Let's start by mentioning that I think Tech will win this game. And it could well be a blow-out. After all, Tech showed last week that they just may be putting it all together for a stretch run that could put them in a New Year's Bowl after the disappointment of the Clemson and Maryland games.
But I'm a little nervous for several reasons. This is the year that you can't show up flat against anyone in the ACC except Duke. If the Jackets show up flat Saturday, it could be a disaster in the making. Two years ago, Tech led 28-7 at the half, but Thomas Jones lit the Jackets up in the second half and led the Wahoos to a 45-38 win. Jones ended up with over 200 yards rushing. Recardo Wimbush says the Jackets "relaxed at halftime." They just couldn't get it going again afer that. Well, this Cavalier squad doesn't have that kind of firepower. But they do have a few things going for them Saturday.
UVA suddenly has the running game they have desperately needed all season. Antoine Womack, who led the ACC in rushing last year, is back after an early season injury. Freshman Alvin Pearman also has emerged through the season as a solid ACC back himself. Furthermore, lead blocker Tyree Foreman is back from an injury. Suddenly, there's a lot more smashmouth in the Virginia gameplan.
The silver lining from last week's loss to Wake Forest was the play off the bench of QB Bryson Spinner. Spinner, who has been platooning with strong thrower Matt Schaub, is the better all-around athlete. It's the guess here that Spinner will see more action Saturday after his performance last week.
Virginia has been known for their tall receivers over the years and 6-4 Billy McMullen will certainly get his share of looks against Tech's short secondary.
The fifth and final reason to be at least a little nervous has to do with history. Everyone knows that Tech hasn't won in Charlottesville since the national championship season. This Virginia team has had holes this season, but their talent level is not that dramatically below what has been typical for the Cavs the past 15 years. The defense has fine players and decent depth. If Tech wins with ease, frankly I'll be a little surprised.