Since the conference split into two divisions, the two Tech’s are the only schools that have represented the coastal division in the ACC Championship game. Last year, a 6-6 Georgia Tech team backed their way into the title game thanks to North Carolina and Miami being on some form of probation.
However, between the years 2005-2011, the winner of this game has gone on to win the coastal division and represent the division in the title game. This year, Miami looks to be a major player in the coastal, and Georgia Tech already has two wins against division foes in Duke and North Carolina. Virginia Tech only beat an East Carolina team by five points two weeks ago, and then last week needed overtime to beat Marshall.
The Hokies’ offense does not look strong this season, but their defense might be the best in the country.
It is no secret that Georgia Tech likes to run the football with their triple-option attack. Paul Johnson is a mad scientist when it comes to running the option, and he now has a quarterback that can throw the ball consistently. Vad Lee is off to a great start for the Yellow Jackets this season as he has thrown seven touchdowns, which is more than Clemson‘s Tajh Boyd has passed for.
He does a good job of protecting the ball too, as he has only thrown one interception. The Georgia Tech offense is more dangerous now with Lee’s ability to throw, but when we get down to the meat of it, Johnson still wants to pound the football on the ground.
The Jackets have rushed for over 300 yards in each of their first three games. Last week, they ran all over UNC, finishing with 324 yards on the ground. The Tar Heels can never seem to slow this GT offense down, but Virginia Tech might be able to.
The Hokies might have the best defense in the entire country, but they get overlooked because of their struggles on offense. The Hokies’ defense held Alabama to just 96 rushing yards in their 35-10 Week 1 loss. That game should have been a lot closer, but the Hokies gave up two special teams touchdowns and Logan Thomas threw a pick-6.
The Hokies’ stout run defense followed up their opening week performance with three more stellar games in which they surrendered 111 rush yards to Western Carolina, 46 to East Carolina and 133 to Marshall. It will be a fun chess match between Johnson and Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster. It will be a game of adjustments, but the running game will be the deciding factor in this game.
The Hokies are going to have to get back to Beamer Ball (non-offensive touchdowns), because their starting quarterback has struggled this year and has more interceptions than touchdown passes.
Something’s got to give in this Thursday night showdown. Will the Yellow Jackets be able to run through that active rush defense of Virginia Tech? Or will the Hokies’ defense rise up and force the Jackets to pass more than they want to? We will get our answers on Thursday night in Atlanta.
Travis Patterson, Writer for ACC Rantsports.com. Follow on Twitter @tpat20. https://twitter.com/tpat20