Around the ACC: Big Game Hunters

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Hokies take on Buckeyes at 8 p.m. Saturday on ESPN

This week’s Atlantic Coast Conference non-league schedule includes Virginia Tech’s road trip to No. 8 Ohio State, where the Hokies expect to play before the largest crowd in school history, as well an ESPN national audience. Kickoff on Saturday evening is set for shortly after 8 p.m. 

Close to 105,000 fans are expected at Columbus’ Ohio Stadium. The two biggest crowds to see a Virginia Tech football game to date were each a shade over 90,000 – a record 92,739 for the 2007 road trip to LSU and 91,655 for the 2004 opener against Southern Cal at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland.

“It’s a challenge for our football team,” said Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer, who played 10 true freshmen in last weekend’s 34-9 season-opening win over William & Mary. “For a young team going to a stadium with the largest crowd we’ve ever played before – we’ll see how they respond. Last week was a good opening game for us, and we’ll see how we do this week.”

The game matches two of college football’s premier coaches. Beamer leads all active FBS coaches with 267 career wins. Urban Meyer owns a 25-2 record in two season at Ohio State, including a 15-0 record at home, and stands 129-25 overall in just a shade over 12 years of college coaching.

“Meyer’s reputation follows him,” Beamer said. “He’s a very knowledgeable coach and very good overall. They do a great job in their kicking game and I know he’s involved in that. They are a top program with great players who are well coached. You say that most times, but they really are a well-coached football team.”

If the Hokies are in search of behind-the-scenes insight, they might not have to search far. Hokies offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler worked as quarterbacks coach under Meyer at Florida in 2009 and 2010. The Gators posted a 21-6 record over those seasons and led the nation in passing efficiency in 2009 (Tim Tebow’s senior year).

“I think all Scott’s going to do is scare us about what we’re getting ready to get into,” Beamer joked. But kidding aside, Beamer and the Hokies are excited about Saturday night’s opportunity.

“Any time you are playing one of the best programs in the country and a team that people mention for a national championship and you can go in and get a win it’s great for the program,” Beamer said. “I love going into a full stadium. Their fans are excited, and we’re going to take quite a few people ourselves. But I love to play in that type of environment rather than a stadium that’s half empty and no one cares what’s going on. I like that atmosphere and I think our players do, too. It’s exciting to play on primetime TV.”

Virginia Tech will seek to improve on a fast start by the ACC in nonconference play. The ACC’s 9-3 record in Week 1 tied for the second-most nonconference wins in one week in league history. Only the 10 wins accumulated Sept. 2-6, 2010 rank higher. Two of last weekend’s losses by ACC teams came against opponents currently ranked among the nation’s top 11.

The Virginia Tech-Ohio State game is one of at least 11 games this season that ACC teams will play against teams ranked in this year’s AP preseason Top 25, the most of any Power Five Conference. The ACC is scheduled to play 17 total regular-season games against Power Five Conference opponents, tied for the most among the group.