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Posted at 10:29 AM ET, 11/29/2010

Beamer looks to reverse course against FSU

By Mark Giannotto

Since joining the ACC in 2004, Virginia Tech Coach Frank Beamer has a losing record against just one conference opponent, and as luck would have it, the Hokies will face them Saturday in the ACC Championship game.

Florida State has defeated Virginia Tech two of the three times they've met in conference play, including a win in the inaugural ACC Championship game in 2005. In fact, Beamer is just 1-7 all-time when facing the Seminoles, and 0-3 in the postseason.

In addition to that ACC Championship loss five years ago -- a game the Hokies were heavy favorites in since they entered it ranked No. 5 in the country -- Virginia Tech famously lost to Florida State in the 1999 national championship game and two years later suffered a 30-17 defeat to the Seminoles in the 2001 Gator Bowl.

Beamer's lone victory against Florida State came in a 30-20 win back in 2007, when Tyrod Taylor -- then just a true freshman -- had his first memorable performance as Virginia Tech quarterback. Taylor threw for 204 yards and rushed for another 92, and Seminoles Coach Bobby Bowden gushed afterwards that he wasn't expecting to see "the second coming of Vick" on the field.

"Florida State's just got that name. I mean they do, and I think we're getting that name," Beamer said Sunday in a media teleconference. "Florida State is just hard to beat."

But these aren't the same Seminoles that won the ACC title outright or tied for first place nine consecutive times after joining the conference in 1992. Before this year, Florida State had a combined record of 16-16 against ACC foes the previous four seasons.

Beamer acknowledged that the dominance Florida State enjoyed a decade ago is not possible with so much parity these days. But in a strange coincidence, with its win over Virginia this past weekend, Virginia Tech became the first ACC team since the Seminoles in 2000 to go undefeated in conference play. This year, though, Florida State has undergone a revitalization of sorts under first-year Coach Jimbo Fisher.

Though some believe the school did wrong by legendary Coach Bobby Bowden, forcing him out before he wanted to retire, it appears the move was the right one, at least in the short term. But Fisher admitted Sunday that the ACC landscape has changed this decade, and the Hokies have become the program everyone else aspires to.

"To accomplish what [Beamer's] accomplished, what he's done there, is amazing," Fisher said. "To have seven-straight 10-win seasons in a league as competitive as this one and play and a good non-conference schedule and in their bowl games, he's done one of the best jobs in all [of] America."

As for this Saturday's game, though many of the players are different from Virginia Tech's 2007 victory over Florida State, Taylor is the one key figure still around and his performance will likely decide who goes to the Orange Bowl.

Florida State leads the nation in sacks with 43, but its pass defense has been shaky at times and ranks 63rd in the country in terms of yardage given up. While Virginia Tech was able to combat an aggressive Miami defensive front with a pounding running game two weeks ago, only 10 teams are allowing fewer than the 3.28 yards per carry the Seminoles have given up thus far.

However, dynamic quarterbacks are the primary reason behind Florida State's three losses this year. In a 47-17 loss to Oklahoma in the second game of the season, quarterback Landry Jones threw for 380 yards and four touchdowns. In a 28-24 loss to North Carolina State, quarterback Russell Wilson had four total touchdowns (one passing, three rushing) -- though Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder ran into his own teammate and fumbled with a man wide open in the end zone for a game-winning touchdown. The next week, in a 37-35 loss to North Carolina, T.J. Yates threw for 439 yards and three touchdowns.

I would think at this point, if there's one player Virginia Tech is comfortable shouldering these sorts of expectations, it is Taylor. He's one of the favorites to win ACC Player of the Year when that award is announced Wednesday, and now owns almost every statistic school record when it comes to quarterbacks.

By Mark Giannotto  | November 29, 2010; 10:29 AM ET
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Next: Poll: Virginia Tech's potential Orange Bowl opponent


'Noles take this game....35-24 is my guess...

Posted by: jcard14 | November 29, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse

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