BOSTON (AP) — It wasn’t so long ago that Boston College and Virginia Tech built a rivalry — first in the Big East and then in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
With quarterbacks like Michael Vick, Matt Ryan and Tyrod Taylor, the schools played some classic thrillers and met in back-to-back ACC championship games in 2007 and ’08. Since then, both programs have struggled, and only one has managed to turn things around.
Virginia Tech is ranked No. 16 in The Associated Press Top 25, falling four spots after a loss to No. 2 and defending national champion Clemson. The Hokies (4-1, 0-1 ACC) will try to bounce back against BC (2-3, 0-2), a team they beat 49-0 last year in the biggest blowout in the history of the matchup.
“You kind of find out a little bit about yourself when you have a setback, a little bit of adversity, and our kids have always responded to that situation,” Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster said this week. “And we’re going to have to this week, because we’ve got a team in BC that probably feels like they have to win.”
The Clemson loss left the defending Coastal Division champions looking up in the standings at four schools. The Hokies could still return to the ACC title game if they win out, but another loss could be devastating to those hopes.
“When you start getting into conference play, every game is a playoff game,” Foster said. “It’s always been a tough environment for us to go up there and play, and it’s going to be on a Saturday night and they’ll have had a full day to get ready and rock ‘n’ roll. So we’re going to have to get ready to go play a heck of a football game.”
Here are some other things to look for in Saturday night’s game between BC and Virginia Tech.
READING BETWEEN THE LINES?
Steve Addazio has a 26-30 record at BC, including a 2015 season in which the Eagles failed to win a single ACC game. A signature victory over a ranked team could help him convince new athletic director Martin Jarmond to keep him around.
Addazio made a not-so-subtle case to stay this week when he turned a question about the Virginia Tech rivalry into an ode to former Hokies coach Frank Beamer.
“They were on their last legs. And they hung in there with them, and he was able to build it and turn it around,” Addazio said. “And he would tell you that, that they hung in there with him and gave him an opportunity to recruit it and hang in there and build. And they got over the hump.”
Boston College arrived at Lane Stadium last season with the nation’s third-stingiest defense, allowing just 180 yards per game. But Jerod Evans threw five touchdown passes, and the Hokies racked up 476 total yards.
“We went down there in a pretty hostile environment, and we got beat. A lot of people got beat,” Addazio said. “Our goal is to learn from our mistakes. But dwell on them? No.”
Josh Jackson is a dual threat at quarterback for the Hokies and may use his feet more against the Eagles’ highly ranked pass defense. Since running for 101 yards in the Hokies’ opener against No. 23 West Virginia, Jackson has added just 56 more rushing yards in the last four games.
The Eagles are fourth nationally in pass defense efficiency and 12th in the country in passing yards allowed per game. But they have allowed 29 points per game, 12th in the ACC alone.
With the loss to Clemson, the Hokies are behind Georgia Tech (2-0 in the ACC) and No. 13 Miami (1-0) in the division. Virginia Tech plays both on the road this season.