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Preview: Virginia Tech Hokies vs the UNC Tar Heels

It’s Preview Time. Blacksburg is a buzz because it’s Homecoming, and Carolina is rolling into town to try to get something going in a positive direction. The Hokies want to see them fix their problems somewhere else. GO HOKIES!!!

Waiting for an evening game at Lane Stadium
John Schneider - SB Nation

It’s not a rivalry in the purest sense of the word, and if you look at the game history between the schools, it looks more like an occasional annual brawl punctuated by long periods of not paying much attention to each other. The schools met at a very steady, almost annual pace from the first game in 1895 until they took a break from the action between 1917 and 1928. Of course the game was very different in that era, and was evolving and changing dramatically during that generation. There was a small gaggle of encounters between 1928 and 1946, but nothing that constituted any sort of real competition between the two schools.

The pace of the encounters didn’t even get more hurried during the early Beamer Era, either. Really, the break between 1947 and 1997 was almost bizarre in the grander scheme of things. Why Carolina wasn’t a prime non-conference opponent for 50 years is really beyond me. Even during the Big East days, Carolina stayed in its comfortable founding ACC school box, and stayed south of the Dan River. Things change, and this “thing” certainly did some big time changing in 2004 when Tech, seemingly much to the chagrin of many ACC programs, stormed in with Miami. As we all know, North Carolina and Virginia Tech were loaded into the ACC Coastal Division. That has been more like an arranged marriage than any kind of rivalry. Tech leads the ACC series 10 games to 4.

A slightly greater than 2 to 1 win-loss ratio is normally a pretty good thing, but as we have seen over the last decade and a half, nothing is a sure bet, and certainly North Carolina has reached out to surprise the Hokies in critical runs. 2009 the Heels showed up at Lane on a Thursday evening for an Orange Effect game. I call that one the Pig Flu Bowl because most of the campus was down with either the regular flu, or an unusual outbreak of the swine flu. Either way everyone was ill, or the team looked like it was more interested in looking for the nearest comfortable spot to curl up and sleep, than play a football game.

We all remember 2012, or maybe we have forgotten it, because it was the first reminder after the high of the 2011 season, that Logan Thomas wasn’t the answer at QB. It also was a punctuation point on the start of a slide into mediocrity that culminated in the near disaster of a 27-30 overtime loss to the 12 ranked Tar Heels. Okay, we weren’t ranked at all, and struggled that season, but that loss sucked nearly all of the wind out of our sails, and we struggled mightily just to become bowl eligible. Let’s check the history from Hokie Sports:

Virginia Tech vs. UNC Tar Heels

Season Date Site Score (VT-Opp) Rank
Season Date Site Score (VT-Opp) Rank
2016 Oct 8, 2016 Chapel Hill W, 34-3 25/17
2015 Nov 21, 2015 Blacksburg L, 27-30 (OT) NR/12
2014 Oct 4, 2014 Chapel Hill W, 34-17 NR/NR
2013 Oct 5, 2013 Blacksburg W, 27-17 NR/NR
2012 Oct 6, 2012 Chapel Hill L, 34-48 NR/NR
2011 11/17/2011 Blacksburg W, 24-21 9/NR
2010 11/13/2010 Chapel Hill W, 26-10 16/NR
2009 10/29/2009 Blacksburg L, 17-20 14/NR
2008 9/20/2008 Chapel Hill W, 20-17 NR/NR
2007 9/29/2007 Blacksburg W, 17-10 17/NR
2006 9/9/2006 Chapel Hill W, 35-10 16/NR
2005 11/26/2005 Blacksburg6 W, 30-3 5/NR
2004 11/6/2004 Chapel Hill W, 27-24 18/NR
1997 1/1/1998 Jacksonville L, 3-42 NR/7
1946 9/28/1946 Chapel Hill T, 14-14 NA
1945 10/6/1945 Roanoke L, 0-14 NA
1939 10/7/1939 Norfolk L, 6-13 NA
1938 11/5/1938 Chapel Hill L, 0-7 NA
1930 10/4/1930 Blacksburg L, 21-39 NA
1929 10/26/1929 Chapel Hill L, 13-38 NA
1928 10/20/1928 Chapel Hill W, 16-14 NA
1916 11/4/1916 Roanoke W, 14-7 NA
1913 10/25/1913 Winston-Salem W, 14-7 NA
1912 10/26/1912 Raleigh W, 26-0 NA
1911 11/4/1911 Richmond T, 0-0 NA
1910 11/5/1910 Richmond W, 20-0 NA
1909 11/6/1909 Richmond W, 15-0 NA
1908 11/10/1908 Richmond W, 10-0 NA
1907 11/28/1907 Richmond W, 20-6 NA
1906 10/27/1906 Richmond T, 0-0 NA
1905 10/28/1905 Richmond W, 35-6 NA
1904 10/29/1904 Blacksburg L, 0-6 NA
1903 11/7/1903 Norfolk W, 21-0 NA
1902 10/25/1902 Roanoke T, 0-0 NA
1900 10/27/1900 Chapel Hill T, 0-0 NA
1898 11/4/1898 Winston-Salem L, 6-28 NA
1897 10/30/1897 Danville W, 4-0 NA
1896 10/24/1896 Danville T, 0-0 NA
1895 11/16/1895 Charlotte L, 5-32 NA
The history of the contest

Last season, with Mitch Trubisky at the helm, the rebuilding Hokies in the first season of the Fuente Era was supposed to be easy pickings for the streaking and nearly unstoppable Carolina offense and their stingy defense. There was also the little matter of the remnants of Hurricane Matthew to go along with Carolina’s #17 ranking. Tech, was ranked #25 at the time, and still had not convinced the media that they were worth the ranking. The rain soaked wind tossed contest wasn’t even close. The Hokies changed perceptions and gathered some serious momentum by trouncing the Tar Heels and getting some vengeance; 34-3

This year, there are more than a few different circumstances that will be tested after the kickoff at 3:30-ish on Saturday. The Virginia Tech Hokies are ranked #14 in both polls, but North Carolina doesn’t seem to have found any sort of offensive or defensive rhythm. Carolina has lost to almost every subpar team in the ACC, and managed only one win, out of conference for the 2017 season. Somehow, I do not think that Larry Fedora is going to just limp into Blacksburg and allow the Hokies to steamroll his football team. Early in the season Carolina was scoring points. The problem was that its defense wasn’t stopping the other guys’ offenses. Cal, Louisville, and ODU were all high offensive output efforts. The problem was that in the first two games the opponents scored more. ODU put up 23, but they are really just getting going as an FBS program so it’s not hard to see the reality of the situation, there. Here’s the rub, though, Duke, Georgia Tech, and Notre Dame all put up more than 26 points; and even a listless UVA offense managed 20 in what was probably the worst looking ACC game of the season.

Carolina’s Quarterback Chazz Surrat has managed to complete almost 59% of his passes for 1170 or so yards and on three picks. The problem is that the 6 touchdown pace is only one per game, and Carolina’s running back situation seems to operate in fits and starts. Their running backs are Michael Carter and Jordan Brown account for 700 yards on the ground, with Carter leading the team in 7 touchdowns on the ground. Surrat is also capable of the occasional run, and has ripped a few with 4 total touchdowns.

That means that Carolina’s offense is potentially problematic for a Hokie Defense that is still struggling with running quarterbacks. It’s the almost hapless UNC defense that will be the key to winning this game. And that’s where we’ll leave this one.

Virginia Tech is giving 22 points in this particular game. That means that the wise guys are seeing a chance for the Tech Offense to get the ball into the end zone more than a few times. The defense needs to figure out how to stuff the run, stop a very impressive Michael Carter, and limit the QB slashes to a bare minimum.

Yes, the Hokies should win this game, and handily, but we have three traps to watch for; a running QB, a wild card tailback who can get the ball up the field in a hurry, and the fact that we have Orange Jerseys to wear. I’d have preferred the white with chrome orange helmets. There just seems to be an Orange storm cloud that follows us around when that color is the dominant one in our jerseys.

We’ll see.


BTW: Congratulations to Oscar Bradburn for being awarded the #25 for the game.


Ok, the Wise Guys favor us by 22. Is that a good estimate?

This poll is closed

  • 22%
    Yes, Carolina is struggling and their defense is awful
    (30 votes)
  • 12%
    No, it’s going to be more. The Heel’s look like they are running in tar this season.
    (16 votes)
  • 28%
    Yes, but they will get on the board because we’ll start slow again.
    (38 votes)
  • 36%
    No, the game will be tighter than we expect. Carolina will have its collective back up.
    (49 votes)
133 votes total Vote Now