One rival is all that stands in the way between Virginia Tech and yet another bowl. But Virginia isn't just going to let the Hokies win to keep their string of bowl seasons alive. It's 19 now, but can they make it 20 consecutive bowls?
We take our shots at calling what will happen at today's Noon ET kickoff.
Jason Stamm, publisher
It's technically a rivalry, but to truly be that, it has to go both ways. Virginia Tech has won eight straight against Virginia, including every game since joining the ACC.
I said this summer on Rivals Radio at the Rivals Five-Star Challenge, "What rivalry?" when asked about the Hokies and the 'Hoos. Is this the year it becomes a rivalry again?
But this one has more meaning than most. Virginia Tech must win to extend its season and get back to yet another bowl. Virginia's season ends no matter what today and many players on the Cavaliers have called this their bowl game.
Virginia Tech got some much-needed momentum going with an overtime win at Boston College last week. I'd expect at least some of that to keep going today.
The Hokies' defense is on a tear and had seven sacks last week. With Virginia offensive lineman Morgan Moses' status still in the air, that could open the door for defensive end James Gayle, senior linebacker Bruce Taylor and even Alonzo Tweedy, who had a pair of sacks, as did Taylor at Boston College.
I'd also expect Logan Thomas to be determined not to let what could be his final collegiate game end in a loss. It'll be a bitter fight, in what should be some bitter cold and wind, but Virginia Tech will keep its bowl streak alive by doing enough in the second half to move ahead.
PREDICTION:Virginia Tech 24-20
Doug Bowman, senior writer
The only way this one gets out of hand one way or another is if one team suddenly brings an overwhelming ground game to the table or one team just snaps and starts turning the ball over left and right. I don't think the Cavaliers have gotten better to the point where they can make up the 38 points worse they were last year, but I do think the Hokies have regressed to the point where it is going to be a very tight game.
It's a noon start and it's going to freezing cold, which is going to draw comparisons to the 2008 battle in which the Hokies won 17-14. I see this one being pretty similar to that one, possibly with a battle of field goal kickers taking place in the fourth quarter as the defenses batten down the hatches.
PREDICTION:Virginia Tech 19 - Virginia 13
Mike Stancik, staff writer
In a year that failed to meet expectations by a long shot, Virginia Tech has one last chance to (partially) salvage the season against its in-state rival. While the Hokies aren't playing for an ACC title-berth, the players will likely be motivated like its a playoff matchup. No doubt every year a team goal is to defeat the UVA Cavaliers- many of the in-state players have personal connections to the opponent.
While I certainly don't expect the Hokies to blow out the Wahoos, Virginia Tech should ride the Lane Stadium crowd one final time in 2012. The only home loss was the last-second heartbreaker against Florida State, and this team has truly played differently at home compared to the road.
UVA has the second-worst scoring defense (30.0 PPG), and we should see an explosive performance from Thomas. Defensive coordinator Bud Foster's defense intercepts Michael Rocco/Phillip Simms multiple times and the Hokies win by two scores to gain momentum heading into a bowl.