Both Techs again eyeing ACC division title

When the Techs get together, there’s usually a division title on

the line.

No difference this year.

No. 10 Virginia Tech controls its fate in the Atlantic Coast

Conference, while No. 20 Georgia Tech is in good shape though still

needing a bit of help to get to the championship game.

But this much is clear: The winner of Thursday night’s game in

Atlanta will take a major step toward claiming the Coastal Division


”You definitely have a leg up,” said Georgia Tech running back

Roddy Jones. ”In order to have that conversation, we have to win.

So we’re approaching this as the biggest game of the year. It’s

kind of like our championship game.”

That’s the way it’s been ever since the ACC split into a pair of

six-team divisions in 2005. The team that comes out on top in this

contest has gone on to win the division every time, with Virginia

Tech taking four titles, Georgia Tech the other two.

The Hokies (8-1, 4-1 ACC) merely need to win out to take the

crown and earn a spot in the Dec. 3 ACC championship game at

Charlotte, N.C. The Yellow Jackets (7-2, 4-2) have to win their

final two conference games and get a little assistance – Virginia

would have to lose one more time in a tough closing stretch that

includes a trip to Florida State and the traditional season finale

against its state rival.

At the moment, the Hokies are the only team that matters to

Georgia Tech.

”Virginia Tech is always a great team,” Jones said. ”Anytime

you want to win the Coastal Division, you know you’re going to have

a battle against them.”

Even before the season opener, Jones and his teammates took note

of that prime-time contest late in the year.

”When we saw VT in November, we wanted to be in position where

it was a big game and it mattered. It does,” Jones said. ”It’s an

elimination game. People want a playoff. Well, we’re kind of in a

playoff format right now.”

While the home team normally has a big edge, leaving Blacksburg

hasn’t been much of a problem for the Hokies. They’ve won 11

straight road games – an ACC record, as well as the longest current

streak in the nation. Plus, this is the time of year when Virginia

Tech normally shines, going 24-2 in November since 2004.

”We want to finish out strong,” Hokies offensive tackle Blake

DeChristopher said.

Georgia Tech comes in with the ACC’s best rushing attack,

averaging 328 yards per game out of a triple-option scheme that’s a

throwback to the wishbone of the 1970s. While the Yellow Jackets

usually line up only guy behind quarterback Tevin Washington, they

have two other de facto running backs that play out of the slots,

ready to block or swing around to take a pitch.

Actually, Washington has done the majority of the running

himself, leading the team in both carries (168) and yards (639) and

tied with Orwin Smith for rushing touchdowns (10 apiece). While

defenses generally prefer for the junior to keep the ball rather

than get it outside to speedier B-backs such as Jones or Smith

(who’s averaging 11.3 yard per attempt), that strategy backfired on


In Georgia Tech’s last game, Washington ran for 176 yards – the

most in school history by a quarterback – and broke off the two

longest gains of his career in a 31-17 upset of the then-unbeaten


”You need to be able to move the ball and keep the ball away

from them, but you’ve got to get some points,” Virginia Tech coach

Frank Beamer said. ”If you can ever get them behind, you’ve got an

advantage there. But it’s a tough outfit to play one time a year

and try to prepare for it and get your kids where they need to


Virginia Tech has certainly been stingy on the defensive side,

allowing the fewest points (15.4 a game) and the second-fewest

yards rushing (86.3) in the ACC. But the option presents plenty of

unique challenges in an era when teams are used to facing the

spread or pro-style passing offenses.

”They make you be very exact,” Beamer said. ”It happens very

fast and very quick and if you’ve got a wrong step in there,

they’ve probably got you.”

The Hokies will try to control the clock with an offense built

around first-year starting quarterback Logan Thomas and junior

running back David Wilson, who’s ripped off six straight 100-yard

games – the longest streak in Beamer’s quarter-century as


A bit undersized in its 3-4 scheme, Georgia Tech has been

vulnerable against a power running game. In an upset loss to

Virginia – a game that could come back to haunt the Yellow Jackets

in a tiebreaker situation – the defense surrendered 272 yards on

the ground. Overall, they rank eighth in the conference against the


Wilson will try to take advantage.

”With David, the sky’s the limit,” DeChristopher said. ”Any

game is an opportunity for him to break out, but he’s been having

100-plus games for us. As an offensive lineman, that’s definitely a

win for us. We just like seeing that. So I’m sure he’ll finish off

the year strong.”

Washington also is looking for a strong finish.

Last year, he got the first significant playing time against the

Hokies after Joshua Nesbitt was injured. Washington guided the

Yellow Jackets to a game-tying touchdown with 2 1/2 minutes left,

but Wilson returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown that gave

Virginia Tech a 28-21 victory.

While Washington still smarts over that loss, Jones believes the

experience helped to speed the learning curve. When Washington took

over the starting job this season, he was ready.

”He got put into probably the toughest situation you can last

year,” Jones said. ”But he’s done a great job of running the

offense and really becoming the driving force for this offense.

He’s done a great job of taking it by the horns and being the

leader we knew he could be.”

AP Sports Writer Hank Kurz in Richmond, Va., contributed to this


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