It’s the visiting teams that are supposed to be the scared ones during Thursday night games in Lane Stadium.
However, this year it’s a different story entirely. Virginia Tech comes into this game with a losing record in November for the first time since 1992 — the last time they didn’t go to a bowl game.
For Florida State, it’s also been a year of change from its recent run of what some would call mediocrity. Since 2004, the Seminoles have just one 10-win season.
But the 'Noles sit at 8-1 right now, in full control of their own destiny in the Atlantic Division.
If the Hokies want to go bowling this season, they’ll have to win two of their final three games. And there’s no doubt Frank Beamer wants to go ahead and get one of those out of the way tonight.
With the way these two teams have been playing as of late, that seems near impossible — but, that’s why they play the game.
Here’s why I’m afraid of Florida State:
The Virginia Beach native — who might have ended up at Tech if not for Tyrod Taylor — has been having an impressive year, throwing for 2,315 yards to go along with 16 touchdowns and just four interceptions. More eye-popping than any of those numbers might be his completion percentage, which sits at 70.0 percent; only seven quarterbacks in the nation have completed at least 70 percent of their passes. Manuel can hurt you with his arm or his legs, and he’s the best quarterback the Hokies has faced all season. If they want a shot to win, they have absolutely got to rattle Manuel — who’s only been sacked 13 times all season.
THE RUSHING ATTACK
It doesn’t seem to matter who the Seminoles hand the football to these days; the holes are going to be there. The same offensive line that’s protected Manuel so well all season also has FSU ranked 14th in the nation in rushing offense, at over 234 yards per game. Even after starting running back Chris Thompson went down for the year with an ACL tear against Miami, the ‘Noles still racked up 261 rushing yards against Duke two weeks ago. Look for Devonta Freeman and James Wilder Jr. to split the carries tonight.
BJOERN WERNER/CORNELLIUS CARRADINE
The best name combo for defensive ends in the conference also happens to be the most dangerous on-the-field combo. Werner and Carradine have each recorded eight sacks on the season, which has them tied atop the ACC leaderboard. To put things in perspective, Tech has 18 sacks as a team in 2012. It’s safe to say Nick Becton and Vinston Painter will have their hands full with these two tonight.
Beamer hasn’t had much success against the Seminoles in his career at Tech, but he no doubt owes a lot of that to Bobby Bowden. After losing his first seven matchups to FSU, Beamer’s taken two of the last three, having won in 2007 and in the 2010 ACC Championship Game. Still — with a track record like that, you’ve got to think most Seminole fans will feel confident heading into tonight’s game.
There’s no sugar coating it — Tech is probably going to lose this game tonight. But I’ve said it before (already once in this column, actually) and I’ll say it until I’m dead: they play the game for a reason.
Here’s why I’m not afraid of the Seminoles: