When Frank Beamer took on the job of head coach at Virginia Tech, he knew he needed to find a way to put his program out there to gain some national attention. That opportunity was given by ESPN as the network began expanding its college football coverage to Thursday nights. Virginia Tech was an early adopter of the Thursday night timeslots, and both benefitted as a result. This Thursday, Beamer will get a chance to coach one final time on a Thursday night when Virginia Tech visits Georgia Tech. The importance of the Thursday night games has not been lost by Beamer.
“It kind of gave us our identity here,” Beamer said. “It was the total program. It was a football team that played hard and hopefully played well most of the time, but it was a fan base that cared, that was loud, that was there pre-game, there after the game. I think it was kind of the whole deal.”
As noted by Andy Bitter of The Roanoke Times, this will be Virginia Tech’s 30th Thursday night game. The Hokies are 20-9 on Thursday nights, including a 5-0 mark against the Yellow Jackets. The only team to appear in more Thursday night games? Georgia Tech. The nighttime atmosphere in Blacksburg has grown over the years, and it remains one of the best atmospheres for a weeknight game. The success of Thursday night college football has led to other conferences embracing weekday games in more recent years, like the MAC and Sun Belt Conference playing games on Tuesdays or Wednesdays. Those conferences may get the national spotlight, but it takes more to create a unique environment for a primetime college football game in the middle of the week, and Virginia Tech had it.
“Great band, a couple of them matter of fact. And just the atmosphere and our fans and our students — they’re the ones that really created that,” Beamer said. “I think that was kind of the big picture.”
Virginia Tech will enter Thursday night’s game needing a win to inch closer to bowl eligibility. The Hokies need tow wins in their final three games to give Beamer one last bowl appearance. Georgia Tech is also fighting for their postseason lives, as one more loss will officially eliminate the defending ACC Coastal and Orange Bowl champions from postseason contention.
Georgia sophomore linebacker Monty Rice is not expected to play this weekend as Georgia plays rival Georgia Tech this weekend, according to Georgia head coach Kirby Smart. Rice injured his foot during the pre-game warmups over the weekend before Georgia played UMass, but Smart does not think the injury will keep Rice out for very long.
That, of course, is good news considering what is up next for Georgia after this weekend’s game against Georgia Tech. Georgia is set to meet Alabama in the SEC Championship Game next week in Atlanta, and having Rice back in time for that game would be beneficial to the Georgia defense if he is available to return. A win against Alabama would likely send Georgia back to the College Football Playoff. Rice has not officially been ruled out for this weekend, although Smart seems pessimistic about his chances of playing against the Yellow Jackets.
However, a report from UGASports.com says Rice was seen leaving the football building on crutches and wearing a boot on Monday. That may not sound too promising for Rice’s availability this week or next, but the extent of the injury has not been clarified. But until any update is provided on Rice’s availability beyond this week, it will be nothing more than speculation and a guessing game.
Rice is Georgia’s second-leading tackler this season with 59 tackles, including 25 solo tackles. Rice has also recorded a sack and forced a fumble this season.
In a victory over Iowa State on Saturday night to put Texas in a good spot to clinch a berth in the Big 12 championship game, starting quarterback Sam Ehlinger was forced to leave the game with a shoulder injury. With one game left to play in the regular season against Kansas, it is unknown if Ehlinger will be ready to play this weekend.
Texas head coach Tom Herman said Ehlinger has aggravated his AC joint in his right shoulder, his throwing shoulder that was hurt earlier this season. Herman told reporters Ehlinger would not throw on Monday but the head coach of the Longhorns noted he was hopeful to see Ehlinger be able to do so again on Tuesday as practices resume in preparation for Kansas this week.
The good news appears to be no serious damage was discovered in an MRI Ehlinger underwent. Texas may be fortunate to have a game against Kansas on the schedule this week, as the Longhorns should still be a solid favorite to come out of this game with a win. A win would guarantee a spot for Texas in the Big 12 championship game, which would result in a rematch with either Oklahoma or West Virginia (the winner of this week’s Oklahoma-West Virginia game heads to the Big 12 championship game; Texas is in regardless of who wins that game as long as the Longhorns beat Kansas).
If Ehlinger is unable to play, Texas will continue to roll with Shane Buechele at quarterback. Ehlinger’s status will be monitored throughout the week before any official decision is made.
On Sunday, Virginia Tech announced a tentative plan to play one final home game this season against Marshall in an attempt to keep Virginia Tech’s bowl streak alive. But if the game is not played, Marshall is still going to get paid.
According to a Richmond Times-Dispatch report, Virginia Tech has agreed to compensate Marshall whether they play a game or not. If the game is played, Virginia Tech will pay Marshall $300,000 for the late regular season matchup. If the game is not played, Virginia Tech will pay Marshall $100,000 for their troubles. That’s a win-win for Marshall.
As previously announced by Virginia Tech, the tentative game against Marshall will take place in the event Virginia Tech beats Virginia this week to give the Hokies a fifth win this season. The final game against Marshall would then be played on Dec. 1 to give the Hokies a chance to reach six wins and qualify for a bowl game for a 26th straight season. Because the game would not be needed in the event Virginia Tech loses to Virginia, the game against Marshall would be scrapped entirely.
In addition to the late plans to play a potential 12th game this season if needed, the Richmond Times-Dispatch also reports a future home-and-home series between the two schools has been agreed upon, although the details of a potential future home-and-home series have yet to be detailed.
Virginia Tech’s non-conference schedule is booked through 2030 though so it would be a while before that home-and-home deal sees the football field unless any adjustments to Virginia Tech’s schedule are made to accommodate an earlier meeting between the Hokies and Thundering Herd.
After a somewhat quiet week of college football for the top teams in the Super 16 poll, there was minimal change to the top 10 this week. The Super 16 Poll from the Football Writers Association of America and the National Football Foundation once again sees Alabama claiming the top spot with all 51 first-place votes from the collective voters this week.
Alabama is followed by the same teams in the same order they were last week with Clemson, Notre Dame, Michigan, Georgia, and Oklahoma not moving this week. At No. 7, Washington State moved up one spot. West Virginia fell from the seventh spot down to No. 11 after a road loss at Oklahoma State last weekend. The Mountaineers dropping allowed No. 8 LSU and No. 9 UCF to move up two spots. No. 10 Ohio State dropped one spot after having to survive an overtime shootout at Maryland over the weekend.
No. 16 Washington returned to the Super 16 this week to round out the poll. The Huskies trail Texas, Florida, and Penn State, who all moved up this week. No. 15 Utah State fell one spot after escaping an upset bid at Colorado State on a Hail Mary that didn’t count because the receiver stepped out of bounds on the final play of the game.
Here is this week’s full Super 16 Poll, with first-place votes noted.
- Alabama (51)
- Notre Dame
- Washington State
- Ohio State
- West Virginia
- Penn State
- Utah State
As a regular disclaimer, three contributors to College Football Talk are Super 16 voters; Zach Barnett, Bryan Fischer, and myself (Kevin McGuire).