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It wasn’t supposed to happen like this.  The early November bye was going to be a week off for Virginia Tech to gather itself for another Coastal Division push–with a Thursday night showdown against rival Georgia Tech looming.  Instead, Blacksburg prepares for the final scenes of coach Frank Beamer’s 29-year tenure.  Like the last few seasons, ACC title hopes are out of the question and scraping to bowl eligibility is the matter at hand.  When the Hokie alum took over his alma mater in 1986, appearing in a bowl was a pipe dream for this school that served as a schedule-stuffer for the major powers.  This was a struggling independent school whose dreams of ACC membership was scoffed at by their snooty neighbors in Charlottesville.  Beamer turned things around slowly but surely:  it took seven years to play in a bowl, and nine for him to have an overall winning record at the school.  What followed was a 17-year run where the Hokies won 10 or more games 13 times.  After winning three Big East titles and playing for a National Championship, Virginia Tech was begrudgingly accepted into the ACC.  Only Beamer’s bunch didn’t enter quietly–winning the league in their first year of residence before playing in five of the first seven ACC Championship Games.  Instead of thanking Virginia for finally allowing them to become a conference member, the Hokies won their first 11 games against the Cavaliers as league foes.  That’s why this month is so difficult for Hokies Nation…instead of celebrating what was one great run they’re confronted with what’s been a rough couple of seasons.  And now the only coach to lead them to greatness is calling it a career.  Friends and foes alike raise a smoked turkey leg in your honor, Frank.

 

Alma Mater Update– the strange dance continues with Scott Shafer as year three is more like year two than year one of his regime.  Today the Orange visit Louisville–a team that underperformed early but is now overachieving in ACC play.  SU’s final four opponents boast a combined record of 20-13…with unbeaten Clemson coming to Central NY next weekend.  Handling a coaching regime at a private school in the northeast is not the same as a state school in the south that spills over with NFL prospects…as we learned from former Athletic Director Daryl Gross’s mistakes.  If they keep Shafer, they better be right… like they were when they stuck with Dick MacPherson after a 30-36-1 start.  If they bail, they better have the right guy in place…unlike 2005 when the Greg Robinson error era began.

 

Maryland meets Wisconsin–this is homecoming?  Isn’t Indiana on the schedule later this month?  What about a non-conference cupcake, like Bowling Green?  Um, never mind.  The Badgers may be unranked but both of their losses have come to teams currently in the top ten– Alabama and Iowa.  The Terps offense that has trouble getting out of its own way (nine turnovers in two games) will face a Badger D that ranks 1st in scoring, 2nd in yards and 3rd against the run.  Will this be the week somebody has an answer for Perry Hills (3 straight games of 100+ yards rushing)?  Last year Wisconsin rushed for 311 yards against a 3-4 defense in Madison…the newfangled 4-3 has to make plays against a revitalized running game with the return of Corey Clement (even though he sounds like he belongs in a boy band, the sophomore is averaging almost 7 yards a carry this season) from injury.  Terps tumble, 21-16.

 

Virginia visits Miami– Mike London may have trouble beating North Carolina (0-6) and Virginia Tech (0-5), but against Miami it’s a different thing.  UVa is 4-1 against the Hurricanes in his tenure (roughly 31% of his ACC wins).  Last weekend’s win against Georgia Tech gives the team hope of a November surge…but the reality is they’re only three plays away from being 0-8.  The Canes are coming off a win that shouldn’t be-as the officials erred in their game-winning kickoff return against Duke (for once, the Blue Devils didn’t get the call)…and are enjoying the fresh vibe of having an interim coach. They also lead the ACC in passing yards…and Virginia has had trouble stopping everybody in the air this fall (next to last in yards allowed, last in passing efficiency).  Welcome to the precipice of postseason elimination.  Cavaliers come up short, 31-27.

 

Navy visits #15 Memphis– playing for first place in the American Athletic Conference (of America) West Division, the Midshipmen face their toughest conference test thus far.  The unbeaten Tigers have the biggest AAC win of the season– a 37-24 win over Mississippi.  Granted, the game was in Memphis but there are those who claim that Memphis is the cultural capital of Mississippi (as well as Arkansas).  They also score 48 points per game and boast a mistake-free quarterback in Paxton Finch (18 TD to 1 INT).  Navy’s option offense will face a defense ranked third against the run in the league…can Keenan Reynolds air it out?  Midshipmen come up short, 37-26.

 

Howard slips to Stonybrook, Towson tops Maine, William & Mary edges Elon.

Last Week: 6-2.

Overall: 57-16.

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