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November 30, 2007

Who has the edge: Boston College vs. Va. Tech

MORE: Bad memories |

Game of the Week: No. 6 Virginia Tech vs. No. 12 Boston College
Virginia Tech run offense vs. Boston College run defense
EDGE: Boston College Hobbled by injuries all year, TB Branden Ore finally emerged for his first 100-yard game of the season with 147 yards against Virginia. Using athletic true freshman Tyrod Taylor at quarterback also gives the Hokies added options in the running game. Boston College has been among the best in the country at stopping the run, ranking second in the nation. Ore had 97 yards in the first meeting. BC held Georgia Tech's Tashard Choice to 31 yards and Clemson's James Davis to 10 this season
Virginia Tech pass offense vs. Boston College pass defense
EDGE: Virginia Tech The biggest change in the rematch will be the change in Virginia Tech's quarterback situation. Taylor didn't play at all in the first meeting. Now the Eagles can expect the Hokies to switch between junior Sean Glennon and Taylor, even during a possession. The Hokies' offensive line, reshuffled since injures, kept Virginia's Chris Long from taking over the game. Boston College answers with DE Nick Larkin (five sacks).
Boston College run offense vs. Virginia Tech run defense
EDGE: Virginia Tech Boston College TBs Andre Callender and L.V. Whitworth accounted for only 32 fewer yards from scrimmage than the more heralded tailback duo at Clemson. For the Eagles, though, a sizable chunk of that is Callender's 613 receiving yards. Virginia Tech swarms around the ball with ILBs Xavier Adibi and Vince Hall, while brothers Orion Martin at defensive end and Cam Martin at outside linebacker have stepped up their ability to get behind the line of scrimmage.
Boston College pass offense vs. Virginia Tech pass defense
EDGE: Boston College Virginia Tech frustrated Matt Ryan for 56 minutes in their last meeting, sacking him three times and intercepting him twice in Blacksburg, Va. When the Hokies backed off the pass rush, Ryan flourished with his scrambling ability on touchdown drives in the final two possessions. Virginia Tech remembers what worked and could return with a similar game plan. Playing on what is expected to be a clear, sunny day in Jacksonville rather than in the downpour in Blacksburg could be an edge in the favor of Ryan.
Virginia Tech kicking game vs. Boston College kicking game
EDGE: Virginia Tech No one plays special teams like Virginia Tech. In the Hokies' last game against Virginia, Virginia Tech blocked a punt, Jud Dunlevy converted all four of his field-goal attempts and Justin Harper (not Eddie Royal, the ACC's leading career punt returner) had a 43-yard return. BC's special teams are a different story. K Steve Aponavicius is only 5-for-10 on field-goal attempts of at least 30 yards. BC is last in the ACC in punt returns and ninth in kickoff returns.
Virginia Tech coaching staff vs. Boston College coaching staff
EDGE: Virginia Tech Eagles coach Jeff Jagodzinski is used to preparing for a team twice in one season from his days as an NFL assistant. Frank Beamer won't have to work too hard to motivate a Virginia Tech team still wounded from the fourth-quarter loss in October. Neither team should feel that comfortable in a rematch, because of the things that went wrong for each team earlier in the season.
Virginia Tech will win if
The pressure remains constant on Ryan. He didn't heat up in October until he was given time to throw. Virginia Tech will need more than 10 points this time, too. Glennon, Ore and WR Eddie Royal all had their best games of the season against Virginia. That improved play must continue this weekend.
Boston College will win if
The Eagles can't get fooled by Virginia Tech's quarterback switcheroo. The Glennon-Taylor rotation invigorated the Hokies' offense in wins over Florida State, Miami and Virginia. The rotation helped Tech neutralize Virginia DE Chris Long. In addition, BC can't wait until the final five minutes to score. Virginia Tech's offense is much more capable than it was on Oct. 25.
Virginia Tech's quarterback rotation. Other than the expected improved weather conditions and the neutral site, this is the single biggest change since the first meeting. Without Taylor, Glennon was 15 of 25 for 149 yards with a touchdown while taking three sacks against Boston College. Those numbers could improve if Boston College's defense is caught off-balance when the Hokies change quarterbacks every four or five snaps.
The picks
Fox's pick: Virginia Tech 28-21
Other Rivals.com expert picks:
Steve Megargee, national college football writer: Virginia Tech 20-17
Mike Huguenin, college sports editor: Virginia Tech 21-17
Bill King, Rivals Radio host: Virginia Tech 31-21
Check out the rest of the Rivals.com Expert Picks.

David Fox is a national college football writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at dfox@rivals.com.

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