When the Virginia Tech Hokies and Florida State Seminoles step onto the field this Saturday in Charlotte, N.C. ,for the ACC Championship Game, it will be a familiar setting for the two teams.
The matchups between the Hokies (10-2, 8-0 ACC) and Seminoles (9-3, 6-2 ACC) seem to attract the biggest stages, including the 1999 National Championship, the 2001 Gator Bowl and the inaugural ACC Championship in 2005. However, despite the marquee games these two programs have been involved in, it has largely been a one-sided affair, as FSU owns an 8-1 record against the Hokies with Frank Beamer as head coach.
“Florida State is just hard to beat,” Beamer said. “There’s just no question about it. That was back then. You know, again, they’ve got good players, and they’re well-coached, I’m sure. So they’re going to be a hard team to beat now.”
If there is one consolation for Beamer, he will not see his old nemesis Bobby Bowden roaming the sidelines with his trademark straw hat. Bowden’s highly publicized departure after last season paved the way for first-year head coach Jimbo Fisher. The former FSU offensive coordinator and quarterback coach has led the Seminoles to their first nine-win season since 2003.
“I think at Florida State the bar is always high,” Fisher said. “That’s one of the reasons this is such a great job. I think it takes it off in the part they realize that our staff and the things we’re doing do work and we can have success. Hopefully, that will bring in more recruits and more things.”
Leading the Seminoles offensive attack is quarterback Christian Ponder. The senior from Colleyville, Tex., was slated as a preseason Heisman hopeful, however he never fully lived up to that hype this season. FSU ranks just 52nd in total offense — even Virginia ranks ahead of the Seminoles — and statistically, Ponder has taken a hit this season, as well.
His completion percentage dropped from 68.8 percent in 2009 to 62.2 percent this season and his yardage dipped from 2,717 to 2,038. To be fair, Ponder has increased his touchdown tally from 14 to 20 this year. Additionally, FSU’s receivers have been criticized for dropping passes and Ponder has also been bothered by an elbow injury on his throwing arm.