Virginia Tech used Thursday night games to build an exciting profile during its rise in prominence, showing off a defense that flew around making stops and special teams that made big plays.
The Hokies have won 19 of their last 24 games on Thursday nights, and many of those victories came in a fashion that highlighted their ability to score quickly in all three phases of the game.
Coach Frank Beamer's team has hardly resembled that program this season, but they hope to rediscover that swagger in a pair of Thursday night games the next two weeks — beginning this week at Miami (4-4, 3-2). Next week, they get No. 9 Florida State at home, where they have not lost this season.
The Hokies (4-4, 2-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) have played back-to-back Thursday night games in eight of the past nine seasons, and Beamer loves the opportunity the stage provides to let the nation know what the Hokies are all about.
"It's kind of like Monday Night Football in the NFL," Beamer said of the Thursday night spotlight. "You're generally the only game on or one of two games on, and all of the other college teams and coaches are watching you, so it's a big stage and you just want to perform well. This time of the year you want to be playing for something and we are and they are. It's going to be a tough, physical football game."
The winner stays earns a leg up in the battle to win the ACC's Coastal Division.
Virginia Tech has dominated the ACC since joining the league in 2004, reaching the ACC title game five times in seven seasons. They came into this season 27-5 in league road games, but have been beaten handily in their only two conference road games so far — 48-34 at North Carolina and 38-17 at No. 10 Clemson. They are 0-4 away from Blacksburg.
Quarterback Logan Thomas is at a loss to explain the turnaround, and said while the Hokies can't undo the disappointment of how they've faltered so far this season, they still can salvage something big by coming together.
"I don't think anything would make up for it, but it would definitely be something that would make us feel better about the season," he said of winning the division. "We've got a sour taste in our mouths and we don't like it, but getting to the ACC championship would be something huge for us, and we know we can do it if we just play well.