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Virginia Tech-Alabama Pregame Notes

ATLANTA – When Darren Evans suffered a season-ending knee injury, Virginia Tech lost the most important component to its offense. The Hokies three remaining running backs will likely need to step up if Virginia Tech is going to have success on offense this season.

The evidence is in the numbers.

The Hokies have historically relied on their rushing ability in lieu of a viable passing game. Under Coach Frank Beamer, who took over in 1987, the Hokies are 156-30-2 when outrushing opponents and 20-59 when being outrushed. They are 1-0 when the rushing total is even.

Those numbers were before the No. 7 Hokies' game against No. 5 Alabama on Saturday night.

The theme often bore true last season.

In the Hokies’ season-opening loss to East Carolina, they were outrushed, 158-104. In their loss to Florida State, they were outrushed, 89-82. And in their loss to Miami, they were outrushed, 123-77.

However, in a regular-season loss to Boston College, the Hokies outrushed the Eagles, 150-82.

For all Virginia Tech’s success running the ball, it certainly helps in the final outcome that the Hokies' defensive coordinator, Bud Foster, has a history of producing run-stopping defenses. In 178 games before Saturday’s against Alabama, Foster’s defenses held opponents to an average of 101.2 rushing yards per game.

Series History Not Pretty for Hokies

Virginia Tech and Alabama have a not-so-illustrious history. Especially for Hokies fans.

But the 1973 meeting was a particularly bad for Virginia Tech.

The Crimson Tide won, 77-6, racking up 833 yards of total offense, 748 on the ground. Alabama scored nine rushing touchdowns. Those totals still stand as Virginia Tech opponent records.

Saturday night was the schools’ 12th meeting. It was the first time Virginia Tech was ranked while playing Alabama. The Crimson Tide was ranked for the eighth time while playing the Hokies. And in 10 of the 11 prior meetings, Alabama was victorious.

The Hokies, however, won the most recent meeting, a 38-7 win in the 1998 Music City Bowl that set the table for their run to the national title game in the 1999 season.

Hokies Have Trouble With Top-10 Teams

Before Saturday, Virginia Tech played 10 times against a top-10 opponent while also ranked in the top 10. The Hokies were 2-8 in those games.

Virginia Tech’s only wins in those games came in 2004, over No. 9 Miami, and in 2003, over No. 2 Miami. The Hokies were ranked 10th in both of those upset victories.

Virginia Tech has lost each of its last five meetings with top-10 opponents while also ranked in the top 10.

By Mark Viera  |  September 5, 2009; 6:00 PM ET
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