Think you’ve got to wait until the BCS National Championship Game to get a much-unwanted re-match between two top teams? Think again, as both the Big Ten Championship Game (discussed later on today at Crystal Ball Run) and ACC Championship Game are both rematches from early season games.
Still, if you think Clemson’s 23-3 win in Blacksburg back in early October is any indication of what is to come this weekend, well then, you better think again.
Here’s our staff’s on this year’s ACC title game.
ACC Championship: No. 5 Virginia Tech Hokies vs. No. 20 Clemson Tigers: Saturday, 8:00 p.m. ABC (Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC)
Michael Felder’s Take: Clemson and Virginia Tech met early in the year and we saw the Tigers prove themselves to suffocating on defense and too explosive on offense for the Hokies to muster much of an effort. Then the next eight weeks of the season happened and Clemson unraveled as Virginia Tech revved up their production. David Wilson blew up. Logan Thomas grew up. The defense manned up.
Which brings us to now, where Virginia Tech is a Top 10 team with one loss, while Clemson's a Top 25 team with three L's and on a downward trend. Two ships passing in the night. One team improving week to week, playing their best ball now while the other is baling water trying to stay afloat.
Throw in the fact this game has become the VPI Invitational and voila! No reason the Hokies don't punch out the Tigers and get back to the Orange Bowl as they’ve done so often this decade.
The Pick: Virginia Tech 34, Clemson 24
Tom Perry’s Take: Just when you thought the BCS National Championship would be the only rematch, welcome to the ACC where we get Clemson and Virginia Tech in Charlotte. This does mean we'll have more than 4,800 fans in the stadium, right?
Clemson actually put a beat down on Virginia Tech in Blacksburg earlier this season, but the Dabo Swinney’s have stumbled down the stretch like every other Clemson team since Danny Ford's 1981 team won it all.
It's hard to imagine that Logan Thomas and David Wilson won't take care of business for Tech and win the rematch. However, if Tajh Boyd, Sammy Watkins and Andre Ellington can get things clicking I won't be shocked to see Clemson pull out a win.
The Pick: Virginia Tech 24, Clemson 17
Regie Eller’s Take: The Clemson Tigers have picked as bad a time as any to falter both offensively and defensively. Opposing Clemson, Virginia Tech seems to be everything Clemson is not: Thirsty, hungry and motivated. The Hokies are not content and not done.
That sound you heard in Atlanta a few weeks ago - when Clemson traveled to take on Georgia Tech - was the sound of Tigers being minced. The Hokies lone loss was to the Tigers but it was a deceiving one. This time around, Virginia Tech is healthy and I believe that is all that matters.
Logan Thomas, healthy. David Wilson, healthy. Hokies run away with this one.
The Pick: Virginia Tech 31, Clemson 14
Allen Kenney’s Take: Clemson is Clemson-ing its way to the close of the most Clemson season ever. Virginia Tech churned enough butter this year to find its way back to the ACC title game, like Frank Beamer does with such regularity.
Put simply: Are you more boring or crazy? Choose wisely.
Me, I see very little reason to go against Beamerball. The Hokies have dominated this game for too long to think this won't be more of the same.
The Pick: Virginia Tech 31, Clemson 24
Aaron Torres’ Take: Truth be told, I have no great feel for this game. All I know is that Virginia Tech is playing great ball, and seems greatly improved from when these two teams got together back earlier this season.
As for Clemson? The end of this season can’t come soon enough. The Tigers are talented yes, but also young, beat up and clearly exhausted. They need to get through Saturday, then get a few weeks off before bowl season.
2012 is where you’ve really got to watch out for the Tigers.
The Pick: Virginia Tech 34, Clemson 21
Kevin McGuire’s Take: This is a tale of two teams heading in opposite directions. Clemson started the season on a high note by picking up wins against defending BCS champions Auburn, and ACC favorites Florida State and Virginia Tech.
But the Tigers seemed to hit a wall late in the season and have lost three of their last four games in rather dismal fashion. Meanwhile, the Hokies quietly put together a 11-1 season. Frank Beamer’s squad is also playing at a high level right now, as shown in last week's big win against Virginia. Heading in to this weekend's ACC championship game I love the dynamic and young quarterback duel we are in line for with Tajh Boyd and Logan Thomas. Will Boyd show some of that poise that he had earlier in the season or will he struggle to find a rhythm this weekend? Will Logan Thomas continue to grow for the Hokies?
I think, when all is said and done, the Hokies will once again be in a big bowl game.
The Pick: Virginia Tech 31, Clemson 30
For all their insight, analysis and opinion on the biggest stories in college football, follow the Crystal Ball Run guys on Twitter @CrystalBallRun.
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