Every team in the ACC has a couple games they wish they had back from 2012. Whether they didn’t bring their A-game, or the other guys just got lucky, every school would love another shot at an opponent, for the ability to prove it won’t happen again. Luckily, because of conference play and parity in the ACC, many will get a chance at redemption immediately, with rematches already on the books for 2013.
As part of our 2013 college football season preview, we’ll be running through the biggest “payback” games for each school. As no team finished with just one loss, there are likely multiple choices for each — none more “right’ than another, necessarily. Still, every selection should help provide some extra motivation for fans as they gear up for this season’s slate of games.
Team: Virginia Cavaliers
Opponent: Virginia Tech Hokies
Last Year: Loss, 17-14 at Virginia Tech
This Year: November 30 vs. Virginia Tech
Nine straight years. Nine straight years Virginia has lost to cross-state rival Virginia Tech, but could’ve been the biggest letdown yet for the Hoos. Though UVa was already eliminated from postseason contention, Virginia Tech needed to win on the season’s final Saturday in order to go bowling. Virginia could’ve played spoiler to the Hokies’ season, and for nearly the entire game it appeared they would follow through. They hadn’t trailed since tying the score at 7-7 in the first quarter, and the Hokies’ passing game continued to look anemic, just as it had all season. But a less-than-stellar pass from Virginia QB Michael Rocco with three and a half minutes remaining would result in an interception and later, the game-winning field goal. Virginia Tech won 17-14. They’d be going bowling once again, and the Hoos were not only sitting home, but had helped their rivals reach their postseason dreams.
In the less dramatic version of the story, this one played out as season-long observers of both teams should’ve expected. Virginia Tech’s offense struggled all year, but Logan Thomas could typically do enough when called upon to keep them in games. The defense, as always, was solid, but needed to be handed opportunities more so than normal. And Virginia’s inconsistency — something we’ll see more of in 2013 — was ultimately what did them in once again. There wasn’t much separating these two teams last year, save the difference in experience. Tech knew how to win these types of games. Virginia just didn’t.
This time around, Virginia may get yet another chance to play spoiler for Tech, though it’s unclear where the Hoos are headed come December. Without much of a proven passing game, and a questionable defense, they’ll be relying heavily on the running game led by Kevin Parks. Last year’s offense — while possessing both Parks and Jones, plus top-flight linemen in Oday Aboushi and Morgan Moses — was overly pass-reliant and that was no more apparent than Rocco’s late interception in the 2012 game between these teams. In late game situations, this team should be able to rely on its running game to get the job done, yet refused to last fall. Now, without the luxury of going pass-first, they’re destined to be a little one-dimensional; which could have both positive and negative results. Virginia Tech’s a difficult team to fool defensively when you have two competent offensive options. With just one… I guess we’ll find out what happens in November.