Normally a midseason ACC marquee game, the No. 20 Virginia Tech Hokies will instead help kick off the 2012 College Football betting season in Blacksburg, by battling bitter rival Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on Labor Day.
The Hokies (No.10) got the better of the Yellow Jackets in last year’s meeting, eliminating Georgia Tech (No. 21 BCS, No. 20 AP) from the Atlantic Coast Conference race with a 37-26 victory, while clearing their own path to the ACC championship game.
Towering quarterback, Logan Thomas proved to be too much for Georgia Tech to handle in that one, and frustration would eventually boil over late in the third quarter, when linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu took a swing at Thomas after he refused to go down following a sack.
Attaochu was flagged for a personal foul for his actions, allowing VT to keep the ball and score, ultimately altering the outcome of the game, and setting up what should be an interesting first meeting since that mêlée between the two schools.
And there is little doubt that Georgia Tech will be looking to settle the score when they roll into to Lane Stadium with nearly 15 starters from last year’s squad, including Attaochu. The bitter taste still on the lips of a team that saw its entire season unravel at the end in a game that most believe was theirs to be won.
Think of this. Had G-Tech prevailed, they would have played Clemson for the ACC title, and the Jackets had already beaten Clemson once. That’s gotta sting.
Nevertheless, the Jackets will need to channel that resentment, as they will have their hands full of Thomas, who returns to the field again this season, with a little more experience, but minus four offensive linemen, two wide receivers and tailback David Wilson.
Throw in the fact that Virginia Tech is a notoriously slow starter, losing their openers in 2008 to East Carolina, 2009 to Alabama, and 2010 to Boise State, and Georgia Tech could yield the benefits of playing its biggest division rival, so soon on the schedule.
Still, the Yellow Jackets will need to find ways to beat a Hokies defense that retain eight of its starters, including linebacker Bruce Taylor. They will rely on three of the team’s top rushers from 2011, which should bode well for its triple-option offense, all starting with quarterback Tevin Washington, who ran for 987 yards and 14 touchdowns last season.
Matt’s Prediction: Georgia Tech 28 – Virginia Tech 21
Georgia Tech will arrive in Blacksburg with a point to prove, and much like last season, Virginia Tech, at least in the post-Vick days, has never been very impressive on offense.
Last year the Hokies got lucky, and were able to take advantage of a bad situation. So, if the Jackets can avoid an emotional meltdown, score early and build momentum, I expect VT to find themselves trailing 14-0, before they realize that they’re in a game, too late to make another miracle comeback.