|College Football Preview: Virginia Tech vs. Duke|
|Saturday, 13 October 2007 05:00|
Hokies Seek 5th Straight
Every win Virginia Tech records is making it easier for the Hokies to put a demoralizing early season loss behind them.
The 12th-ranked Hokies will try for their fifth straight victory on Saturday when they visit a Duke team that hasn't won an ACC game in nearly three years.
The Hokies (5-1, 2-0) were routed 48-7 by LSU, currently the No. 1 team in the country, in their second game of the season on Sept. 8. Virginia Tech surrendered its most points since 1996 in that game, but has outscored its next four opponents 130-43.
Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Virginia Tech -14 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Sautrday's game, the over/under has been set at 45.5 total points (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 80% of bets for this game have been placed on Virginia Tech -14 (View College Football bet percentages).
"You can't look back and dwell on the past, because you become frustrated and you won't progress," senior receiver Justin Harper said. "We looked at that game, we built off that game and now we're trying to run the table and go undefeated the rest of the way out."
The Hokies played their second ranked opponent last weekend, beating then-No. 22 Clemson 41-23 on the road. Victor "Macho" Harris tied a school record with a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, Eddie Royal took a punt back 82 yards for a score and safety D.J. Parker returned an interception 32 yards to the end zone.
The Hokies, who pride themselves on special teams play under coach Frank Beamer, had never had both a kickoff and punt returned for scores in the same game. They have 63 non-offensive touchdowns since 1999, the most in college football in that span.
"That's Beamer-ball," linebacker Vince Hall said. "That's what we needed."
Virginia Tech also held Clemson's vaunted rushing tandem of James Davis and C.J. Spiller to only 12 yards on 12 carries. The Hokies have allowed just 175 rushing yards during their winning streak, an average of 43.8 per game.
They allowed Clemson quarterback Cullen Harper to throw for 372 yards and two touchdowns, but intercepted him twice.
"It was a huge game," Royal said. "Coming down here, you knew it was going to be a hostile environment. You knew they were a great team. We just had to stick together and come together as a team."
Freshman Tyrod Taylor, who took over as quarterback during the loss to LSU and has started ever since, was limited to 65 yards and one touchdown on 7-of-14 passing but rushed for a career-best 118 yards. The passing touchdown was just his second of the season - he has three rushing - but he has only been intercepted once.
"You've just got to make plays and hang in there," Beamer told the Hokies' official Web site. "Offensively, I think we have the pieces, we just have to get this thing refined. This is a good win for this football team and I think it gives us some hope going forward."
The Hokies did get some bad news during the win, as Hall, who ranks fourth in the ACC with 10.2 tackles per game, broke his left wrist in a collision with teammate Xavier Adibi. Hall, who has started 44 straight games, is scheduled to undergo surgery and expected to miss four to six weeks.
With a win against the Blue Devils (1-5, 0-3), the Hokies can become bowl eligible for the 15th straight year. If history is any indication, they won't have much trouble earning the right to play a postseason game - Virginia Tech is 7-7 all-time against Duke, but has won the last six meetings and has not lost to the Blue Devils since 1981.
Duke, meanwhile, has not won an ACC game since a 16-13 home victory over Clemson on Nov. 13, 2004.
The Blue Devils are coming off last Saturday's 41-36 loss to Wake Forest. Thaddeus Lewis threw for four touchdowns - including two to Eron Riley - as Duke nearly rallied from a 25-point deficit.
"There's no quitting on this football team. Hopefully next week we can play the whole game with the intensity that we had today in the second half," Lewis said.
Lewis is tied with Boston College's Matt Ryan for first in the ACC with 15 touchdown passes, but has thrown seven interceptions. Riley has caught a conference-best seven of those TD passes and also leads the league with 90.7 receiving yards per game.
Duke has dropped three in a row since a 20-14 win at Northwestern on Sept. 15 that ended a 22-game losing streak.
"We have been close the last couple games, we just have to put it all together," Riley said. "One play here, one play there; that's going to be the difference in the game."
by: Staff Writers - Email Us
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