Hokies should reverse SEC's hold on ACC

Virginia Tech has lost four consecutive games to Southeastern Conference opponents. ACC teams have dropped four straight Colonel Sanders Is A Chump Bowls to SEC squads. Since 2005, the SEC is 7-1 against the ACC in postseason.

The Hokies should defy those trends tonight in the Waffle Fries Rock Bowl against Tennessee at the Georgia Dome.

If not, their season is certainly a disappointment and arguably a failure.


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Based on body of work, Tech (9-3) deserves its status as a four-point favorite. But the same was true when the Hokies lost to visiting North Carolina in October and to SEC also-ran Georgia three years ago in this same game.

Like the aforementioned Tar Heels and Bulldogs, Tennessee (7-5) is unranked. Each of the teams the Volunteers defeated lost at least five games, and three — Western Kentucky, Memphis and Vanderbilt — lost at least 10.

Tennessee's most notable efforts were in defeat: 23-13 at Florida and 12-10 at Alabama, the latter decided when the Crimson Tide blocked a last-second field goal.

Conversely, 12th-ranked Virginia Tech bested three opponents — Big 12 North champ Nebraska, Miami and Conference USA kingpin East Carolina — that won nine regular-season games.

But this is SEC versus ACC, a prospect that likely causes full body rashes among Hokies and ACC faithful.

Yes, ACC squads are a respectable 8-9 against the SEC since the then-Peach Bowl began contracting with the two conferences. And yes, Florida State and Miami once lorded over Florida in the Sunshine State.

But the big picture bodes ill.

The SEC has placed the maximum two teams in the Bowl Championship Series seven times. The ACC never has and is 0-3 against the SEC in BCS games.

Since Florida State's 1999 BCS title, SEC teams have won four national championships, including the last three. ACC programs have won none.

Clemson's Music City Bowl victory over Kentucky on Sunday — the Tigers won the ACC's Atlantic Division, while the Wildcats tied for fourth in the SEC East — snapped a seven-game ACC losing streak to the SEC in postseason.

Virginia Tech is 3-7 against the SEC during Frank Beamer's 23 seasons as coach, including a 34-24 loss to top-ranked Alabama in September.

This regular season, Georgia Tech defeated Mississippi State and Vanderbilt, the only SEC teams with losing records. Otherwise the ACC was 0-5 against the SEC, including the conferences' three annual intrastate blood feuds: Florida-Florida State, South Carolina-Clemson and Georgia-Georgia Tech.

We could go on, but you know the score. ACC football lacks national credibility, especially when compared to the bigfoot SEC.

"It's always great to be playing for your conference," Virginia Tech tight end Greg Boone said, "but for me it's a little more personal. We've played three SEC teams since I've been here — Georgia, LSU and Alabama — and gone 0-3. As a senior, I really want to go out with a win."

The Hokies bested LSU in Blacksburg seven years ago and are 0-4 against the SEC since. They lost to Auburn in the Sugar Bowl after the 2004 season, to Georgia two seasons later, at LSU in 2007 (the sole blowout of the bunch) and to Alabama four months ago.

Virginia Tech entered the game against the Crimson Tide ranked seventh, eyeing a third straight conference championship and poised for a run at national contention. Consecutive October losses to Georgia Tech and North Carolina ixnayed those goals.

A fourth defeat, against an unranked opponent no less, would further tarnish a once-promising season. Losing to Alabama and Georgia Tech (combined 24-2) is one thing; stumbling against North Carolina and Tennessee (combined 15-10) is another.

Conversely, a victory tonight would give the Hokies back-to-back bowl wins for the first time and leave them on the cusp of their sixth top-10 finish in the polls, all since 1999. They'd also join Texas as the only Bowl Subdivision programs to win at least 10 games in each of the last six seasons.

The trend line is encouraging for Tech. The Hokies were 4-0 in November, and coordinator Bud Foster's defense did not yield a single second-half point in the process.

That said, three of Tech's November opponents were the ACC's worst teams: Maryland, North Carolina State and Virginia.

Tennessee is not the SEC's worst team. Not close.

But the Vols aren't SEC elite, either. This is a game the Hokies need to, and should, win.

David Teel can be reached at 247-4636 or by e-mail at dteel@dailypress.com. For more from Teel, read his blog at dailypress.com/teeltime

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