(Even) OFFENSE: There’s only one quarterback (Kenny Pickett) in the ACC averaging more passes per game than Bryce Perkins. He’s been particularly effective the last three weeks with 835 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions while completing 69 percent of his passes. He’s also picked up his production on the ground during that stretch with 248 rushing yards and four touchdowns. Virginia Tech has found success emphasizing its rushing attack with more 220 yards in four of the last six games. The Hokies have spread the carries around too with quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers and tight ends all featuring into the run game.
(Virginia Tech) DEFENSE: The defenses are fairly evenly matched statistically. Tech's pass defense lags behind its ACC rival this season, but Virginia’s depleted secondary (All-American defensive back Bryce Hall and safety Brenton Nelson are out for the season) has shown some cracks in recent weeks. The Cavaliers have given up an average of 298 passing yards the last three weeks and eight passing touchdowns. They have given up more than 300 yards twice during that stretch, something they hadn’t done all season before that. Virginia Tech comes into the game injury-free on the defensive side of the ball having shut out opposing teams for nine straight quarters. The Hokies inspired defensive play couldn’t have come at a better time.
(Even) SPECIAL TEAMS: Virginia receiver Joe Reed is easily the most dangerous returner Virginia Tech has faced all season. Reed, who is playing in his fourth Commonwealth Cup, would love nothing more to cap his terrific career as a returner by adding a score against his rival. He had a big game receiving against Tech last season with four catches for 119 yards and two touchdowns. Tech’s special teams have been outstanding all season long and can’t afford to let up now.
(Even) INTANGIBLES: Both teams have so much to play for on Friday. Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall has emphasized the importance of beating Tech since taking over in 2016, but is 0-3. The Hokies meanwhile are desperate to keep its 15-game win streak in the Commonwealth Cup going. There have been some close calls in recent years with last season’s 34-31 overtime win at the top of the list. This year’s game has even bigger implications with the Coastal Title and a trip to the ACC Championship on the line. Oh, and this will be Bud Foster’s final time coaching in the rivalry game.