Is Virginia Tech back? That's the question in the ACC, as the Hokies reappeared in the rankings last week -- five straight wins have earned them the right to a nice number on the left of their name, the first time in over a year that they have been able to claim that right. Strangely enough, it was a loss to Pitt last season that ended their ranked run, something that may very well weigh on their minds heading into this one.
The Hokies are poised for even bigger things, if they play their cards right. With beatable opponents each of the next three weeks, not much is stopping them heading into a Nov. 9 meeting at Miami, a game that may very well decide the Coastal Division title.
For Pitt, this is a chance to redeem itself after being blown apart by Jameis Winston and Florida State to open the year. The Panthers have rebounded nicely with three wins, but none of them have really tested how good Pitt is -- or isn't. Virginia Tech will serve as a big measuring stick for how they've come since then.
Quarterback Tom Savage and linebacker Shane Gordon are both expected to play for the Panthers.
Rankings and records: Virginia Tech leads the series, 7-5, but has lost the last four meetings. The Hokies come into this one ranked No. 24 in the country.
Vegas: Virginia Tech is a 9-point favorites. The over/under is 42.5.
Weather: Mostly sunny/clear with a high of 70. No chance of rain.
Three names to know
Brandon Facyson (Virginia Tech cornerback) - The Hokies have a problem, and it's a good one. Facyson has been fantastic as a true freshman, recording a team-high four interceptions along with eight passes defended. Yet, Tech has the luxury of moving him to wide receiver, and plans to do so for at least a part of each game. This is because senior corner Antone Exum has been working his way back from injury and could return to the starting lineup any day now, which would push Facyson out of the rotation.
Bud Foster (Virginia Tech defensive coordinator) - Foster has been the defensive coordinator at Virginia Tech since 1995, masterminding some of the nation's top defenses pretty much every season. This year has been no different -- his Hokies held top-ranked Alabama to 206 yards in the season opener, and they have been fantastic since then, as well. Through five games, Virginia Tech is fifth in the country in total defense, 12th in scoring defense, and within the top 20 for rushing and passing defense. That's largely thanks to Foster.
Tom Savage (Pitt quarterback) - The above section is also a long-winded way of saying the impeccably named Tom Savage will have his hands full. Outside of a six-touchdown game against Duke, Savage has been largely pedestrian this year, and only completed 13 of 31 passes against Virginia last week.
Two things at stake
There could be as many as four quality teams in the ACC this season, between Miami, Florida State, Clemson and Virginia Tech. To keep pace with their conference rivals, the Hokies need a win to keep pressure on Coastal rival Miami, who is undefeated this year.
Pitt is 2-1 in conference, but could make things interesting in the ACC with a victory. It would be the Panthers' first over a ranked program since a win over Rutgers last fall.
How to witness
TV: 12 p.m. ET, ESPNU