Virginia Tech (9-1, 6-1 ACC) must defeat North Carolina Saturday night in order to clinch the Coastal Division and advance to the inaugural ACC championship game in Jacksonville, Fla. on Dec. 3. The fifth-ranked Hokies are coming off a 52-14 thrashing of in-state rival Virginia.
The Hokies have scored in a school record 132 straight football games. They're 86-27-1 at Lane Stadium under Frank Beamer. And against the Tar Heels, a series that dates back to 1895 but has only been renewed twice since 1946, Va. Tech is 13-9-6.
Carolina won 42-3 in the 1997 Gator Bowl (played Jan. 1, 1998), while Va. Tech triumphed 27-24 at Kenan Stadium last year.
QUOTABLE – Frank Beamer
"Our football team feels fortunate to be in the position we're in right now. We have a chance to control our own destiny. I'm very, very impressed with this North Carolina team. They've got a very complete offense. On defense, they've got some players that are really playing hard. I think that's a tremendous concern right now. This game has always been big, but right now it's huge. What's at stake here is very important. We always thought we were going to have to win out to get to a BCS game. But now if we can have a chance to play for the ACC title – that's real special. We've got to play our very best against North Carolina. I think they're a very dangerous football team."
Ever heard of Marcus Vick
(#5, 6-0, 216, Jr.)? Sure you have. He has thrown for 13 touchdowns with eight interceptions. Vick, with arguably the most recognizable surname in all of football, threw for a career-high three scores at Duke, passed for 280 yards against Boston College and went 15-for-17 versus West Virginia. However, he's not his over-hyped older brother, and Carolina is hoping he doesn't put it all together this Saturday on national television. The sun will likely come out during the game before backup Sean Glennon
(#7, 6-4, 217, So.) sees the playing field as the Hokies are hoping to redshirt him, but he played in four games last year, throwing for 137 yards and two touchdowns.
Perhaps the best one-two punch in the ACC at tailback comes into this game a little dinged up. Cedric Humes
(#32, 6-1, 233, Sr.), who returned to face Boston College after missing the Maryland game with a broken arm, has 498 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. And the speedy and diminutive Mike Imoh
(#20, 5-7, 195, Sr.), who missed the Virginia game with a sore ankle, has rushed for 415 yards and four touchdowns. With Imoh's status questionable, the likelihood increases of seeing one or both of two former UNC recruiting prospects, Branden Ore
(#28, 5-11, 204, Fr.) and George Bell
(#34, 5-10, 220, Fr.). Ore has 480 yards rushing and five touchdowns, while Bell has run for 152 yards and two scores. Ore's 115 yards rushing and two touchdowns against the Cavs earned him ACC Rookie of the Week honors. Fullback Jesse Allen
(#37, 6-0, 233, Jr.), a walk-on who earned a scholarship in the spring, caught a touchdown pass against Ohio.
It's no laughing matter when split end David Clowney (#87, 6-1, 175, Jr.) gets the ball. He's the fastest and most experienced of the position group. For the season, Clowney has 497 yards receiving and three touchdowns. No true freshman made a bigger impact on last year's ACC championship team than flanker Eddie Royal (#4, 5-10, 171, So.). His 80-yard touchdown reception at Georgia Tech sparked a big comeback, and he also caught the game-winning touchdown pass to secure Va. Tech's 16-10 win over Miami to clinch the title. Josh Morgan (#17, 6-1, 215, So.) set a school bowl record with 126 yards receiving in last year's Sugar Bowl loss to Auburn. Justin Harper (#81, 6-3, 210, So.) has 12 catches for 189 yards.
All-conference candidate Jeff King
(#90, 6-5, 253, Sr.) has caught touchdowns in four straight games, and 10 for his career. He spent the winter playing on the basketball and eight rebounds and six points in the win over Duke at Cassell Coliseum. John Kinzer
(#43, 6-2, 245, So.) made the move from fullback and caught two passes last week versus Virginia.
Center Will Montgomery (#66, 6-3, 307, Sr.) is considered the best of the senior laden unit. He also plays left guard. He earned ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week honors after he graded out at 95 percent versus Maryland. Left guard Jason Murphy (#72, 6-2, 305, Sr.) has 32 knockdown block and has played 610 snaps this season. Right guard Reggie Butler (#61, 6-6, 350, Sr.) is starting in just his fourth game of the season. Left tackle Jimmy Martin (#52, 6-5, 311, Sr.) has started a team-best 43 straight games. And right tackle Duane Brown (#76, 6-5, 278, So.) moved over from tight end in the second week of preseason.
Presesaon All-America end Darryl Tapp
(#55, 6-1, 265, Sr.) has 38 tackles, including 8.5 for loss, seven sacks, three forced fumbles and an incredible 27 quarterback hurries. On the other end is Chris Ellis
(#49, 6-5, 250, So.), who earned team defensive MVP honors last spring. Tackle Tim Sandidge
(#71, 6-1, 304, Sr.) has 29 tackles and two sacks, while Jonathan Lewis
(#56, 6-1, 265, Sr.) has 6.5 tackles for loss and four sacks.
WHIP James Anderson
(#42, 6-3, 232, Sr.) is second on the team with 72 stops, including 8.0 for loss. He also has three sacks and an interception. Anderson's steady play enabled the Va. Tech coaches to move Aaron Rouse
(#36, 6-4, 221, Jr.) to ROVER. The duo of Vince Hall
(#9, 6-0, 236, So.) and Xavier Adibi
(#11, 6-2, 224, So.) call themselves "911," referencing they're respective jersey numbers. Hall, the MIKE, lead the team with 86 tackles and has earned ACC Defensive Player of the Week honors twice this year. Adibi recorded 10 tackles in the win over the Terps.
All-ACC corner Jimmy Williams
(#2, 6-3, 216, Jr.) moved from free safety this year and his interceptions numbers are down, but that is because teams have chosen to throw away from him. On the other corner is Roland Minor
(#15, 6-0, 205, So.), who returned an interception 23 yards for a touchdown against the Blue Devils. Free saftey Justin Hamilton
(#27, 6-3, 222, Sr.), who played tailback last season, has three picks in '05.
Kicker Brandon Pace (#46, 5-10, 196, Jr.), a Lou Groza semifinalist, is 15-for-18 in field goal attempts with a long of 44 yards. He's a perfect 44-for-44 PATs. Big punter Nick Schmidt (#23, 6-2, 273, Jr.) is averaging 41.8 yards per punt, with 12 downed inside the 20 yard line. Royal, who's averaging 21.6 yards per kickoff return and 8.6 yards on punts handles most of the return duties, although Imoh and Morgan have also seen action. Nobody has taken one back this season.