The slim playoff hopes for Duke are officially extinct after Virginia Tech went on the road and toppled a top-25 team for the second time this season, upending the Blue Devils 17-16.
How the game was won: Takeaways and run defense for Virginia Tech. Duke entered the game with just six turnovers, tied for the fewest in the nation, but the Hokies forced quarterback Anthony Boone into numerous mistakes. His two interceptions turned into 10 points for Virginia Tech. Meanwhile, a Duke ground game that led the way in the first quarter (121 yards on 17 carries) disappeared the rest of the way, and with Boone struggling, the Blue Devils simply couldn’t get anything going. It wasn’t exactly a banner day for the Virginia Tech defense, but when it mattered most, the Hokies made all the plays. And when Duke had one final chance to take the lead with a 40-yard field goal with 2:33 left, the ball sailed wide left.
Game ball goes to: Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster. Duke’s offense hasn’t struggled often, but Foster has managed to give the Blue Devils fits again and again. Virginia Tech made some fantastic in-game adjustments to shut down the running game, added four sacks in the second half (Duke had allowed just four all season), and Foster once again will haunt Boone’s dreams. In four games against the Hokies, Boone completed just 40 percent of his throws, with no passing TDs and seven interceptions. Kyshoen Jarrett finished the game with 13 tackles, and Dadi Nicolas had two sacks.
What it means: The Hokies entered the game teetering on the brink of missing a bowl game for the first time in 22 years, but now they simply need a win next week against Wake Forest to get to six victories. Ironically, two of those victories for the struggling Hokies have come on the road against top-20 teams. Duke, on the other hand, saw its slim playoff hopes disappear and its Coastal Division title hopes take a hit.
Playoff implication: The ACC’s playoff hopes are now officially down to Florida State. Duke was an unlikely player anyway, despite its one-loss status. But those hopes are definitively gone now after Ross Martin missed two field goals and the Blue Devils’ offense stalled again and again deep in Virginia Tech territory.
Best play: Foster brought the pressure on Duke on the final three plays of the game, and Detrick Bonner's sack on third down helped push the Blue Devils into an impossible fourth-down scenario. Boone's last pass on fourth down was a throwaway, and the Hokies secured the win.
What's next: Virginia Tech heads to Wake Forest in hopes of securing bowl eligibility with a win against a Demon Deacons team that has yet to win an ACC game. Duke's Coastal hopes (and Orange Bowl hopes) remain alive despite the loss, but a win against North Carolina on a short week is now crucial.