Your ACC Championship Game Preview

BLACKSBURG, VA - OCTOBER 1: Logan Thomas #3 of the Virginia Tech University Hokies is sacked by Malliciah Goodman #97 of the Clemson University Tigers on October 1, 2011 at Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, Virginia. (Photo by Ned Dishman/Getty Images)

The old guard ACC teams must wish Virginia Tech never got the invite to join the conference in 2004. The Hokies have won the league title four times in seven seasons. Now they are bucking for yet another championship against Clemson tomorrow night in Charlotte.

Who's Playing?
No. 5 Virginia Tech Hokies (11-1, 7-1) vs No. 20 Clemson Tigers (9-3, 6-2)

What's at Stake?
Uh, the ACC title. Sounds boring, but neither of these teams are in the national title hunt, and Virginia Tech has too many losses already to hope for an at-large BCS bid if the Hokies lose. I guess watching this game is fun because Clemson could make its traditional November collapse complete with a blowout loss to Tech. Plus, if the Tigers win, we might get another Dabo Swinney Special.

Where is it?
Skank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC, USA.

When is it?
Saturday, December 3rd at 8 pm on ESPN.

How They Got Here:
Virginia Tech

Sept. 3 - W vs Appalachian St. 66-13
Sept. 10 - W @ East Carolina 17-10
Sept. 15 - W vs Arkansas St. 26-7
Sept. 24 - W @ Marshall 30-10
Oct. 1 - L vs (13) Clemson 23-3
Oct. 8 - W vs Miami 38-35
Oct. 15 - W @ Wake Forest 38-17
Oct. 22 - W vs Boston College 30-14
Nov. 5 - W @ Duke 14-10
Nov. 12 - W @ (21) Georgia Tech 37-26
Nov. 19 - W vs North Carolina 24-21
Nov. 25 - W @ Virginia 38-0

Virginia Tech didn't appreciate losing at home to Clemson. So what they did was get by Miami during an expected let-down week, and run off seven straight victories. The season ended with a rather loud bang, torching rival UVA in the season finale. Remember, UVA isn't terrible this year, either. Quarterback Logan Thomas and running back Davis Wilson are probably the two best skill players you haven't heard of... yet. Thomas threw for over 2,500 yards and 60 percent, while Wilson cracked the 1,500 mark during the regular season. And both only got better as the season progressed. A big positive heading into this rematch is that VT's senior corner Cris Hill was all over Clemson's star frosh wideout Sammy Watkins last time out, holding him to three catches for 38 yards. Watkins has averaged seven receptions and 104 yards against the other 11 opponents this year.

Clemson

Sept. 3 - W vs Troy 43-19
Sept. 10 - W vs Wofford 35-27
Sept. 17 - W vs (21) Auburn 38-24
Sept. 24 - W vs (11) Florida St. 35-30
Oct. 1 - W @ Virginia Tech 23-3
Oct. 8 - W vs Boston College 36-14
Oct. 15 - W @ Maryland 56-45
Oct. 22 - W vs North Carolina 59-38
Oct. 29 - L @Georgia Tech 31-17
Nov. 12 - W. vs Wake Forest 31-28
Nov. 19 - L @ North Carolina St. 37-13
Nov. 26 - L @ (12) South Carolina 34-13

Clemson thought beating a completely gutted Auburn team in Tiger Stadium was something to "Shock the World" about. I guess they didn't watch Utah State leading Auburn until the final seconds in Jordan-Hare Stadium two weeks prior. The big problem for Clemson during its late-season collapse was the defense packing it in, while the offense wasn't clicking quite the same as it had been early in the year. But if you read BSD on a regular basis, you might remember this from a month ago:

But you know what? They have no shot in hell to get there. Why? Because you don't reach national championship games without great defenses. Sooner or later, the Pokes are going to have an off day on offense, throw a few picks, fumbles the ball, and not have the defense to compensate. Same with Clemson.

Following the win over Boston College, Clemson's defense ranked 24th (scoring) in the nation. Coming into this championship game against Virginia Tech, that same defense plummeted to 66th in scoring. The offense, prior to the first loss of the season against Georgia Tech, was rolling with 40 points per game. But in the final four games, the offense scored 17.5 points per game. I like to think my prediction was spot on. The defense started to show its true colors, but once the offense wasn't running at 100%, Clemson's season fell apart.

So Who's Going to Win?

Virginia Tech. The Hokies have won more of these ACC Championship Games (3-1 record) than any other ACC team. Clemson lost the only other berth (2009 vs GT) it had. If you really want to dig deep here, the ACC CG has hosted a rematch of a regular season game on three occasions--2007 & 2008 VT vs BC; 2009 GT vs WF. The loser of the regular season game is 2-1 in the championship game... those two victories were by Virginia Tech.

Prediction

VT 30, Clemson 16

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