- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 30, 2002

BLACKSBURG, Va. Lamar Cobb hopes a November nosedive in which No.22 Virginia Tech went from unbeaten to quite beatable won't matter much when the Hokies and Virginia meet for the 84th time today.
"They're going to hate us, and we're going to hate them,"the Hokies' senior defensive end said this week. "It's going to come down to who wants it more."
The Hokies (8-3) want it pretty bad after losing three straight for the first time in a decade and seeing a season that had national championship possibilities disintegrate. The rivalry, though, seems to bring out the best in both teams, even when their fortunes are headed in opposite directions.
"We know they haven't been playing well the last couple of games, but we're sure they'll bring their 'A' game for us," said Cavaliers tailback Wali Lundy, who will be facing the Hokies for the first time.
The Cavaliers (8-4) arrive playing their best football in years and seeking a school-record third consecutive victory against a team ranked in the Top 25. Last weekend they surprised No.25 Maryland 48-13 at home.
"They've been surprising me all year," Cobb said.
More than 65,000 are expected to pack Lane Stadium, most hoping the Hokies will find a way to win their fourth straight in the series. But the Cavaliers welcome the chance to quiet them down and add to a trend in which the visiting team has won seven of the past 10 games.
"This is a huge week," cornerback Almondo Curry said. "You've got guys from the same high schools playing against each other, from the same districts. We know it'll be pretty wild, and we're going to have fans talking to us. We've just got to block it out."
For Virginia, the silencer could be quarterback Matt Schaub, who has set school records for passing yards (2,751) and touchdowns (26) this season and has at least one TD pass in a record 12 consecutive games.
This week Schaub was voted the ACC's player of the year, and he'll be going against a defense that has been reeling, allowing nearly 250 yards rushing per game in the losses and with two new defensive tackles moving into starting roles because of injuries to Jason Lallis and Kevin Lewis.
"For some of us, this is the second-to-last games in our careers," Hokies senior safety Willie Pile said. "We want to pick it up and turn this around. We don't want to leave our last year on a sour note."
The Hokies' offense centers on tailbacks Lee Suggs and Kevin Jones, the latter of whom ran for 181 yards against the Cavaliers last season.
"It kind of doubles the challenge for us that each of these players is, in his own right, amongst the elite running backs in the country," Virginia coach Al Groh said. "It's unfortunate that I have to watch them from the other sideline. I'd rather just watch them on television."
The game also holds bowl ramifications for both teams, with the Hokies likely headed to the Insight Bowl or the Continental Tire Bowl and Virginia likely to get a Peach Bowl or Tangerine Bowl bid.


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