Seating: Virginia Tech will be on the South half of the Georgia Dome and Alabama fans will be on the North half (the Georgia Dome field is East-West oriented). Chart.
Virginia Tech sections: 101-105, 126-140, 201-208, 235-252, 301-308, 335-352
Alabama sections: 106-125, 209-234, 309-334
Trends: The Hokies have won four consecutive games entering the 2009 season ... Alabama has lost two consecutive games entering the 2009 season ... the Hokies allowed 17 touchdowns in their first eight games in 2008 and six touchdowns in their final six games ... Virginia Tech is 4-2 in season openers since joining the ACC in 2004 ... Alabama has won its last seven season openers ... the Crimson Tide's last season-opening loss was 20-17 to UCLA in 2001.
History Lesson: This is the 12th meeting between the Hokies and Crimson Tide ... Alabama holds an 10-1 record against Virginia Tech ... the Hokies won the last meeting in the 1998 Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tenn., 38-7 ... this is the fourth time the Hokies and Tide have met on a neutral field ... this is the third time the two teams have met to open the season ... the last time they met in a season opener was 1969 in Blacksburg. (Find more on the series history at Roll Bama Roll.)
What to Expect
- Expect to see mirror images. The two teams are very similar. Both the Hokies and Crimson Tide win thanks to stout defense and ball-control offense.
- Expect the Hokies to have trouble running the ball between the tackles against Terrence Cody and Alabama's front seven. Even though the Hokies have historically had success against a 3-4 defense (/looks at UVa), they haven't seen players like ones Alabama has.
- Expect the Hokies to have some success getting pressure on Greg McElroy. Virginia Tech excels at getting pressure on the quarterback with its front four. Fortunately for the Hokies, the Crimson Tide are breaking in new offensive linemen and a new quarterback. Unfortunately for the Hokies, McElroy appears to be a good game manager and decision-maker. He'll have to get rid of the ball quickly but I expect him to make the right decision when he does. For the Hokies to have a chance, defensive end Jason Worilds has to have a helluva game.
- Expect Julio Jones to be a difference maker. Alabama has the one thing the Hokies lack on offense: A deep threat at wide receiver. Stephan Virgil was impressive for Virginia Tech last year as the field cornerback. However, he is moving to the boundary this year, meaning he'll have to play more man coverage.
- Expect the Hokies to lose if Tyrod Taylor is forced to win the game. Not because Tyrod is incapable of taking the team on his shoulders, but because the Hokies aren't having success with their offensive game plan if he is.
Hokies win if: They are able to get pressure on the quarterback ... they force turnovers ... they turn those turnovers into points ... they not turn the ball over ... they aren't intimidated by the Tide like another ACC team was last season.
Crimson Tide win if: They play remotely like they did against Clemson in last year's opener.
Dot-dot-dots: Virginia Tech is 0-1 all-time in the Georgia Dome, having lost the 2006 Peach Bowl against Georgia ... Alabama is 2-3 all-time in the Georgia Dome, including a win in last year's Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game ... Virginia Tech is 4-7 in neutral site games since joining the ACC in 2004 ... the Hokies led the ACC in sacks during league play (27) and had the most sacks against in league play (26) in 2008 ... Alabama opponents gained over 100 yards rushing three times in 14 games in 2008 and averaged over 4.0 ypc twice ... something's gotta give ... the Hokies and Tide both ran over 900 plays in 2008 thanks to stout defenses and ball-control offenses ... the Crimson Tide ran 902 plays to lead the SEC and Virginia Tech ran 936, second-most in the ACC behind Boston College.