Tuneup for Hokies is Cavaliers' bowl game
Virginia Tech hopes to attend to what seems like a formality when it hosts Virginia in a game that will have no bearing on the No. 13 Hokies' postseason.
Because it's Virginia, though, the Hokies would relish extending their winning streak in the series to seven, and in the process cementing their status as the only Division I team to have won at least 10 games in each of the past seven seasons.
The game will be the last at Lane Stadium for 16 seniors, including quarterback Tyrod Taylor, and taking care of the Cavaliers one more time would give him a career sweep.
''That would feel good,'' Taylor said with a wide smile this week. ''Very good.''
The Hokies (9-2, 7-0 ACC) have won nine in a row this season since an 0-2 start, and could become the first team to finish the regular season unbeaten in ACC play since Florida State in 2000. They also still have next week's ACC championship and a bowl game to play.
First, though, senior Davon Morgan wants to ensure he finishes at home in style.
''This game means a lot, not only because it's UVA, but because it's the next one, and my last one in Lane,'' he said. ''Just the opportunity that I've had over these last four years, it's been great to be here. I'm gonna miss it and I'm gonna enjoy the last one for sure.''
For several years now, the Hokies have all enjoyed playing Virginia, so much so that first-year Cavaliers coach Mike London said the rivalry aspect of the series has been hurt.
''It's a rivalry because it's the last game of the year or because its your in-state team,'' said London, an assistant at Virginia in 2003, the last time the Cavaliers won. ''We recruit the same type of kids, but they have won the last several games.''
Virginia (4-7, 1-6) arrives on a three-game skid.
''This is our bowl game and that's how we're treating it,'' junior defensive tackle Nick Jenkins said, acknowledging that the Cavaliers are huge underdogs once again. ''I don't think many people have given us a chance in a lot of games. That's been a motivation all season.''
Virginia has not won at Lane Stadium since 1998, when George Welsh was its coach.
The Hokies preparation for next week's title game in Charlotte against North Carolina State or Florida State will probably involve getting tailback Ryan Williams more work. He missed 4 1/2 games with a torn hamstring, and has only seemed to be regaining his stride again.
Williams, a Manassas native, said the rivalry aspect means little to him, but he knows after a difficult season, the Cavaliers will be geared up to close on a high note.
''For them, I know this is going to be the highlight of the season if they come in here and leave with a win, so I know it's very big for them, and I know it's very big for us,'' Williams said. ''I'll just come out and do whatever I have to do to help the team win.''
It's that team-first mentality that makes Frank Beamer really like this year's Hokies.
''There's some things that can be special for this team, and that's what I like,'' he said, noting that the seniors, with 40 wins, could become the Hokies' most successful class ever.
''The toughest thing about this game is seeing 16 seniors run out into that stadium for the last time,'' he said. ''We're going to miss those guys, that's for sure.''