Different Tigers, Hokies enter ACC title rematch

The last time Virginia Tech saw Clemson, the Tigers were strolling out of Blacksburg with a 23-3 victory in the Hokies’ ACC opener.

But there is no question who the hotter team is entering Saturday night’s ACC Championship Game in Charlotte. Virginia Tech has not lost since that Oct. 1 defeat to Clemson, winning seven consecutive games by an average of 13.7 points to rise to No. 3 in the nation. The Hokies (11-1) have won the ACC three of the past four seasons (2007, 2008, 2010).

Clemson (9-3) is moving in the opposite direction. Following eight consecutive victories to open the season, the 21st ranked Tigers have dropped three of the past four, including a two-touchdown loss at Georgia Tech, and 20-plus point defeats to North Carolina State and South Carolina. The Clemson offense has scored just 74 points in its past four games, after averaging 40.6 points during its 8-0 start.

Clemson leads the series 18-12-1; the Oct. 1 victory broke Virginia Tech’s five-game winning streak in the series.

For Hokies quarterback Logan Thomas, the loss to Clemson marked a turning point. After passing for just 125 yards against the Tigers, Thomas has thrown 14 of his 18 touchdown passes during the Hokies’ seven-game win streak, and has added nine rushing touchdowns in that span. Running back David Wilson has 10 100-yard rushing games and 1,595 rushing yards on the year. The Hokies have found their stride on defense as well, ranking seventh in the nation in average points allowed (15.5).

For the first two months of the season, quarterback Tajh Boyd was one of the hottest signal-callers in the nation. But the sophomore has struggled mightily the past month. Boyd completed just 11-of-29 passes for 83 yards against South Carolina, and has thrown seven of his 10 interceptions in the past four games. Freshman receiver Sammy Watkins set ACC freshmen records for receptions (72), yards receiving (1,073) and touchdowns (10). The Clemson defense gave up a season-low in points against the Hokies, but has allowed 30 points or more six times.

TV: ESPN, 8 p.m. LINE: Virginia Tech -7.5.

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