Since Virginia Tech entered the ACC in 2004, no football team has beaten the Hokies more than Boston College. Moreover, other than Miami, no opponent has defeated Tech more than BC since the programs began playing in 1993.
The annual Hokies-Eagles game probably hinges on whether ACC athletic directors place Syracuse in the conference’s Atlantic Division and Pittsburgh in the Coastal, or vice-versa. League officials, commissioner John Swofford among them, have said adding the Orange and Panthers to the existing divisions is far more likely than a start-from-scratch realignment.
(The Big East is threatening to delay Syracuse and Pitt's exit until 2014, though 2013 seems more reasonable.)
If Pitt is deployed to the Coastal and Syracuse to the Atlantic, then they figure to become yearly crossover opponents, as Virginia Tech (Coastal) and Boston College (Atlantic) have been since the Eagles joined the ACC in 2005. But if Syracuse goes to the Coastal and Pitt to the Atlantic, then look for the crossovers to become Tech-Pitt and Syracuse-Boston College.
Those pairings would be far more fan-friendly than Tech-BC and Pitt-Syracuse. Pittsburgh, according to Mapquest, is approximately 320 miles from Blacksburg, a reasonable drive similar to the Hampton Roads-Blacksburg haul. Boston is more than twice as far away, about 715 miles.
Meanwhile, Syracuse will be Boston College’s closest ACC neighbor, approximately 310 miles, 50 miles closer than Pittsburgh.
“We’d love to have Pitt (as a crossover), and I think Boston College would prefer Syracuse,” Tech associate athletic director Tom Gabbard told me.
Including conference championship games, the Hokies are a stout 56-13 in ACC play over eight seasons. Three of those defeats were to the Eagles – regular season meetings in 2006, ’07, ’08, the latter two avenged in title-game rematches.
Tech and Boston College have met 20 times in the last 19 seasons – they missed 2004, the Hokies’ first year in the ACC and Eagles’ last in the Big East – with Tech leading the series 14-6. Their two most memorable collisions were in Blacksburg.
The Hokies completed their perfect 1999 regular season with a 38-14 rout of the Eagles, securing their place in the national championship game. Matt Ryan threw two touchdown passes in the waning minutes in 2007 to rally No. 2 Boston College to a 14-10 victory over No. 8 Tech.
The series has turned one-sided recently with the Hokies winning the last four meetings by a combined 127-40.
To which divisions the ACC assigns Pitt and Syracuse -- a decision is expected in February -- is difficult to handicap. Recent coaching turnover notwithstanding, the Panthers appear the stronger program, and since Atlantic Division teams are 69-64 all-time against the Coastal, perhaps that prompts moving Pitt to the Coastal in an attempt to balance.
Or, given Pitt’s relative proximity to Maryland’s campus (approximately 245 miles), maybe the Panthers head to the Atlantic, where they could have annual games with the Terps and Hokies.
Regardless of division assignments, Virginia Tech and Pitt are almost certain to play each season – the Hokies were 7-4 against the Panthers during their Big East time and are scheduled to play a non-conference game at Pitt next season – either as crossovers or division rivals. The question is whether Tech-Boston College remains an annual affair or is, essentially, replaced by Tech-Syracuse.
Pitt is 6-6 entering the BBVA Compass Bowl against Southern Methodist and is enduring yet another coaching transition as Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst – his brother Rick is a former ACC associate commissioner -- replaces job-hopping Todd Graham, who bailed after one season for Arizona State. But the Panthers were a combined 27-12 from 2008-10 and won bowls in 2009 and ‘10.
Syracuse was 5-7 this season, 1-6 in the Big East. The Orange have enjoyed one winning season, 2010, in the last decade. Tech and Syracuse split 12 Big East meetings from 1992-2003.
The Eagles were 4-8 this year, their first losing season since 1998 and worst record since 1995. That ended a streak of 12 consecutive bowl appearances.
Syracuse or BC? Preference, Hokies faithful?
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