Thanksgiving week means great times with family and friends, lots of terrific food and rivalry football games like this Saturday’s match-up between Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia.
It wasn’t that long ago that the buildup for this game captured the attention of the entire Commonwealth and the anticipation of the battle between the Hokies and ’Hoos was topic No. 1 from Annandale to Jonesville, and every city and burg in between.
However, the Hokies have won nine of the past 10 meetings, turning rivalry week into … well … ‘rivalry weak.’
There’s not much buzz.
But, this week’s game will be nationally televised and in a ‘throw-out-the-records’ theme, we should expect the unexpected. The means UVa probably won’t play like a team that’s dropped five straight games and is 3-8 on the year.
“We know they’ll be ready for us. We know what it means to them,” Tech head coach Frank Beamer said following the Hokies’ 38-10 win over N.C. State this past Saturday.
Last year, Tech kicked a late field goal to win 17-14 at Lane Stadium, overcoming a tremendous performance by the Wahoos surprise starter at quarterback, Vic Hall.
This year, the site shifts to Charlottesville.
“Other than Lane Stadium, I like playing there (Charlottesville) the most,” Tech senior Cody Grimm said. “It’s a rivalry game. We know those guys and they know us. We know how important it is to our fans to win that game.”
Important to Hokie fans indeed. Tech supporters have gobbled up (pun intended) every imaginable and available ticket to Saturday’s game in Charlottesville. And since UVa had a public ticket sale for this game, there could be quite a Tech turnout at Scott Stadium.
If November 27th is “Black Friday” around the country, November 28th might be “Maroon Saturday” in Charlottesville.
This has been the season of ‘what if’s’ for ACC teams.
Hokie fans are saying ‘what if’ we didn’t lose to UNC. We’d be in a BCS bowl.
Miami fans are saying the same thing.
Even Tar Heel fans are singing a similar tune. “If we hadn’t lost to UVa and FSU at home…” UNC would be BCS-bound.
But there are no rearview mirrors in college football. You can only look ahead. If the Hokies, now ranked 14th in the Associated Press poll, win Saturday and again in their bowl game, they have a chance to finish in the top 10 and secure their sixth straight 10-win season.
You can only look ahead, and this week, it’s Tech and UVa in Charlottesville.
This week, there are going to be a lot of external stories floating around from the Virginia coaching situation to the Hokies’ bowl options, and while both topics are salient and noteworthy, the game itself should be the primary focus.
Because if you ask Jim Druckenmiller, he’ll talk about that pass he threw in 1995 as his greatest moment. Similarly, if you ask Aaron Brooks, he’ll talk about leading his team to a heroic comeback in Blacksburg in 1998.
And Torrian Gray will talk about the day he ran down Tiki Barber and Jermaine Holmes will glow about that day he ran by Percy Ellsworth to make the game winning catch.
It’s a special game and for the players, it holds special meaning long after they’ve walked off the field.
Clearly, neither Tech nor UVa is having the season it envisioned. But whichever team gets to walk off the field with the Commonwealth Cup on Saturday will have accomplished something pretty special – and no doubt memorable.
Thanksgiving week broadcast schedule
Here’s a look at the busy broadcast week for the Hokies:
Monday: Tech faces Campbell in men’s basketball in Buies Creek, N.C. Radio coverage beginning at 6:30 p.m. on ISP radio affiliates, Hokies’ All-Access, and XM Satellite Channel 192. The tip-off is set for 7 p.m.
Tuesday: Tech Talk Live from Bull & Bones in Blacksburg 7-9 p.m. Tuesday’s guests are Jim Weaver, Seth Greenberg, Billy Hite, Frank Beamer and players Blake DeChristopher and Richard Graham. Radio coverage starts at 7 p.m. on ISP radio affiliates and Hokies’ All-Access.
Wednesday: Virginia Tech faces Radford in women’s basketball at 3 p.m. in Radford. Radio coverage in the New River Valley is on 101.7 FM and on Hokies’ All-Access.
Friday: Virginia Tech faces Temple in men’s basketball at the Palestra in Philadelphia. Radio coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. on ISP radio affiliates, Hokies’ All-Access and XM Satellite Radio. Television coverage is on Comcast SportsNet.
Saturday: Tech takes on UVa in football at Scott Stadium. Radio coverage begins at 2 p.m. at Scott Stadium on ISP radio affiliates, Hokies’ All-Access and XM Satellite Radio. Television coverage is on ABC.
The Hokies will face Delaware in men’s basketball in Philadelphia as well. Tip-off is at 6:15 p.m. Coverage is on Hokies’ All-Access. Women’s basketball faces Elon at 1 p.m. at Cassell Coliseum. Radio coverage in the New River Valley is on 101.7 FM and on Hokies’ All-Access.
And most importantly, have a Happy Thanksgiving!
For updates on Virginia Tech Athletics, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@hokiesports).