Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech both should be well rested for a matchup that once again could determine the ACC Coastal Division champion.
With each team fresh off a bye week, the 10th-ranked and division-leading Hokies try for a fifth consecutive victory Thursday night when they visit the No. 20 Yellow Jackets.
Each season since 2005, the winner of this contest has gone on to represent the Coastal Division in the ACC championship game. Virginia Tech (8-1, 4-1) has won four of those last six meetings, including 28-21 at home in 2010, although the Hokies lost 28-23 in their last game at Georgia Tech (7-2, 4-2) in 2009.
"This game has been a big part of the division race," Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said. "Again this year, if we lose we're out of the race, so to speak, so it's a big game for us."
Virginia Tech star running back David Wilson is chomping at the bit to play as the Hokies prepare to hit the field for the first time since outlasting Duke 14-10 on Oct. 29. Wilson's 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown with less than three minutes remaining was the difference in last season's meeting with the Yellow Jackets.
"I'm going to be anxious to get back on the field," Wilson told the school's official athletics website. "Eleven days is a long time."
Wilson, the nation's second-leading rusher with 1,185 yards, ran 23 times for 148 yards against Duke. It was his sixth straight 100-yard game and eighth overall this season. He totaled 39 yards on seven carries versus Georgia Tech in 2010, including a rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter before his big return.
Though Wilson continues to pace the Hokies offense, they likely can't afford another performance like their last against the Blue Devils. Virginia Tech rushed for 243 of its 433 total yards, but sophomore Logan Thomas threw a pair of interceptions and the Hokies were held without a point in the second half.
"Every week's not going to be just magnificent," coach Frank Beamer said. "But sometimes when you can get through a game when it wasn't so good and get a win, that's big in the big picture."
The Hokies have remained stingy on defense, holding each of their last three opponents to 17 points or fewer.
They shut down Duke and forced four turnovers without leading tackler Bruce Taylor, who sustained a season-ending right foot sprain in a 30-14 win over Boston College on Oct. 22. Taylor became the Hokies' fourth defensive player -- and third starter on that side of the ball -- lost for the season.
Virginia Tech ranks sixth in the nation allowing 86.3 rushing yards per contest, but will face the team with the second-best running attack in the country.
Georgia Tech averages 328.0 rushing yards after a 383-yard effort on the ground in a 31-17 home win over previously undefeated and then-No. 6 Clemson on Oct. 29. That victory came after the Yellow Jackets fell in consecutive games at Virginia and Miami, but they've averaged 41.0 points during a six-game home winning streak.
"We know what we can do as a team," junior quarterback Tevin Washington said. "It's not about falling down. It's about getting back up."
After throwing three interceptions in the two losses and rushing for just 36 yards on 20 carries against the Hurricanes, Washington ran 27 times for a season-high 176 yards and a touchdown versus Clemson.
"Hopefully, he got some confidence back," Johnson said. "I thought he did some things really well. You don't know until you've played. I don't know that Tevin has ever really lacked for confidence. But anytime you've played well it's got to be a plus."
Washington threw an interception and was sacked twice against Virginia Tech last season, completing 2 of 7 passes for 80 yards. He also ran 11 times for 45 yards in that contest.
Top 25 Overview
The winner of this game has won the Coastal Division in each of the past six years, and a Virginia Tech win Thursday night would eliminate not only Georgia Tech but also Miami in the ACC race. If the Yellow Jackets win, they would be tied with Virginia and Virginia Tech for first in the loss column in the Coastal Division.