Virginia Tech Has ACC Title Still in Its Sights

The Hokies try to repeat as Atlantic Coast Conference division champs

With some help from its friends at Georgia Tech and more needed next week, Virginia Tech still has a chance to reach its first goal: repeating as Atlantic Coast Conference division champs.

The Hokies (6-4, 3-3 ACC) stayed alive Thursday night when the Yellow Jackets beat division-leading Miami, but will have to dash Duke's postseason dreams on Saturday to keep their improbable push going.

And that's just what they have to do for this week.

The Blue Devils (4-6, 1-5) still have a chance to reach a bowl game for the first time since 1994, but in their first season under head coach David Cutcliffe, they need to win their last two games.

Something, clearly, has to give at Lane Stadium on Saturday.

The Hokies have had an up-and-down season, losing three of four after a five-game winning streak. Their latest loss was 16-14 at Miami.

"I think it made us stronger, losing that tough one last week," rover Dorian Porch said. "That's not something you like to experience, but it definitely brought us closer together as a team."

They'll need to show it against the Blue Devils, a largely veteran team that has improved under Cutcliffe. Duke boasts victories against Virginia, Vanderbilt and Navy, but will arrive having lost three in a row.

Even so, "They've got a lot of juniors and seniors that have been there, playing through those times," Porch said.

Virginia Tech rolled over Duke 43-14 last year, but coach Frank Beamer said they have dangerous players on both sides of the ball.

Perhaps Duke's most imposing offensive weapon is quarterback Thaddeus Lewis, but whether he will play will be a game-time decision. He injured his foot in last week's game with Clemson.

On defense, senior linebacker Michael Tauiliili leads the ACC in tackles and is fifth nationally with an average of 11.1 per game.

"When you go against the guy who's the leading tackler, it's something you think about," said Hokies offensive guard Nick Marshman. But, he said, "Their whole front seven is good."

Beamer would not say who he will start at quarterback -- Tyrod Taylor has been the starter for most of the season, but Sean Glennon has started the last two games, although Taylor played most of the game at Miami.

Cutliffe said he's tried to prepare his team for both styles -- Taylor's mobility and Glennon's passing arm.

"Their dual quarterback system is kind of hard to replicate in practice," cornerback Glenn Williams said.

So, too, is the atmosphere at 66,000-seat Lane Stadium.

"When I'm watching tape, I don't see an empty seat in the house, period," Cutcliffe said.

The Hokies have been careful not to look ahead to next week's potentially huge game against Virginia, but Porch said "A win this week would give us a little extra boost going into next week."

If the Hokies beat Duke and the Cavaliers (5-5, 3-3) beat Clemson, the two could meet for the division title next week and a spot in the ACC championship game, providing the Hurricanes lose at North Carolina State.

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