On Saturday Dec. 4, the Virginia Tech Hokies and the Florida State Seminoles will play for just the fourth time since ACC expansion in 2004 (FSU is 2-1 in those games). Although it doesn't quite feel the same to see Bobby Bowden opposite Frank Beamer, don't expect Hokie fans to be silent about their distaste for FSU.
Historically, the 'Noles have dominated the Hokies, holding a 22-11-1 advantage. Of these games, six have been played this decade, (I know, I shouldn't be counting this year's game as it's 2010) with the Hokies winning only the 2007 matchup in Blacksburg. Otherwise the Hokies lost the National Championship game to the 'Noles in 2000, lost the Toyota Gator Bowl to them in 2002, lost the inaugural ACC Championship Game in 2005, and lost the only matchup this decade in Tallahassee in 2008 after Tyrod Taylor went down on the game's first play and Tech was forced to use three quarterbacks.
Our record against the 'Noles is a reason for our inferiority complex when it comes to our hatred for them, but I'd say as a general rule, fans of any fan base tend to feel ill-will for ANY team they have been beaten by soundly over a long period of time, ESPECIALLY if that team is a college football power the likes of FSU.
Amplified are these feelings by the experiences Hokies fans have had with 'Noles fans over the years, as many a Hokie fan have told me there is no worse experience they have had with a fan base than that of the 'Noles. Of course, based on the interactions I have had with the Seminole Nation, they may take that as a compliment. Take it as you will. There are always bad apples in any fan base, but FSU fans take the cake in my book. Another reason for Hokie fans' disgust felt for the Seminoles is the mind-numbing, torturous, and inescapable spectacle that is the Tomahawk Chop. News to Seminoles fans: in a world that includes Rockytop (and though I will concede our "Key Play" on EVERY 3rd down is dumb), you have BY FAR the most annoying chant/fight song/ in stadium tradition college sports. Please vary it up for a change. I may even have to become a FSU fan myself just to invent something to replace some of the endless Tomahawk Chops, but based on what you've read so far I'm unlikely to do that.
Here are some examples of the hostility that the Hokie fans have for the 'Noles and their infamous chop.
This was at the 2007 matchup between the Hokies and the 'Noles, in which Hokies fans, tired of seeing/hearing "THE CHOP" took it upon themselves to make the visiting FSU fans leave early, by chopping the ENTIRE fourth quarter stadium wide when it became evident the Hokies would win. So consider that this treatment will repeat if we feel you have chopped too much Saturday night and we have a lead late.
Now, down to the game. The Hokies clenched a week before the Seminoles did, so they got a tremendous head start on filling the stadium. I ordered my tickets a mere hour after the Hokies locked up the Coastal Division and Tech had already gone through their allotment of tickets, meaning that a good portion if not all the "extra" tickets not sold through the two schools' athletic departments will probably either be in the hands of scalpers or Hokie fans. Also, playing the game in Charlotte for the first time (a game that makes perfect geographical sense as the league is centered in Tobacco Road and not a home game for the two traditionally powerful Florida ACC programs) equates to what will essentially be a home game for the Hokies (as Blacksburg is a little over 2 hours from the Queen City).
When it comes down to the X's and O's, both teams are incredibly similar. Here's a link to GobblerCountry.com, where wisec4g posted the two teams offensive and defensive rankings. As you can see neither team strays very far in the rankings from one another.
When it comes down to it, you have a coach that is in his first year as the head coach at FSU and a coach on the opposing sideline who has been at Virginia Tech now for 24 years. But the seniority doesn't necessarily make his team better. I think if anything the advantage the Hokies have is being the better coached team. But the 'Noles have an advantage as well. They have a lot of good athletes and recruits that have been highly touted and are usually ranked higher (despite the fact that recruiting rankings aren't always the best determinant of success) than their counterpart Hokies.
The Hokies have Tyrod Taylor and the 'Noles Christian Ponder, two incredibly experience quarterbacks whose influence and ability will weigh heavily on this game. I don't want it to sound like a cop-out, but in my determination, the game is as simple as this: the team whose quarterback shines or even plays better will win. That encompasses turnovers, the passing game, for Virginia Tech the rushing game, and how a defense reacts and/or is able to contain the opposing player. I also think that whichever team wins the battle in the trenches and can establish the run can infinitely improve their chances of winning.
I may be riding the fence here, but as a Hokie fan wary of our past history with the 'Noles, I'm not making any predictions. As the great Michael Scott said, I'm not superstitious, I'm just a little stitious.