- - Friday, November 25, 2011

Shane Beamer spent 11 years away from Virginia Tech, but his dislike for Virginia didn’t wane.

“Your feelings towards U.Va. don’t change in those 11 years,” said Beamer, the Hokies running backs coach. “It’s exciting to be back and a part of this rivalry.”

Beamer, a former Tech player who made stops at Georgia Tech, Tennessee, Mississippi State and South Carolina as an assistant coach before joining the Hokies’ staff this season, says the Virginia Tech-Virginia rivalry is as heated as any he’s experienced.

A few more coals will be added to the fire Saturday when the teams face off in Charlottesville with the ACC’s Coastal Division championship on the line.

Today’s winner advances to play Clemson next week in the ACC championship game in Charlotte.

“I’ve been a part of Tennessee-Florida. I’ve been a part of Ole Miss-Mississippi State. I’ve been a part of Georgia Tech-Georgia. I’ve been a part of South Carolina-Clemson, and this one is as heated as any of them,” said Beamer, the son of Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer.

“Obviously at those places, I was there two years, three years, four years, so you develop a dislike for your rival in those years, but this one has been going on for … I’m 34-years-old. I guess this one has been kind of brewing for 34 years, so it’s a little more heated and intense for the Beamer family and myself.”

No. 6 Virginia Tech (10-1, 6-1 ACC) is trying to clinch its fifth division title in the last seven years, but No. 24 Virginia (8-3, 5-2) stands in its way.

The resurgent Cavaliers, who are bowl-eligible after three straight losing seasons, could win their first Coastal Division crown by taking down the Hokies, who have won seven straight in the series.

“We know exactly what’s at stake,” Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster said. “There are no issues about that. We respect Virginia. We see that they’re a good football team. They’re not just where they are because they’ve got a horseshoe up their butt. They’ve earned it.”

The Hokies beat the Cavaliers in 2007 in a de facto Coastal Division championship game. Tech went on to win two more division titles in the next three years, while U.Va. fell on some tough times.

But second-year coach Mike London has the Cavaliers playing well, and they’re back in the hunt for championships.

“It’s not like they’ve had a bunch of 0-12 seasons here for the last 11 years. I know they hit some rough times, but coach [Al] Groh had them in some bowl games, and four years ago, this game was for exactly what it’s for this Saturday, so I don’t want to make it sound like Virginia has been one of the doormats of NCAA football, because that’s not the case at all,” Beamer said.

“They’ve recruited well. They had a couple of rough times, and coach London has come in and done a good job of getting them turned around quickly, there’s no question about it.”

The division title isn’t the only thing on the line today for the Hokies. They’re trying to match the longest win streak by either team in the series, and they’re attempting to become only the second team in school history to win 11 games in the regular season.

Also, they’re hoping to extend their ACC-record road win streak to 13. Today might be the toughest of those contests.

“They’re going to play their hardest. They’re going to play hard every time they play against us, because it’s a hate thing,” Tech cornerback Jayron Hosley said. “Virginia Tech and U.Va., they don’t like each other, so you know there’s going to be head-butting out on the field. It’s something you’ve got to look for.”

Tech’s players expect a hard-fought game and they wouldn’t be surprised to get some harsh treatment from the Cavaliers’ fans.

“I’m pretty sure it’s going to be pretty graphic going up there this week with so much at stake,” Hokies running back David Wilson said. “In the past, their fans have been the way they are without their team being as successful. So for them to even have breath and knowing that their team has a chance to do great things this year, they’ll step it up a notch, as well as their players on the field.”

Read Nathan Warters’ Virginia Tech blog at VTeffect.com

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