- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 29, 2008

RICHMOND | This late in the season, teams hope to be playing for more than pride - even when it’s a matchup of in-state rivals. Count Virginia and Virginia Tech among those with more than bragging rights at stake.

The Hokies (7-4, 4-3 ACC) need to win Saturday to gain a berth in the conference championship game, which would put them one more win away from a spot in the Orange Bowl. The Cavaliers (5-6, 3-4) need to win simply to have a chance at a postseason game.

For Virginia Tech defensive end Orion Martin, one of 14 Hokies playing their last game at Lane Stadium, having a lot riding on the outcome after an up-and-down season only adds to the anticipation.

“Believe it or not, it’s been fun,” he said. “We’ve had our ups and down, but after all is said and done, we still control our own destiny.”

The Cavaliers’ ride has been even bumpier. After a 1-3 start when they were outscored 128-20 in the three losses, they won four straight and seemed destined to stay in the mix in the Coastal Division. Then they collapsed and arrive Saturday trying to stop a three-game losing streak - and to beat the Hokies for the first time in five years.

“We haven’t beaten them since I’ve been here,” senior safety Byron Glaspy said. “So how nice would it be to beat them, spoil their hopes of going to the ACC championship and send them home unhappy?”

Both teams come in hoping to find offensive consistency. Hokies coach Frank Beamer, who named quarterback Tyrod Taylor his starter, has bristled at questions about his anemic offense. He said getting to the brink of the title game with almost no veteran receivers or running backs has been a challenge.

“It hasn’t always been pretty,” he said. “You guys are into stats, and I understand that, but the bottom line is winning. I think you’ve got to take your football team and who you have. … What’s their maturity level? How much are they ready to win at this level? Then try to win as a football team. I think we’ve done a pretty good job of that myself.”

Virginia Tech’s offense is ranked No. 109 in the country, but the Hokies are eighth in total defense. Virginia is 102nd in offense, No. 40 on defense.

Redshirt freshman receiver Danny Coale, who leads the Hokies’ rebuilt receiving corps with 27 catches, said a win Saturday would be the ultimate answer to critics.

“For us as a team, it’s the next step in reaching our goal,” he said.

Martin and Coale were the only two Virginia Tech players made available to the media this week. Beamer called the game “gigantic” and said he wanted his team focused solely on it.

But the Cavaliers are amped up, too, hoping to earn the right to play one more time.

“It makes things exciting,” linebacker Clint Sintim said. “A lot of things are at stake.”

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