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The annual battle with the Virginia Cavaliers this past Saturday served as confirmation of a few different things. Number one, Virginia Tech is a lot better this season than everyone gave them credit for. Number two, Virginia Tech isnít ready to give up their claim as the top football program in the state. And lastly, winning the Commonwealth Cup doesnít require that you dominate the stat sheet, especially in the running game.
In the past, the question has always been whether or not UVA will be able to stop Virginia Techís powerful running game. And while the Hokies still have a strong running game this year, the question was the exact opposite coming into this game. Would the Hokies be able to stop UVAís two headed monster of Alvin Pearman and Wali Lundy? Technically, no they wouldnít. The Cavaliers rushed for 188 yards to Virginia Techís 147. Pearman rushed for 147 yards by himself. However, that statistic compares favorably to other results of Tech-UVA games in the Beamer Bowl Era, as you can see in the table below.
As you can see, from 1993 to 1996, UVA out rushed Virginia Tech every year. From the 1997 game all the way through 2003, Virginia Tech has out rushed Virginia every time the two teams have met. Of course, that doesnít necessarily indicate a victory.
Despite being out rushed by UVA in the first four years of the Beamer Bowl Era, the Hokies were able to win 3 of those games. In 1993, Virginia Tech was thoroughly whipped in most statistical categories by the Hoos, but the Hokies were able to block a kick and force a fumble to create points, and came away with the victory in Charlottesville.
In 1994, the Hokies just got hammered and never had a chance (those stupid Orange uniforms!). That was another Tech team that fell apart down the stretch and UVA took advantage.
The running games of both teams were non factors in the famous 1995 game in Charlottesville. Both defenses were too good. The game came down to the fact that the Hokies made more plays down the stretch than UVA and managed to win the game despite being out rushed 103 to 79.
The Wahoos once again out rushed the Hokies in 1996 in Blacksburg. However, the statistics are skewed a bit in this game. Tiki Barber broke off a huge run on the first play from scrimmage that carried the Hoos deep into Tech territory, and that run was a major portion of the 236 yards rushing that UVA racked up on the day. In fact, just about everything UVA got came in the first half of that game, as the Hokies dominated the second half and picked up the 26-9 victory.
In 1997 and 1998, the Hokies finally began to out rush UVA. The Hokies out gained the Hoos by 21 yards in 1997 and 99 yards in 1998. However it didnít help matters, as Tech was pounded by UVA in 1997 in a game that wasnít as close as the final score indicated. The 1998 game saw Shyrone Stith put up big rushing numbers, and the Hokies took a 29-7 lead into halftime. Unfortunately for Tech there are two halves, and UVA rallied to win 36-32 despite being dominated on the ground.
Tech has really dominated UVA on the ground since 1999. Until this yearís game, the closest the Cavs have come to the Hokies on the ground was 151 to 110 in 2003. A lot of those 110 yards came on a late run that Wali Lundy broke in the 4th quarter. Despite being out rushed, UVA was able to beat Tech behind the arm of Matt Schaub.
From 1999 to 2002, all Virginia Tech victories in the series, the Hokies crushed UVA in the ground game. The biggest margin during that 4 year span was 241 to 8 in 2001. The smallest margin was 262 to 171 in 2000, which was still a healthy victory for Tech.
As you can see from the graph above, the winning team has only out rushed the losing team in this series in 5 of the 12 games played since 1993. Those 5 games were played in 1994, and 1999-2002. Even more interesting is the fact that those 5 games were relatively easy wins by the winner.
While UVA did out rush Tech this past Saturday, it was hardly in dominating style. 78 of the 188 rushing yards put up by the Wahoos came on one play in the first half by Alvin Pearman. If you take out that one long play, UVA only rushed for 110 yards on 45 carries against the Hokie defense. That comes out to 2.44 yards per carry, a great number against a running game as powerful as that of the Hoos.
The 2004 Battle for the Commonwealth Cup was very similar to the 1996 game. As noted above, UVA broke a huge run early, but the Tech defense held the Cavs to a field goal. UVA took a 9-7 lead into halftime that year, and were winning the statistical battle, but the Hokies would dominate the 2nd half and cruise to victory. Just like the 1996 game, UVA was dominating the stats sheet at halftime, although the game was scoreless this time around. In 1996, the Wahoos could only convert 4 trips inside the Tech 20 into 3 field goals, and they blew opportunities in this game as well. Besides the Lundy fumble, they were also stopped inside the Tech 5 yard line and held to a field goal. From that point on, the Hokies dominated on both sides of the ball and went on to a 24-10 victory.
That UVA game in 1996 clinched a 10 win season for Frank Beamer and the Hokies. It also capped a conference championship season and a trip to an Alliance Bowl (it was called the Bowl Alliance instead of the BCS back then). This year, Tech must travel to Coral Cables to meet the mighty Hurricanes for the ACC Championship. With a win, the Hokies clinch a 10 win season and another trip to one of the ďBig 4Ē bowl games. Hereís hoping it's 1996 all over again.
Sugar Bowl Travel Packages To Be Offered by TSL
If the Hokies win Saturday and receive a coveted Sugar Bowl invitation, be sure to check TSL immediately after the game for Sugar Bowl travel packages offered by Premiere Sports Travel. We're excited about the travel package we're going to offer, which include air fare, three nights stay on Bourbon Street, and tickets to the Sugar Bowl. If the Hokies are ahead when the clock hits 0:00, come back here, book your trip, and be ready to go! Watch the TSL message boards and a special TSLMail for details.
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|TechSideline.com Updates From the Past Week|
TechSideline.com Recruiting Report Archive, 12/1/04 (MP3 Audio)
TSL Audio: Interview With Bryan Knoll of Canes Time Magazine, 12/1/04 (MP3
I Don't Like to Share
Tech Talk Tuesday Archive from 11/30/04 (Streaming Audio)
Injuries ... and More Injuries
Revisiting the Keys: Virginia
Bowl Picture Clearing Up
Virginia Game Analysis
Whip William and Mary on the Road, 80-63
Tech 24, Virginia 10
TechSideline.com Recruiting Report Archive, 11/24/04 (MP3 Audio)
Tech Talk Tuesday Archive from 11/23/04 (Streaming Audio)
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