When I was 10 I collected a lot of sports cards and there was nothing more exciting than opening a pack and seeing who I’d just picked up.
One card I was particularly happy to snag was a Will Furrer rookie card, which displayed a picture of Will in his Virginia Tech days. In the picture he was dropping back to pass, but over his shoulder you could tell he was definitely about to get crushed by an opponent wearing a gold helmet decorated with plenty of tomahawk stickers.
In hindsight, it probably wasn’t the best picture they could have used, but it does illustrate my, and many Hokie fans, long-standing feelings towards Florida State. Call them the Hokies’ Darth Vader, their Joker, or even their Cobra Commander. They have been a thorn in the Hokies’ side at best and a reminder of broken dreams at worst.
The Hokies have played the Seminoles 34 times, with FSU holding the series advantage at 22-11-1. They have also won 13 out of the last 14 contests, with the Hokies’ last victory coming in their 2008 30-20 victory at Lane Stadium, and some of the more heart wrenching losses being the 2000 National Championship game, the 2002 Gator Bowl, and the 2005 inaugural ACC Championship game.
As the Hokies (10-3, 8-2) and Noles (9-3, 6-2) meet for the 35th time Saturday in Charlotte, Virginia Tech has the grand opportunity to make up for those heartaches, along with winning their fourth ACC title.
Florida State had high hopes entering the 2010 season, but it has quickly turned into one of highs and lows. They got blown out in their early season game against Oklahoma and dropped two close games to N.C. State and UNC, but we also able to beat in-state rival Florida for the first time in six years.
FSU quarterback Christian Ponder, the preseason favorite to win ACC player of the year, has had a season of highs and lows as well. He has thrown for multiple touchdowns in six games this season, five of which the Noles won, but has also had multiple interceptions in two games, as well as being hampered by an elbow injury. He has completed over 62 percent of his passes this season, piling up 2038 yards.
Defensively the Noles have had a ton of success getting after opposing quarterback and are the number two team in the country when it comes to sacks, at over 3.5 per contest. Much of this success is due to sophomore defensive end Brandon Jenkins, who alone as 12 sacks on the year.
Florida State is a good team and Jimbo Fisher, in his first year as head coach, as done a solid job, however I feel Virginia Tech is the better team. With that said, I also fear they could very well not be the best team on Saturday.
This season the Hokies have often reminded me of a kid waking up for school. They tumble around at first and seem to hit the snooze a few times before finally getting rolling. To their credit, they generally don’t dig a hole too deep to crawl out of and they have staged several impressive comebacks, however facing a big-name opponent with a history of beating them that might not be such an easy mental hurdle to overcome.
If the Hokies come out early, establishing Ryan Williams and Darren Evans on the ground and allowing Tyrod Tayor time enough to hit his receivers across the middle of the field, they shouldn’t have any trouble putting up points on the Noles and force them to play from behind. At that point they should be able to get after Christian Ponder, frustrating him and his banged up elbow, and allowing the sticky hands of Jayron Hosley and the Hokies secondary to go to work.
Game time is 7:45 and will be televised on ESPN.