59F David A. Harrison III Field at Scott Stadium, Charlottesville, VA
Virginia Tech competing for a spot in the ACC title game is unsurprising. The fact that Virginia is also in contention is much more unexpected.
The sixth-ranked Hokies visit the 24th-ranked Cavaliers on Saturday with the first place in the conference's Coastal Division on the line.
Virginia Tech (10-1, 6-1) entered the season with its usual high expectations, and with a win Saturday can clinch its fourth trip to the ACC title game in five years.
Standing in the Hokies' way are the surprising Cavaliers (8-3, 5-2), who moved into the Top 25 this week for the first time since 2007. They have won four straight and kept Virginia Tech from clinching the division last Saturday by defeating then-No. 23 Florida State 14-13.
Playing in such a big game late in November is unusual for Virginia, which has never appeared in the ACC title game and entered this season with seven wins over the previous two years.
"I'm an eternal optimist," coach Mike London said. "It's really fun to watch the maturity of the players that are playing. It only makes you better as you feel more confidence towards your abilities and you start to develop the idea that you think you can win."
The Cavaliers will have more obstacles to overcome this weekend. They've lost seven straight and 11 of 12 against Virginia Tech. However, they also have two wins against ranked teams this season, giving them a shot to defeat three teams in the Top 25 for the first time since 2002.
London's team will have a difficult task in slowing down Virginia Tech. The Hokies have won six in a row and are well rested. They'll be taking the field for the first time since Nov. 17, when they held on for a 24-21 victory over North Carolina.
Logan Thomas threw for 195 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another. During the six-game winning streak, the sophomore quarterback has thrown 12 TD passes, has eight rushing scores and is averaging 284.8 yards total offense.
With nine rushing touchdowns total, Thomas is three shy of the school record for a quarterback in a single season.
"He's like a massive giant when he runs," Virginia defensive coordinator Jim Reid said of the 6-foot-6, 254-pound Thomas. "I've watched him run the quarterback sneak for 14 yards running through everybody. Nobody could stop him."
Two of Thomas' favorite targets are also closing in on school records. With 50 receptions, Jarrett Boykin is six away from breaking the Virginia Tech single-season mark, while Danny Coale is two catches behind Boykin and needs 202 receiving yards to break Andre Davis' record of 962 set in 1999.
"You talk about those two kids, and neither one of them are real loud," coach Frank Beamer said. "They just go play. You can count on them, and in this business, that's big. You know exactly what you're going to get. They'll make a play for you when you need them to. They've both had great careers here, and I'm proud of them."
On the ground, the Hokies boast one of the nation's top running backs in David Wilson, who is averaging 131.1 rushing yards per game but will look to bounce back after his streak of seven straight 100-yard games ended when he was held to a season-low 82 against North Carolina.
Putting up big offensive numbers won't be easy against Virginia, which is limiting opponents to an average of 17.0 points over its last four games.
The Hokies won last season's meeting 37-7 in Blacksburg as Wilson ran for 83 yards and a touchdown.