When Virginia Tech heads north this week for its Thursday night affair with Pittsburgh, something is going to give.
Either Tech’s record away from Lane Stadium in 2014 gets blemished for the first time, or the program’s inability to win at Heinz Field since 1999 comes to an end.
At home against FBS opponents, Tech is 1-2, averages 26.6 points per game and has given up 24 points on average. On the road, the Hokies are 2-0, average 34.5 points and allow 19 points per game.
“I felt like we played to our opponents at home,” Hokies safety Detrick Bonner said. “I guess we seem a little complacent and very comfortable and it kind of affects us during the game. When we travel, I feel like the energy steps up a lot and we play a lot more aggressive and the team comes together being at other people’s stadium and just relying on each other.”
When the Hokies traveled to Columbus, Ohio to take on Ohio State, they did so as heavy underdogs and played perhaps their most complete game of the season. In Chapel Hill, as slight favorites, but with plenty to prove after losing two of its last three, Tech jumped out to an early lead and played stifling defense, which put to sleep any Tar Heel ideas of a comeback.
For whatever reason, the Hokies haven’t been able to find sustained, positive results when playing in Lane Stadium.
“It just seems like everyone has a lot more energy on the road. We can only rely on us,” senior rover and native Pennsylvanian Kyshoen Jarrett said. “When we are home we kind of get comfortable and complacent with who we play and outside competition. I really can’t pinpoint why that is.”
Before this season, head coach Frank Beamer was 131-35-1 (.784) within the friendly confines of Lane Stadium. Beamer said he couldn’t pinpoint why the Hokies have struggled at home this year, but added factors like location don’t matter to championship-caliber teams.
“When you get to be a good football team and have a chance to win championships is when it really doesn’t matter what day it is, what time it is, what team it is,” Beamer said. “Virginia Tech plays consistent their way. That’s been true over the years. Not being an up and down football team and having good enough players, you’ve got a chance to win championships.”
Given the home record for the first half of the season and the admitted tendencies to come out and play lax at home, heading on the road may not seem as tantamount a task as in most years. Until you see the Hokies recent road record at Pittsburgh, that is.
The Hokies beat Pittsburgh (3-3, 1-1 ACC) last season at Lane Stadium, but lost the four matchups before that by an average of more than 14 points, including three at Heinz Field.
“I think every year is different,” Beamer said. “What caused the first loss, second loss, third loss, fourth loss are different reasons. The bottom line is they are always a very physical football team, very tough. They don’t beat themselves. Tough team to beat.”
The Hokies are 12-23 Beamer in NFL Stadiums (Heinz Field is the home of the Steelers), and before last year’s win at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, the Hokies had lost seven straight.