Tonight marks the seventh ACC title game. Virginia Tech’s been there five times. No other school has more than two trips (Boston College, Clemson, Florida State and Georgia Tech).
With that bit of history in mind, here’s tonight’s pick:
* Clemson vs. Virginia Tech (8, ESPN): Hokies 27-17. The Hokies haven’t lost in the seven games since the teams met back in early October, while Clemson has dropped three of its last four since its 8-0 start. The Tigers are coming off their worst total yardage performance since 1998 and simply haven’t been the same since their unbeaten run came to an end. Maybe there were some hints that could happen —- most notably Tajh Boyd‘s so-so first half against Maryland back on Oct. 15.
As for the Hokies, they’re … well, the Hokies. This is not nearly as dominant bunch as other Virginia Tech squads that have rolled to ACC titles, and its 11-1 record masks close calls against Miami, Duke and North Carolina. But they’ve also only given up 18.3 points per game in conference play, and they did slow down Boyd and Sammy Watkins in the first meeting.
Ultimately, this is Known vs. Unknown. Odds are good the Hokies will be competent on offense and well above average on defense. With Clemson struggling against the run (good news for Hokies tailback David Wilson) and eminently unpredictable to begin with, look for Virginia Tech to build a lead and employ a solid ball-control approach to collect their second straight ACC championship.
Week 13 record: 6-2 (3-1 conference)
ACC record: 72-24 (33-15 conference)
Navy record: 6-5
Preseason ACC record: 65-31 (28-20 conference)
—- Patrick Stevens