Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer knows exactly what to expect from Boston College on Saturday.
''Good up front both ways,'' Beamer said this week of the program that was a rival of the Hokies when both were in the Big East Conference, and remains one now in the Atlantic Coast Conference. ''Play very tough.''
What Beamer can't know with any certainty is which Hokies team will show up.
Virginia Tech (3-5, 1-3 ACC) was competitive against top-ranked Ohio State in its opener, but has struggled since. The Hokies have lost four of their last five, including last week's four-overtime loss to Duke.
The losing has put Beamer on the defensive with questions surfacing about whether the time has come for coaching change.
''I've said all along that I really like this football team,'' the career victories leader in Division I said this week. ''I really like them right now. We've had some tough losses, haven't made some plays that we need to make, but I like the character on this team. I like the leadership on this team. We've got some good young players.
''You look at the guys who are scoring the points for us on offense, they're all young guys. I think they'll only get better and look forward to seeing if we can't get back on a good, good streak going down the stretch here.'
Virginia Tech is trying to keep alive its streak of 22 seasons ending in a bowl game.
The Eagles (3-5, 0-5) have won two straight in the series, and their struggles are all offense related. Their defense ranks first against the pass, seventh against the run and second overall in the nation, allowing just over 217 yards per game. But the Hokies faced one of the nation's top defenses last week in Duke, and with the return of starting quarterback Michael Brewer from a broken collarbone, rolled up 452 yards and looked invigorated.
Boston College's offense ranks 125th in the nation, averaging 283 yards.
''We are a football team right now that everyone wants to super hyper focus on the offense, which is completely understandable, but in the same breath, we are eight points from being 6-2 right now,'' coach Steve Addazio said.
''We've lost three games by eight points. This is a hard-fighting, battling football team, which is really the most important foundation you can have. As we get more experience and get players back - not this year but next year - we are building on a tough, physical foundation and investment that is going to pay a lot of dividends.''
Here are some other things to watch when Virginia Tech plays at Boston College on Saturday:
BREWER'S RETURN: Virginia Tech QB Michael Brewer, making his first start since he broke his left collarbone in the opener against Ohio State, looked sharp, eventually, against the Blue Devils. A faster start would help greatly.
TURNOVER BATTLE: Both teams are exponentially better when their defenses play aggressively and force turnovers. Who does it best Saturday could go a long way in determining the outcome.
EASY POINTS: The Eagles lead the ACC in scoring defense, allowing just 11.8 points per game, but are 0-5 in league play. Boston College had not scored more than 17 points against a Bowl Subdivision opponent.
AIR SHOW: Brewer's return has invigorated the Hokies' passing game and their 17 scoring throws are tied for 10th among Power Five conference schools. A few more could find the Hokies sitting pretty against the Eagles.
TRAVON TIME: Travon McMillian has established himself as the leader of the Hokies' ground game, and had 142 rushing yards against Duke. The Eagles allow just 62 yards on the ground per game. Another pivotal subplot that should be entertaining to watch.