CHARLOTTESVILLE -- At the University of Virginia they like to turn up their noses toward Blacksburg and say that all dirt roads lead to Tech. The Hokies simply have taken to clobbering the Cavaliers on the football field as a most effective means of retaliation.

When Virginia and Virginia Tech renew their 92-year-old rivalry at 1 p.m. today in sold-out Scott Stadium, the Hokies will be trying to continue the dominance they have established this decade. Tech has won six of seven meetings, including the past two years by a combined 70-20.

"We've beaten them pretty bad the last six quarters," Hokies senior linebacker Victor Jones said. "They probably think they have something to prove, and they'll come after this even harder -- not that anyone needs any more incentive in this game."

The Cavaliers nonetheless have an overload of motivation. After last season's 42-10 drubbing at Lane Stadium, several Tech players said the Cavaliers gave up in the second half.

"You could see {they} had no leadership, no foundation," Hokies nose guard Mark Webb said after that game. "They don't come back against anybody. Get them down 17 points, and they stay down. It's lack of character, team unity. That's the type of players they recruit; they quit."

Webb, a senior at the time, later sent a letter of apology to Virginia Coach George Welsh at the insistence of Bill Dooley, then Tech coach. But those sentiments haven't been forgotten.

Virginia co-captain Sean Scott's first reaction to the quitting allegation was to agree. Scott later said he regretted saying that, but he never has retracted it. "It's a matter of pride," the senior defensive end said. "You don't like to lose to anyone, especially your instate rival. You especially don't like losing the way we did last year. When you lose like that, you want to go out and prove yourself the following year."

Welsh, who is 1-4 against Tech, offered simpler explanations for the recent string of losses.

"The first two years, we weren't very good," Welsh said. "They were much better than us. I can't explain what happened in '85. It's beyond me why we collapsed in the second half.

"Last year, we were just so bad."

Virginia's lone victory in the '80s came three years ago in its Peach Bowl season, a 26-23 win at Blacksburg. Tech leads overall, 35-28-5.

"We could go 0-10 and if we beat Virginia, then we're happy," Jones said. "The Virginia game is always big for us."

Many fans feel the same way. On Welsh's radio show last week, a caller told him it didn't matter if the team won another game all year as long as it beat Tech. Welsh has attempted to downplay the rivalry in favor of the bigger picture, but he doesn't completely discount it.

"This is an important football game no matter who we're playing," Welsh said. "When you're 0-2, the third one is really important.

"Yet, in a way it is more important. Somewhere along the line you have to start winning, especially with an instate rivalry."

Although Tech is also looking for its first win, first-year Hokies coach Frank Beamer is more specific about the impact of the match-up. He was a standout defensive back for Virginia Tech from 1966-68, playing for two Liberty Bowl teams under Jerry Claiborne. The teams met only once during that time, a 24-7 Virginia Tech victory in 1966, but that must have made an impression on Beamer.

"I think this is the big, big football game of the year," he said. "It was when I was playing and it will be when I'm coaching."