5th ranked Virginia Tech visits Heinz Field

In a game that has everything you would want in a big-time college football game, Pittsburgh and Virginia Tech meet Saturday night at sold out Heinz Field. Both teams are ranked in the top 25, the game will be played before a national TV audience on ESPN, the winner has a good chance of at least a share of the Big East Championship, plus both teams have a Heisman Trophy candidate and are coming into this game playing their best football of the season.

That's not even counting that Pitt defeated VT the last two seasons and that VT is spurning the Big East Conference to make the move to the ACC. The ESPN Gameday crew will also be on hand. Most importantly, the winner will still be alive for a possible BCS Bowl.

Virginia Tech (7-1, 3-1) is coming off a 31-7 blowout win over then #2 Miami. Pittsburgh (6-2, 3-0) is coming off a 24-13 win over Boston College.

Heisman Trophy candidate junior Kevin Jones at running back leads the Hokie offense. Jones has excellent speed and even better moves. He has rushed for 863 yards on 158 carries and 10 TD's. He also has an impressive 5.5 yards per carry average. His backup, sophomore Cedric Humes is a very good RB also. Hume has rushed for 340 yards on 55 carries for a 6.2 yards per carry average.

Junior QB Bryan Randall has been hot and cold this season. He has completed 86 of 137 passes for 1,042 yards and 9 TD's. He's also thrown 7 interceptions. Randall is also a big threat rushing the football. He has rushed for 303 yards on 53 carries and 3 TD's for a 5.7 yards per carry average. Pitt will also have to defend the speedy and strong-armed freshmen QB Marcus Vick, as he will see plenty of action also.

The leading receiver for the Hokies is senior Ernest Wilford. He has 29 catches for 421 yards and 2 TD's. Sophomore Justin Hamilton has added 15 catches for 179 yards and 1 TD.

VT has an extremely quick defense that likes to pressure the QB. The Hokie defense is led by junior cornerback DeAngelo Hall. He is an outstanding athlete, but he'll have to sit out the first half of the game because he was involved in a fight last week in the Miami game. Hall is also an outstanding punt returner and already has 2 TD returns this season.

Senior defensive end Cols Colas is a force to be dealt with and the Panthers will have to pay special attention to him. Other standout defensive players include sophomore LB Brandon Manning, senior LB Vegas Robinson and junior CB Eric Green. Senior safety Michael Crawford is one of the Big East's leaders in tackles for a loss also.

Last but not least is the Hokie special teams unit, which is annually among the best in the country. They have blocked many kicks by the Panthers over the years. VT blocked 7 kicks last season. Every player that accounted for one of those blocks returned this season.

VT had more returning starters this season than any other team in the Big East Conference. 8 starters on both sides of the ball returned from last season, plus both kickers. Pitt defeated VT 28-21 last season in Blacksburg. VT was ranked #3 in the country at the time.

Brian Gold

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