Virginia Tech linebacker Cody Grimm has been around Blacksburg long enough to know that college football fans from Southwest Virginia are either Tennessee fans or Tech fans. Only 233 miles separate Blacksburg from Knoxville, Tenn., but the two programs haven’t met since 1994.
"You always hear the rumors about us and Tennessee playing, all the hype that would be around it if that game were to ever actually happen,” Grimm said. “Now we actually get a chance to play them.”
And the chance at yet another important opportunity.
This young team will return a bulk of its talent next year, and a bowl win can go a long way in acting as a spring board into next season. Last year’s win over Cincinnati in the Orange Bowl was a driving force behind the Hokies’ focused and productive offseason workouts, and this year’s bowl game could do the same. Virginia Tech's success in the ACC title game and Orange Bowl last year was a big reason the Hokies came into this season ranked No. 7 in the preseason Associated Press Top 25, and why there was so much substance to the national title talk.
“This is going to be a big game for us,” Grimm said. “Some bowl games are bigger than others, but as for getting to 10 wins, that will give us momentum heading into next year. It will kind of sum up our season if we can get a win, we can come out and finish with 10 wins against and finish as a top-10 team.”
It’s a very good possibility, as Virginia Tech entered this week at No. 11 in the BCS standings. Tennessee leads the series 5-2, but the Hokies should be favored in this game. Virginia Tech is 1-2 in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, and could obviously even that record while at the same time represent the conference against the SEC. Virginia Tech held its own against Alabama in the season opener in Atlanta, but is hoping for a win this time.
"This is a very good example to showcase our talent, and show what the ACC has talent-wise,” quarterback Tyrod Taylor said. “In the ACC, we know we have a lot of talent and we are just looking to go out there and prove it."