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Game Preview: Virginia Football vs. Virginia Tech

The Hoos and Hokies clash at Scott Stadium with the Commonwealth Cup on the line

Game Details

Who: Virginia Tech Hokies (5-6, 3-4 ACC) at Virginia Cavaliers (6-5, 4-3 ACC)

When: Saturday, November 27th at 3:45pm

Where: Scott Stadium in Charlottesville, Virginia

How to watch: ACC Network

SI Sportsbook Odds: Virginia -7

All-time series: Virginia Tech leads 58-35-5

Last meeting: Virginia Tech defeated Virginia 33-15 on December 12th, 2020 in Blacksburg

Virginia Tech this Season

Virginia Tech began the season with a 17-10 victory against North Carolina. At the time, the win seemed to indicate that the Hokies were destined for a great season, especially defensively, after shutting down Sam Howell and the 10th-ranked Tar Heels. Virginia Tech turned that win into a strong 3-1 start, with the only defeat being a 27-21 loss at West Virginia. However, the Hokies then lost three straight games, all of which came at home in Blacksburg. Since then, Virginia Tech has gone 2-2 and the program parted ways with head coach Justin Fuente. In J.C. Price’s first game as interim head coach, the Hokies lost at Miami 38-26 last week. The Hokies enter Saturday’s regular season finale with a 5-6 record and needing a win to become bowl eligible.

Virginia Tech is fourth in the ACC in scoring defense at 22.8 points per game allowed and sixth in the conference in total defense, allowing 376.6 yards per game. The Hokie offense has been hit-or-miss this season, looking rather ineffective in a 28-7 loss to Pittsburgh and a 17-3 loss to Boston College. However, Virginia Tech also put up 29 points on Notre Dame and scored 48 points a couple of weeks ago against Duke. The Hokies have the 13th-ranked scoring offense in the ACC at 24.5 points per game and they are last in the conference in total offense at 360.9 yards per game.

The Hokies are at their best when they pound the ball on the ground. Virginia Tech has six players with at least 100 rushing yards this season, including quarterbacks Braxton Burmeister and Connor Blumrick. Raheem Blackshear is the team’s leading rusher with 545 yards and five touchdowns. Virginia Tech does not utilize its passing game very often, but UVA must be aware of receivers Tre Turner and Tayvion Robinson, who both can be dangerous.

By the Numbers

Virginia Cavaliers vs. Virginia Tech Hokies

VirginiaBy the NumbersVirginia Tech

35.5 points per game

Scoring Offense

24.5 points per game

127.9 yards per game

Rushing

178.7 yards per game

390.2 yards per game

Passing

182.91 yards per game

518.1 yards per game

Total Offense

361.6 yards per game

32.1 ppg allowed

Scoring Defense

22.8 ppg allowed

466.2 ypg allowed

Total Defense

376.5 ypg allowed

-3

Turnover Differential

+1

+38

Scoring Differential

+18

Virginia Tech Players to Watch

Braxton Burmeister

Virginia Tech does not ask Braxton Burmeister to do very much with his arm, as the Hokies attempt only 25 passes per game. Burmeister has thrown for 1,819 yards and 12 touchdowns to four interceptions. The redshirt junior quarterback is perhaps more threatening with his legs, leading the team in rushing attempts with 105 carries for 406 yards and two touchdowns. Virginia Tech often brings in Connor Blumrick to fulfill a similar role of the running quarterback.

Raheem Blackshear

Blackshear averages 5.3 yards per carry, totaling 545 rushing yards and five touchdowns on 103 attempts. He is also a threat to catch the ball out of the backfield, as he recorded 34 receptions for 244 yards and a touchdown this season. The Cavaliers will need to be disciplined and disruptive in their run defense and most importantly, they will have to execute at a high level with their tackling in order to bring Blackshear to the ground.

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Tre Turner

Turner has made a career out of scoring touchdowns against Virginia. He has recorded a touchdown in each of his three games against the Cavaliers so far, including a 61-yard touchdown catch against UVA in 2019. He also blocked a Virginia punt resulting in a Hokie touchdown in Virginia Tech’s win over Virginia in Blacksburg in 2018. This season, Turner leads the Hokies with 675 receiving yards on 40 catches and three touchdowns. Virginia’s secondary will have to step up and make sure Turner does not have another big game on Saturday. 

Three Keys to the Game for Virginia

Stop the run

Virginia Tech’s game plan will likely be to try to keep Brennan Armstrong and the explosive Virginia offense off of the field for as long as possible. The Hokies can accomplish that objective with their solid rushing game, especially since UVA’s run defense has been a weakness for the team this season. Virginia needs to prevent Virginia Tech from establishing its run game and going on long scoring drives. If the UVA defense can get the ball back in the hands of Brennan Armstrong, it will be quite difficult for the Hokies to keep pace with the Wahoos in a shootout.

Limit mistakes

The Cavaliers shot themselves in the foot with key mistakes on both sides of the ball in the loss against Pittsburgh. The only way for Virginia Tech to completely stop the Virginia offense from scoring at will is if the Hoos hurt themselves with turnovers and penalties. The same goes for the UVA defense, which just needs to limit the big plays and come up with a couple of stops in order to let the Virginia offense take over the game.

Balance the emotions

It is no secret that the Hoos want to win this game badly. That much is usually true in a rivalry series, but especially one which has been dominated by the opponent for several years. The energy and motivation will certainly be there for the Cavaliers on Saturday, but they need to make sure that they play with a sense of control and discipline to balance out the intensity of the fight. 

What's at Stake

This in-state rivalry has been about as one-sided as it gets, with Virginia Tech winning 16 out of the last 17 meetings in the Commonwealth Clash as well as 20 of the last 22 matchups. A victory for the Cavaliers means they will have beaten the Hokies at Scott Stadium for the second time in the last three years. A UVA win also effectively ends Virginia Tech's season, as the Hokies will not be bowl eligible with a loss. 


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