By Zach Berman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 16, 2008 11:30 PM
BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Walking from the visitor's locker room to the field at Boston College's Alumni Stadium before a loss two seasons ago, Virginia Tech guard Nick Marshman heard Eagles fans welcome the Hokies with harsh greetings.
"Their team doesn't talk," Marshman said. "Their fans do all the trash-talking."
Defensive end Orion Martin remembered the same scene, anointing Alumni Stadium as "the rowdiest crowd I've ever been to," a bold statement from a player who played at Nebraska earlier this season and Louisiana State last year.
Perhaps it is simply selective memory. In the Hokies' last 60 games, they are 48-12; two of those losses have come against the Eagles, who are 3-2 against Virginia Tech in the past five meetings. Since the Hokies joined the ACC in 2004, they lost just one conference game on the road: the 22-3 drubbing at Alumni Stadium on Oct. 12, 2006, that Marshman and Martin still recall.
Despite no geographical connection, the two teams have established themselves as ACC rivals in the years since migrating from the Big East. The Hokies have not lost to in-state foe Virginia since 2003 and topped fellow former Big East stalwart Miami in four of the past five meetings. Entering Saturday's return to the Alumni Stadium, the Hokies (5-1, 2-0) have found its most recent trouble unexpectedly from Boston College (4-1, 1-1), the only ACC Atlantic Division team they play every season.
"I think the competition has been there the last couple years," linebacker Brett Warren said. "They're always pretty consistent. I don't know; they've just found a way for us the last couple years."
When Boston College entered Lane Stadium last season ranked No. 2 in the nation, it scored two touchdowns in the final two minutes and 11 seconds to trump the Hokies, 14-10, on a rainy Thursday night. Then-Eagles quarterback Matt Ryan completed a game-winning touchdown pass with 11 seconds remaining, adding to his college legacy and continuing Virginia Tech's distaste for BC.
"I bet I've seen that play several times," Beamer said. "That's made a lot of the highlight reels."
The two teams met again in the ACC championship. Virginia Tech topped Boston College, 30-16, to advance to the Orange Bowl. But had the Hokies just held on that Thursday night, they might have been reached the national championship game.
Boston College Coach Jeff Jagodzinski said his team has put last year's meetings to rest, emphasizing these are two different roster and the game is in a different venue. But the pinnacle of his first season was likely the dramatic win on national television against the then-No. 8 Hokies, he views Virginia Tech as one of his program's rivals.
"With the last couple games we had and you look at games the last couple years, it's been a good rivalry," Boston College Coach Jeff Jagodzinski said. "There's going to be two really well-coached football teams, two good programs going at it Saturday."
Unlike most rivalries, the two programs rarely cross paths in recruiting. Beamer could not recall Boston College players he recruited besides offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo, who attended Fork Union Military Academy, and standout linebacker Brian Toal, whose father played for the Hokies in the 1970s.
Instead, the intensity of their games are the product of the tough matchups in recent seasons. Virginia Tech won seven straight from 1996-2002. In 2003, BC came to Blacksburg and topped the No. 12 Hokies.
But the drubbing in Alumni Stadium two years ago was what Beamer and some of the veteran players remembered this week. For a program that prides itself in winning on the road, that lone ACC road loss sticks out like the Boston accent in Marshman's ears.
When asked about the game, Beamer first remembered the Boston College crowd serenading the win with Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline." He said he always enjoyed the song until that October night when the Hokies lost in Chestnut Hill for the first time since 1993. They went on to win their next six games, but the one they lost stings two years later and helped fuel a rivalry.
"I think it was a learning experience," Beamer said. "You can't go up to Boston College and beat a really good football team, a well-coached football team like they are, unless you're all together. You got to be together, and it can't be any other way. It's got to be a great team effort to beat this crowd."