VT Beat: Hokies, Jackets Class of the Coastal

If you follow ACC football at all, you’ve heard this: The winner of the VT-GT game has won the Coastal Division every season.

This season probably won’t be any different, which makes the Labor Day night clash this coming Monday huge in the ACC. In the Atlantic Division, there’s an intriguing battle shaping up between Clemson, Florida State, and NC State that should be full of high drama all season long, but the Coastal might be all but decided very soon.

Other than Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech, the rest of the Coastal Division has an uphill climb. UNC isn’t eligible for the crown, due to probation. Duke is not a threat. Miami will play a ton of freshmen and is projected to finish fifth in the division by the ACC media. You can’t rule the Virginia Cavaliers out entirely, but they have to play ACC road games at Georgia Tech, NC State, and Virginia Tech.

If you therefore subscribe to the theory that it comes down to VT and GT, then whoever loses Monday night will be behind the 8 ball in the Coastal and will have to gain two games over the course of the rest of the season.

Put another way, whoever loses Monday night will hope and pray that the winner loses two ACC games the rest of the year, and even then, the loser has to go 7-0 the remainder of the season. That’s a tall order.

If the winner of Monday night’s game somehow loses three ACC games afterwards, that makes things a bit more fluid for the team playing catchup.

Here are the two teams’ ACC schedules:

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The two schedules are comparable, down to the common Atlantic crossover game at Clemson. But Virginia Tech’s other crossover game is Florida State, while Georgia Tech gets a date at Maryland, instead.

If Virginia Tech wins Monday night, Georgia Tech’s best hope is that the Hokies will lose to both Clemson and Florida State, or stumble somewhere else and finish 6-2. Even then, the Jackets would have to go 7-0, including a win at Clemson, to overtake the Hokies.

If Georgia Tech wins Monday night, the Hokies might have to go 7-0, including wins against Clemson and Florida State, and hope that the Yellow Jackets lose at Clemson and get tripped up somewhere else along the way.

It’s hard to believe that a season opening game can carry that much weight, because there will still be seven conference games left to play, but when you look at history, the landscape of the Coastal Division, and each team’s 2012 schedule, Monday night’s game looms huge.

Hokies-Jackets ACCG History

While just two teams have represented the Coastal in the ACC Championship Game, four Atlantic teams have made it in the game’s first six seasons. Clemson, Boston College, and Florida State have all been twice; Wake Forest went once. Only Maryland and NC State have yet to make it.

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Will Stewart is the founder and General Manager of TechSideline.com, covering Virginia Tech athletics since 1996, when the Interwebs was still just a baby sucking on a paci. Will believes college football is the greatest sport known to Man, even better than women’s beach volleyball and lingerie football. Will occasionally tweets at @WillStewartTSL, but he mostly keeps his tweeter shut and his eyes and ears open.

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