ACC Title Game Preview
Unlike a year ago, this matchup was unexpected.
The 18th-ranked Eagles look to win their first ACC title and earn their first trip to a BCS bowl game on Saturday in Tampa when they face the Hokies, who are seeking their second straight conference championship.
Oddsmakers from online sports book Sportsbook.com have made Boston College -1 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 69% of bets for this game have been placed on Boston College -1 (View College Football bet percentages).
Last season, quarterback Matt Ryan led Boston College (9-3, 5-3) to 11 wins, tying the 1940 school record, and a No. 10 ranking in the final AP poll - its highest ranking to end a season since it finished No. 4 in 1984. Ryan led the Eagles to a comeback win over Virginia Tech (8-4, 5-3) in the regular season, but the Hokies avenged that defeat with a 30-16 victory in the league championship - their second straight ACC title.
After Ryan was selected third overall by the Atlanta Falcons in this year's NFL draft, the Eagles were picked to finish fourth in the ACC's Atlantic Division.
Boston College lost its conference opener to Georgia Tech, but went on to win eight of its next 10 games and claimed its second straight division title with a 28-21 victory over Maryland last Saturday.
"Everything that we do and the way that we do it is geared towards the championship," Eagles coach Jeff Jagodzinski said. "No one said we could do it except the kids on the field. That's the best part of coaching: getting your guys to believe in it."
Virginia Tech, meanwhile, lost seven defensive starters, its top four wide receivers and a former All-ACC tailback from the 2007 team, but still opened the season ranked 17th and was picked to win the Coastal Division.
The Hokies' expectations were quickly tempered, however, after they were upset by East Carolina 27-22 in the season opener.
Virginia Tech bounced back to win its next five games, but then lost three of its next four. It needed to win its final two games and have both Miami and Georgia Tech lose once to get back in the picture. Everything managed to fall into place for the Hokies, who defeated Virginia 17-14 last Saturday to reach this game.
"We all prepared ourselves for the season. It hasn't gone the way we wanted and it wasn't as smooth as we thought it would be, but we're here,'' center Ryan Shuman said, "and we have a chance.''
For the second straight season, the Hokies will be looking to avenge a regular-season loss to Boston College.
The Eagles defeated Virginia Tech 28-23 on Oct. 18, but it wasn't easy. Boston College turned the ball over five times, as the Hokies returned two interceptions for touchdowns.
Defense is a big reason why both Boston College and Virginia Tech have made it this far.
The Hokies rank sixth in the Football Bowl Subdivision in total defense (274.5 yards per game), while Boston College is eighth (276.7 ypg).
"There's no question, when you get into championship games, ... you would think it would be two teams that are fairly close to each other in terms of abilities," Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said.
Virginia Tech was limited to a season-low 240 total yards in the October loss to Boston College, as running backs Darren Evans and Josh Oglesby managed only 40 yards on 23 carries.
The Eagles, who rank seventh in the FBS in rush defense (87.3 ypg), limited the Terrapins to minus-six running yards on 26 attempts last week. Defensive tackles B.J. Raji, an All-ACC first team selection, and Ron Brace, an second-team all-conference selection, lead the run-stopping unit.
Hokies quarterback Tyrod Taylor threw for just 90 yards in the loss to Boston College, but managed to keep Virginia Tech in the game with his scrambling ability, gaining 110 yards on the ground. He rushed for a career-high 137 yards in last week's win over Virginia.
Boston College's offense seemed to take a hit when quarterback Chris Crane broke his collarbone in the Eagles' win over Wake Forest on Nov. 22, but redshirt freshman Dominique Davis did a solid job as his replacement, completing 12 of 24 passes for 134 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions last week.
"It's been very gratifying to have a team and not having to count on just one guy," Jagodzinski said. "This is actually the best team chemistry I think I've ever been around. They count on each other, and I think that's what being a team is all about."
Top Betting Trends:
All games in this series since 1992
BOSTON COLLEGE is 11-5 against the spread versus VIRGINIA TECH since 1992
VIRGINIA TECH is 10-6 straight up against BOSTON COLLEGE since 1992
6 of 12 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games over the last 3 seasons
BOSTON COLLEGE is 3-1 against the spread versus VIRGINIA TECH over the last 3 seasons
BOSTON COLLEGE is 3-1 straight up against VIRGINIA TECH over the last 3 seasons
3 of 4 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
Key Player Injuries
[WR] Clarence Megwa expected to miss the rest of the season. - Leg - 11/03
[FB] James McCluskey is expected to miss remainder of the season. - Fibula
[WR] Dominick Magazu has transferred - None - 08/31/08
[PK] Billy Bennett has been suspended indefinitely - Suspension - 10/30/08
[DL] Alex Albright out for the season - Neck - 09/15/08
[LB] Brian Toal out for season - Ankle - 10/19/08
[RB] Ryan Williams will redshirt. - None - 09/17/08
[WR] Zach Luckett is out indefinitely - Suspension - 09/08/08
[WR] Ike Whitaker is out indefinitely. - Suspension - 10/02/08
[WR] Brandon Dillard expected to miss entire season - ACL - 07/17/08
[SS] Davon Morgan is expected to miss the rest of the season. - Knee - 09/
[FS] Ron Cooper is expected to miss the season. - ACL - 08/11/08
[LB] Bruce Taylor likely to miss the rest of the season. - Shoulder - 10/0
[WR] Xavier Boyce is expected to miss the rest of the season. - Knee - 10/
[RB] Kenny Lewis out for the season - Ankle - 10/04/08
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Posted: 12/2/08 9:22 PM ET