix up the offense rather than the Hokies only making use of Sean Glennon's passing abilities. The entire receiver core is healthy and seems to have more chemistry with Glennon than at the mid-season point. Branden Ore has seemed to wake up in the last couple of games and looks more in the form of his 2006 performances.

On the other side of the mental situation, the Hokies are missing some elements from the regular season matchup between the two teams. First, they will not be playing in Lane Staduim in front of a stadium primarily packed with screaming Hokie fans. They also are not an underdog by the BCS standings, and the media has coined the Hokies as the favorites. Historically, the Hokies play better as the underdogs. Also, the rainy weather and muddy conditions of the previous game inhibited Matt Ryan's ability to throw the ball accurately. Virginia Tech tends to lean more on the passing game too, but not like Boston College does with a quarterback like Ryan. The weather will inhibit Ryan far less on Saturday's match. Lastly, the Hokie style of play this season has been to get way ahead of their opponents early in the game to demoralize them while seeming to slack a little in the second half. With a quarterback of Ryan's abilities, being way out front on the scoreboard early isn't a sure thing for a victory. If the Hokies take that approach to this game, they could very well set up a similar ending as the previous game against the Eagles.

So here we are with all the makings of a great potential comeback. One thing is fairly certain, this game will be close into the fourth quarter. I expect a nail biter regardless of who wins.


ACC Championship Game
1:00 PM ET, December 1, 2007
Alltel Stadium , Jacksonville , FL
Broadcast on ABC and ESPN360

No comments: