Virginia-Virginia Tech game is matter of ‘hot’ vs. ‘not’
Virginia and Virginia Tech reach the regular-season finish line heading in opposite directions.
The Cavaliers (5-4, 4-4 ACC) are riding a four-game winning streak and haven’t lost since Oct. 24 entering Saturday night’s Commonwealth Cup clash in Blacksburg, Va. The host Hokies (4-6, 4-5) are on a four-game losing streak and haven’t won since Oct. 31.
Virginia’s offense has averaged 43.3 points and 463.3 yards during the hot streak. Virginia Tech’s defense has given up 38.8 points and 460.3 yards during its cold snap.
While the Cavaliers are looking for their first five-game winning streak since 2007, the Hokies will end with a losing record for only the second time since 1992.
“Wrapping it up with this final win, and at Blacksburg, would just add more to the story of the team,” Virginia safety Joey Blount said Monday. “It’s going to be a hell of a game, for sure.”
This contest — the 102nd meeting in a series dating back to 1895 — was originally scheduled for Sept. 19 before COVID-19 issues in the Hokies’ program forced the postponement to the end of the calendar. Virginia Tech owns a 58-38-5 lead in the rivalry, including 24-9-1 at home.
The Cavaliers snapped a 15-game losing streak to the Hokies with a 39-30 win last season in Charlottesville. Virginia scored nine points in the final 1:23 with a 48-yard field goal by Brian Delaney and Eli Hanback’s recovery of a Virginia Tech fumble in the end zone.
“Breaking that streak last year was a pivotal point in the (program’s) culture and what we are trying to do at UVA,” Blount said. “I hope it’s a snowball effect, where it just keeps going and going and going and trending the right way.”
Virginia quarterback Brennan Armstrong is facing Virginia Tech for the first time, and he’s coming in hot with back-to-back games with more than 400 yards of total offense.
Armstrong passed for a career-high 383 yards and four touchdowns vs. Abilene Christian on Nov. 21, then rushed for a career-high 130 yards and a touchdown in last Saturday’s win over Boston College.
Armstrong ranks fifth in the ACC in total offense with 298.4 yards per game. His offensive line has allowed just 16 sacks, tied with Clemson for the fewest in the league.
Virginia Tech counters with the ACC’s No. 1 running game (238.9 yards per game). Khalil Herbert is second in the league in rushing with 1,020 rushing yards and leads with 7.6 yards per carry. He has seven touchdowns.
The status of Hokies quarterback Hendon Hooker is uncertain after he exited Saturday’s 45-10 loss at Clemson. He was seen shivering uncontrollably on the sideline before heading into the locker room. His father, Alan Hooker, told the Roanoke Times his son experienced muscle spasms due to temperatures in the low 30s.
“Talking to him today, we feel confident he’s full recovered,” Alan Hooker said Monday. “He’s fine. He’ll be ready to go. Hendon is resilient.”
Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente, who is on the hot seat with a 37-26 record since taking over in 2016, said he doesn’t want his situation to distract his players.
“I don’t want anybody to play for me,” he told reporters Monday. “I want them to play for each other.”
–Field Level Media