Game: Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech
When: 6:00 p.m.
Why it matters: In one of the craziest seasons the ACC has seen in recent memory, madness would ensue within the conference should the Jackets upset the Hokies. Before the season, prognosticators across America were pointing to this game as the best of the year in the conference.
After some early season struggles, including an embarrassing loss to Miami on national television, Georgia Tech is back on track and sits at 5-1 on the season. Last week, in a game that ended later than most of the west coast battles that night, the Jackets outscored Florida State 49-44 in Tallahassee.
They know that in order to gain respect throughout the country, they need to beat the fourth-ranked Hokies at home.
For the Hokies, it’s make-or-break time in Atlanta. If Frank Beamer’s team loses, they will fall into a three-way tie in the Coastal Division with Georgia Tech and Miami, and could very well be left out of the ACC and BCS equation come season’s end.
With a win, the Hokies will have another victory over a top-20 opponent, their third of the season, and would further boost their BCS resume. Ryan Williams and Tyrod Taylor are also both starting to gain serious ground in some award races as we hit the midpoint of the season.
Player to watch: Josh Nesbitt is plain and simple the key to this game. After looking dreadful in back-to-back Thursday night affairs in September, Nesbitt is now third in the ACC in rushing, and is finally throwing the ball accurately.
Although the Jackets have the league’s best rushing offense, they rely on the passing game to be successful. Contrary to popular belief, if the Jackets cannot stretch the field with the passing game, they are far less successful. Last season, the Hokies were able to barely escape their matchup with the Jackets after Roddy Jones dropped a couple of potential game-winning touchdown passes.
Bud Foster excellently prepared his defense for the option last year, and you can expect much of the same this Saturday. The fate of the Yellow Jackets rests on Nesbitt’s shoulders, more specifically his right shoulder.
Who has the edge?
Virginia Tech is as hot as any team in America, which is not good news for Paul Johnson’s team. The Hokies have always had a tough time with the Jackets in Atlanta, but have always left Bobby Dodd Stadium victorious since joining the ACC.
As previously mentioned, it will be tough sledding for Johnson’s option game, and you can bet the Hokie defense will be more prepared for the sneaky passes than it was a year ago.
Georgia Tech has a chance to win, but it’s a slim one. Its defense has been blasted for big plays in the running and passing game all season, which is not a good sign when the Hokies offense is just now catching fire.
Some people think Georgia Tech has what it takes to secure a huge home victory. Instead, this one might get away from the Jackets early.