|Virginia, No. 24 FSU collide in ACC showdown|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 24 October 2008 10:15|
Saturday's game may not rival those the two schools played for the 1999 national championship or the inaugural Atlantic Coast Conference title in 2005, but the winner maintains a strong position for a place in the league's title game Dec. 6.
``This is a must-win game,'' Seminole defensive tackle Kendrick Stewart said. ``We've got to come out on top.''
Bowden's 24th-ranked Seminoles (5-1, 2-1 ACC) lead the alltime series 21-11-1 after the Hokies snapped their winless streak dating to 1975 with a 40-21 win last year in Blacksburg, Va.
the two met in Tallahassee, the Seminoles rallied from a 21-3 deficit for a 39-28 win in 1990. Current Florida State receivers coach Lawrence Dawsey caught 7 passes for 137 yards in a game highlighted by eight interceptions.
Turnovers could be a major factor again Saturday.
Virginia Tech (5-2, 2-1) leads the nation with 19 takeaways. Florida State has lost the ball five more times than the Seminoles have taken it from opponents.
``The biggest stat they've got that can win a ball game quicker than any other thing is turnovers,'' Bowden said. ``Turning the ball over would be very big in this game.''
Special teams have always been important in this rivalry.
The Seminoles scored on a punt return and a blocked punt in the 46-29 victory that sealed the school's lone undefeated season in 1999. Willie Reid's punt return for a touchdown sparked Florida State's upset win in the first ACC title game three years ago.
The Hokies intercepted Christian Ponder twice, returning one for a touchdown, and he fumbled once as Virginia Tech nailed down a fourth quarter comeback win on its way to the ACC title last year.
And both have talented special teams athletes again.
The Seminoles boast the nation's top kick returner in Michael Ray Garvin, who is averaging 33.4 yards a return, and neither coach is likely to pass up a field goal try for a win.
ly with 14 field goals and had game-winning kicks against Georgia Tech and North Carolina. Florida State's Graham Gano has made 10 straight field goals, including three of more than 50 yards.
Keys, a 22-year-old graduate student, waited five years to get his chance to kick while Gano, who missed the first two games of the season with a knee injury, had been behind Gary Cismesia for three seasons.
Bowden's 378 victories is second all-time among major college coaches, two behind Penn State's Joe Paterno. Beamer has 214 wins, fourth among active coaches.
Seven ACC schools have just one loss, so Saturday stacks up big in a conference Florida State once dominated but now is just trying to regain its lost prominence.
And Virginia Tech may be the Seminoles' biggest challenge to date.
``We have to prove we belong there,'' Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder said.