Boston College and Virginia Tech are looking to remain in the Atlantic Coast Conference divisional races when the teams meet on Saturday.
The No. 24 Eagles need a victory to set themselves up for a huge showdown with second-ranked Clemson for Atlantic Division supremacy. And the Hokies are trying to keep pace in the loss column with front-running Virginia for the top spot in the Coastal Division.
The Hokies (4-3, 3-1 ACC) have dominated in the series of late, winning the last three matchups. Under coach Justin Fuente, they've outscored BC 72-10 in the last two games.
But the Eagles (6-2, 3-1 ACC, No. 24 CFB) enter this latest matchup with of the ACC's top running backs in A.J. Dillon, who averages 133.5 yards per game. It will be a challenge for Virginia Tech, which lost essentially nine starters off last year's team and allowed 465 rushing yards and no passing yards in a 49-28 to Georgia Tech on ??.
Defensive coordinator Bud Foster hopes his unit is ready.
"Right now, with this group, like I've said the best teacher is experience," he said. "Unfortunately, they're learning on the job right now. The one thing we have to do is roll our sleeves up every day and come to work every day, because understanding that the preparation and trusting the process is ultimately going to determine the end result. That's the one thing with young kids: understanding that, buying into that, believing that and then seeing that."
Boston College coach Steve Adazzio believes the ground game will be a huge deciding factor.
"We've got to be able to really establish a good run game," he said. "You go on the road, you've got to pack your run game, you've got to pack your defense, and you've got to be able to sustain and withstand the home team force. We need to have a really strong week of preparation. We need to get our team feeling good and healthy. We came out of a very physical football game last weekend, and then march on and get ready to get win No. 7."
Here are some other things to watch when Boston College visits Virginia Tech:
The Hokies have rarely been worse defensively than they were against Georgia Tech, and have had a few extra days to prepare for a power ground game vs. the Yellow Jackets' triple option. But while inexperience is inexperience, Bud Foster's crew has generally been stronger when playing a more conventional offense.
The Hokies and Eagles are rivals from their Big East days, and BC claimed one of its more notable victories in Lane Stadium. On Oct. 25, 2007, Matt Ryan led a fourth quarter comeback with 14 unanswered points as the third-ranked Eagles defeated the 11th-ranked Hokies 14-10.
The Eagles boast DE Wyatt Ray, tied for third nationally with nine sacks, and CB Hemp Cheevers, tied for second nationally with five interceptions. Virginia Tech is led by DL Ricky Walker and DB Reggie Floyd, but the rest of the unit is among Bud Foster's youngest since becoming the defensive coordinator in 1995.
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Boston College's offense is headed up by offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler, who was the OC under former head coach Frank Beamer from 2013-15. The Eagles' defense is led by Jim Reid, who was the defensive coordinator at Virginia under Mike London from 2010-12.
The Hokies were expected to contend for the ACC's Coastal Division title, and they are at 3-1 in league play. They also have three of their last four games at home. The Eagles are a surprise contender in the Atlantic Division and play a rugged Big East style that is unlike most of the more finessed approaches in the ACC.
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