2008 Monday Thoughts: Virginia

What a strange game. It’s unusual to see a team dominate play like the Hokies
did, turn it over just once, and yet win by just three points in a contest where
the outcome was in doubt with less than three minutes to go. It was one of VT’s
better offensive efforts of the season, but failures in the red zone and some
crafty coaching by the Virginia staff kept it close. In the end, Tech got what
they needed, and for the fourth time in five years, the Hokies will play a
single game for the ACC championship.

I’ll be honest: I just don’t get up for this rivalry very much anymore. I
lived and worked in Charlottesville in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when
Virginia was dominating the series as Tech was struggling with probation. UVa
won five of six from 1987-1992, although they only soundly beat the Hokies one
time, thrashing Tech 38-0 in 1991.

The scores were close in four of those five Virginia victories, but the
programs were far apart at the time. The Cavaliers were flirting with national
prominence, rising to a #1 ranking for a few weeks in the 1990 season and
snaring great recruits like Terry Kirby in the process. They couldn’t maintain
it, but I definitely had fear in my belly that the Hokies would never catch the
Hoos again.

Time has taught us different, and after standing toe to toe and slugging it
out for most of the 90s, Tech has pulled away. The last ten years have included
some royal whippings of the Wahoos, and even with a great shot at a young Hokie
team that was struggling offensively, Virginia couldn’t pull it off. Were you
worried Saturday? I wasn’t, because (1) the Hokies were moving the ball up and
down the field, and eventually, I knew Tech would pull ahead; and (2) once VT
did pull ahead, the game was in the hands of Bud Foster’s defense. That
situation almost never comes out poorly.