|Boston College eyes first ACC title|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 05 December 2008 13:57|
A year after the ACC championship game offered plenty of star appeal, the league is presenting an Eagles-Hokies rematch without national title implications or much else to get fans excited about buying tickets.
Make no mistake about it, though. No. 18 Boston College (9-3) and defending champ Virginia Tech (8-4) are excited about the opportunity face each other again with the Orange Bowl on the line after retooling and overcoming injuries to finish strong.
``Last year we were really happy to be in this game,'' Boston College coach Jeff Jagodzinski said Friday. ``This year, they're not just happy to be here. They want to take it one step further and go and win this one.''
Ryan was the third pick in the NFL draft and has helped transform the Atlanta Falcons into one of pro football's biggest surprises this season.
Tech lost 13 players, including receiver Eddie Royal and cornerback Brandon Flowers, who were either drafted or wound up in NFL camps as free agents. In fact, more than half the roster that made the trip to Tampa was not in Jacksonville a year ago.
``We don't have a lot of name guys, but we have a lot of hard-working guys,'' Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said.
Beamer conceded his team is fortunate to be in a position to win its third title since moving from the Big East to the ACC five years ago, especially after losing to Boston College, Florida State and Miami within a four-game span to hurt its chances of winning the Coastal Division.
Boston College's road was even more difficult. After consecutive losses to North Carolina and Clemson threatened to knock them out of the race, the Eagles righted themselves with a 17-0 shutout of Notre Dame and beat Florida State, Wake Forest and Maryland down the stretch to win the Atlantic Division.
BC, which left the Big East in 2005, has never won an outright conference title in either league. The best the Eagles have done was a four-way tie for the Big East championship in 2004 - the year Virginia Tech left that league and won its first ACC crown.
ther key players, including Ryan's injured replacement Chris Crane, Jagodzinski insists he isn't surprised the Eagles are back in the title game.
``I'm saying that with all sincerity, just because of the makeup of the type of guys I have,'' the second-year coach said. ``Our team this year, it doesn't matter who is playing, it didn't matter who got the credit, it was the most unselfish football team I've ever been around.''
Crane, a fifth-year senior who beat Virginia Tech 28-23 on Oct. 18, broke his right collarbone two weeks ago at Wake Forest, forcing Jagodzinski to turn to redshirt freshman Dominique Davis.
Davis struggled early, but retained his composure and directed a game-winning drive in the closing minutes of 24-21 victory. Then he beat Maryland 28-21 in his first college start to clinch BC's trip to Tampa, about 30 miles west of the quarterback's hometown of Lakeland.
``Last year, we had some marquee name guys, Matt Ryan being one. ... All of those guys were replaced with the next guy,'' Jagodzinski said.
``That's exactly what happened to our quarterback situation. The first meeting we had, I said, `Matt's not here, Chris this is your turn to go play. Now, it's Dominique's turn to go play.''
Beamer, of course, is hoping the Hokies can spoil his homecoming.
``He's a very athletic guy and has got a good arm on him, too,'' said Beamer who was impressed when he saw the freshman play against Maryland in a game with the division title at stake.
``He got in there, making his first start, and it looked to me like he was in control. Didn't look jittery. Looked like he kind of liked it. That's what the good ones do. They like that situation.''