Commonwealth Cup, Bowl Eligibility On The Line For Virginia Tech at UVa

Tre Turner scored on a 61-yard touchdown pass from Hendon Hooker at the end of the third quarter in the 2019 VT-UVa game. (Ivan Morozov)

Losing at Virginia in 2019 stung for Virginia Tech. The Hokies were riding high after three straight wins, having won six of their last seven.

Justin Fuente & Co., needing a 16th win straight in the series to clinch the ACC Coastal Division and advance to the league’s Championship Game, faltered.

Leading 27-20 entering the fourth quarter, Tech allowed Bryce Perkins to complete six of his seven attempts in the last 15 minutes for 101 yards. With that, UVa scored a rushing touchdown, kicked two field goals and snatched the Commonwealth Cup back thanks to Mandy Alonso forcing Hendon Hooker to fumble, which was scooped up for a Cavalier score.

Virginia won 39-30, snapping The Streak, and Cavalier fans rushed the field.

Virginia with the cup. (Ivan Morozov)

“It’s hard to forget,” Tech wide receiver Tre Turner said about what he remembers from the 2019 game in Charlottesville. “Hurt. It was kind of like we got punched in the gut. … I’ll never forget that pain that I felt in 2019.”

This time around, Virginia Tech and Virginia aren’t each 8-3 and fighting for the Coastal Division. It’s been a bit of a chaotic season for both programs, actually, and the Hokies have had a hectic last ten days.

VT sits at 5-6 and needs a win against UVa to clinch bowl eligibility, while the Cavaliers are 6-5 and no longer in the Coastal Division race, which Pitt clinched, after losing to the Panthers last week.

Both teams still have the ultimate prize to play for, though: Pride. And for Virginia Tech, that also means getting revenge for 2019.

“The last time in Charlottesville was one of the worst things I’ve ever felt,” Hokies defensive end TyJuan Garbutt said. “I want to get the taste out of my mouth.”

“If you can’t be fired up to play this game, you don’t even need to be going out there because we know what we have to do,” Turner said. “We’ve got to get that sixth win, we’ve got to get this second win in a row vs. UVa and get that cup and keep it.”

Getting To A Bowl

Last season, the Hokies, who finished 5-6, opted out of a bowl game. It ended Tech’s streak of 27 consecutive years with a trip to the postseason.

It was a year full of ups and downs with COVID-19, and while some fans were disappointed with the team’s decision, it was understandable given the circumstances. 

This year, however, the Hokies need a win at UVa to become bowl eligible. In the last decade, Virginia Tech has been in this situation multiple times: 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2018. All times the program needed a win to continue its season, it did.

For Virginians like Garbutt, who is from Fredericksburg, that grew up watching the rivalry, it means everything to them, something they’ve relayed to their teammates.

TyJuan Garbutt is a Fredericksburg native, so this game means more to him. (Ivan Morozov)

“It’s really a big-time game,” Garbutt said. “For me, being from this state, going against those guys up the road, this means a lot to me. I feel like, as a collective unit, we know what the goal is, the goal is to win so we can have one more game together as this group. For me, I’m taking it as a personal challenge to go play my best football yet.

“We know, no matter what’s happened, this is the biggest game. Not only because it’s the next game, but it’s the guys up the road.”

With bowl eligibility riding on the result of Saturday’s game, too, Tech has even more to play for. Interim head coach J.C. Price, who lives and breathes Virginia Tech, explained to the players last week about how the bowl streak started back in 1993, his sophomore year, and what it means to be able to go to the postseason.

“They didn’t start that streak because it was the plan,” Garbutt said. “It was because they had pride to try to go play in the postseason and get some recognition to this place and create an identity for Virginia Tech. Just knowing that, if we win this one against our biggest rivals, we will have one more game and we will be remembered as a resilient group.”

Price brings passion and juice to this Hokies program. Tech linebacker Dax Hollifield said he’d “run through a wall” for Price. Garbutt said Price embodies the saying, “the VT never comes off.”

Led by Price, Virginia Tech has an opportunity to extend its season in Charlottesville. They’ll be playing for many things, including bowl eligibility and the cup, but pride will be at the top of the list.

“Losing the streak [in 2019] sort of upset me,” Hollifield said. “It’s gone, but I want to start a new one. I want to get this win this weekend, and with that comes a bowl. But we want this one this weekend. Bowl would be great. That’s the outcome of it, but yeah. UVa is my big plan.”

18 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. I am here to happily eat my crow. The fight of the won this game, despite their coaches ( all of them).

  2. I can’t even bring myself to read this article. Damn. Fuente effed us and left the Cubbard bare.

  3. As Will and Chris noted for TSL, UVa by double digits, and agree… so sad and they will keep the cup next year too. I sure hope all three of us are wrong. GO HOKIES!!!!!!!!

  4. I don’t think the board is much interested in this game. I think they are using the coaching search as a way to evade it. I think TSL (owners and all) kind of fear the game. Let’s hope VT wins. BA is a really good QB. Only ball control coupled with a couple of turnovers by UVA will give us that opportunity to win. Of course, UVA may be a bit down for the game as they suffered a demoralizing loss last week. We have got to get to them early.

  5. I must say,it’s hard for me to get excited about the bowl eligibility angle anymore after the choice not the extend the streak last year. Sure I want to beat dsu and go to the bowl, but it’s such a downer to hear about how the streak ended every time. They made a huge mistake in breaking our streak.

    1. Exactly. Giving away the bowl streak was a huge mistake. Simply can’t put that to a vote. Must take into account all prior sacrifices, and make the leadership call to proceed, compete for one more game and keep it going.

  6. I have been a Hokie for 30+ years now and have been through all the ups and downs and false hopes as everyone else here has. The only thing that has made me truly angry over all this time is the intentional decision to toss away the bowl streak last year. Too many guys put in too much exhaustive effort over nearly 3 decades to keep that going. And it was just tossed away like it was nothing.

    Maybe if UVA crushes us this year and we lose the streak ‘for real’ I’ll be able to get over my anger from last year and one day start donating again. lol.

    1. I agree. I was really disappointed. Supposedly it was put to a team vote and, because of COVID, more kids wanted to go home and Fuente yielded. Don’t know how close the vote was. I hope it was a vote among seniors or at least juniors and seniors but I don’t know.

      I was not as disappointed with the UVA. That kind of streak against a single team is heavily against the odds.

      1. What’s worse….is this is we are only fed a narrative by Fuente that the players voted and decided not to go to a bowl. He and his coaches could have planted that seed. Regardless…..I agree. It was very selfish of him and inconsiderate to not defend and respect all the prior players, families, students, fans, and all the supporters of our institution who helped build that incredible streak. This 2018 and 2019 horrendous performance is why he needed to be gone. Thank goodness….Now we are free. Fear not Hokies…..the sun will shine on us again one day.

        1. 60!! years as a Hokie. Ending the Bowl streak was the biggest downer for me of the Fuente era. I found it interesting that all of the game stars (and team leaders) were talking after the Hoo game in interviews with Mike about being excited about going to a Bowl!! Then Fuente supposedly takes this secret straw poll in his office and declares the player vote was not to go. I declared BS on that one. I liked him personally up to then, but glad to see him go!!!!

          Go Hokies!!

  7. As Granny Hawkins said, “All that tough talk’s worth doodly-squat” – VT won last year because they dominated on the LoS. If the big boys come to play it will be a good game, if not it is going to be ugly.

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