Thursday Night Lights

PHOTO: Virginia Tech CB Kendall Fuller

Virginia Tech visits Pitt as Week 8 starts early

GREENSBORO, N.C. (theACCcom) – Thursday night ACC football games on ESPN have become a mainstay of October and November, and the longstanding tradition resumes tonight.

When Pitt plays host to Virginia Tech at 7:30, it will mark the first of five Thursday night ACC games that ESPN will broadcast to national audiences over the next six weeks. 

Virginia Tech returns to the Thursday night stage on Oct. 23 when it plays host to Miami, followed by Florida State at Louisville (Oct. 30), Clemson at Wake Forest (Nov. 6) and North Carolina at Duke (Nov. 20).

As Pitt went through practice this week, head coach Paul Chryst wanted his team to simply focus on Virginia Tech and the ramifications of this important ACC contest. Pitt (3-3 overall) and Virginia Tech (4-2) both own 1-1 ACC records, so tonight’s outcome could loom crucial in the Coastal Division title chase.

But Chryst knew the chance to play in the ESPN Thursday night game wasn’t something the Panthers could simply regard as a footnote.

“They’re aware of it, and I think it’s one of the great reasons why you come to a place like Pitt,” Chryst said of his players. “You get to play those big games, and they recognize that. In many ways, Thursday Night Football is kind of like the Monday Night (Football) of the NFL.”

Virginia Tech is no stranger to Thursday nights on ESPN, posting a 20-7 record in 27 prior appearances. The Hokies own an impressive 9-3 record in Thursday night road games.

Both teams had open dates last Saturday, allowing for a much-needed midseason break. Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said the Hokies took most of last week off, and he saw a sharper, fresher group that resumed practice this past Sunday.“I think mentally resting your mind a little bit from the grind is important,” Beamer said. “We came back and had a great practice. Sometimes when you’re away, you come back and it takes a while to get back into it, but I think we understand how important a game we’ve got. We understand how much we need to practice well to prepare for it. I was pleased to see us come back and get into it.” 

This week will mark the 89th ESPN Thursday night game involving at least one ACC team. This year’s schedule has also featured a Labor Day Monday matchup (Miami at Louisville) and two Friday night games (Pitt at Boston College on Sept. 5; Louisville at Syracuse on Oct. 3). Another Friday game is set for Nov. 28, when Virginia Tech plays host to Virginia in the regular-season finale.