Top 25 Matchup: #14 Wake Forest at #19 Virginia Tech
The 14th-ranked Demon Deacons have a chance for more of both Saturday when they host No. 19 Virginia Tech in a matchup of two of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s hottest teams.
Each team has a four-game winning streak, and Wake Forest (9-1, 5-1) is in pursuit of a spot in the ACC Championship game against Georgia Tech on Dec. 2.
A win over Virginia Tech, and at Maryland on Nov. 25, will secure a spot in the title game for the Demon Deacons.
Virginia Tech, however, can finish no better than second to Georgia Tech in the conference’s Coastal Division.
The Demon Deacons, who are tied with Maryland atop the Atlantic Division, are coming off one of the biggest wins in the program’s history. Wake Forest’s 30-0 win last Saturday over host Florida State marked the first time the Deacons had won there since 1959, and the first home shutout loss for the Seminoles in coach Bobby Bowden’s 31 years there.
While Florida State has struggled this season, the win brought more respect to a Wake Forest program that last had a winning season in 2002.
“Week in and week out, no matter what our record is, nobody believes we’re going to win,” Wake Forest quarterback Riley Skinner said. “We have to prove ourselves.”
Wake Forest scored 17 points off three Florida State turnovers, including Kevin Patterson’s 48-yard interception return for a score in the third quarter. The Demon Deacons also held Florida State to a season-low 139 yards and allowed only one third-down conversion.
“These guys have been through a lot and I’m happy they’re winning some games,” Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe said. “I thought we’d be in a nail-biter. That was nice.”
Led by freshman quarterback Skinner, the ACC’s leader in completion percentage (68.6) and a defense that has not allowed a point in five quarters, Wake Forest is trying for its first 10-win season in school history and its first win over Virginia Tech since a 13-6 victory Sept. 10, 1983.
“They are a really physical football team,” Grobe said of the Hokies. “They are really talented. They are a well-rounded football team.”
Virginia Tech (8-2, 4-2) has not lost since a 22-3 defeat Oct. 12 at Boston College. The Hokies also posted a shutout, 23-0 over Kent State in a non-conference game last Saturday. It was Virginia Tech’s third shutout of the season.
The Hokies have limited seven opponents to 10 points or fewer and allowed 300 yards of total offense just once – 325 in a 38-27 loss Sept. 30 to Georgia Tech – this season. They held Kent State to 182 total yards last Saturday.
Virginia Tech leads the ACC in scoring defense (10.6 points per game), total defense (228.4 yards per game) and pass defense (127.7). The Hokies also scored their fourth defensive touchdown last Saturday when senior defensive end Noland Burchette returned a fumble 15 yards.
“Right place, right time,” Burchette said. “Coach is always saying if you play hard and go to the ball, good things will happen.”
The Hokies have one of the nation’s best kickers in senior Brandon Pace. Pace, a three-time Lou Groza Award semifinalist, made three more field goals last Saturday to increase his streak to a school-record 19. He hasn’t missed since going 3-for-4 in a 30-10 win over Boston College on Oct. 27, 2005.
“He’s solid as a rock,” coach Frank Beamer said. “He gets into the ball very quickly and he gets it up very quickly. Those are two great assets.”
After consecutive games of rushing for more than 200 yards, running back Branden Ore has failed to reach 100 in his last two, but has rushed for 1,090 yards and 14 touchdowns this season.
This will be the 34th meeting between the two teams. Virginia Tech leads the series 21-11-1 and has won the last two games, including a 17-10 win at Wake Forest in the most recent meeting Oct. 9, 2004.
by: Anthony White – theSpread.com – Email Us
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