A week did make a bit of difference.
One Saturday after enduring one of the more miserable Lane Stadium experiences, pretty much everything changed, from the weather to the offensive performance. The game began under a picture-perfect October sky with Metallica extending their personal greetings and ended under a full Blacksburg moon with the stadium audio bunch deciding the deafening Lane roar needed further juicing with More Sandman. In between there was a contest that was…., if not exactly football perfection, certainly exciting. Hopefully, the young lady one row down from me who spent virtually the entire last two minutes with an index finger jammed into each ear will be back.
It was a game where Tech had seemingly kept the Canes at arm’s length throughout, before managing to fall behind late. Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory was averted with the outstanding last-minute drive that culminated in Logan’s Run, then the scintillating last few seconds that ended, finally, with Tweedy planting Miller into the Lane turf. Tech could finally stop the Canes after all.
It was the sort of Tech-Canes game that is often seen, now in its second conference. Frank often refers to Tech’s initial win in this series, back in 1995 with a pass break-up at the goal line, as the most important in his Tech career. Tech had started that season 0-2; 10 wins, including a Sugar Bowl one and a Big East championship later, Tech was off and running on the whole ‘football thing’ that continues until this day. There have been a lot of memorable games between Tech and the Canes during that span. And, Tech usually wins them. The Canes have now gone through 4 coaches and 2 major scandals since Tech’s first win. Coaches and scandals come and go in South Florida- Tech keeps winning.
Since Tech’s first win over the Canes in 95, Tech has gone 12-5 over the Back Boys. Beating them 2 out of every 3 ain’t bad. During the same period, Tech has put up 14-3 numbers over the Hoos. Frank does have a pretty good handle on whom he needs to beat to keep the home folks happy. A combined 26-8 over your two biggest rivals does wonders for job security. The wins over the Canes do tend to be a bit closer.
While beating the Hoos year after year does tend to provide in-state domination and is great fun, generally, the games with the Canes have mattered just a bit more in the grand scheme of things. While about the only sniff of the ACC’s upper reaches the Hoos get comes from talking to Tech players after yet another pounding, the Canes are generally somewhere within hailing distance of the top of the standings. Not every year is like this one, where both the Canes and Noles sit at 2-3, 0-2 in the ACC and each essentially out of the race.
The Canes usually are able to buy enough players to at least stay in the Coastal’s first division. As they prepare to get Shapiro’ed for yet another pile of NCAA violations, it remains to be seen how long that continues. They do seem to find themselves Back on NCAA probation a bit more than they do Back at the top of the standings. It does tend to be great fun to observe all of the declarations of Canes’ Backness we are treated to every August, then see them immediately revert to Backlessness just as soon as the play Tech, if not before. It is even greater fun to realize that most of the cries of ‘The Canes are Back,’ then the ones of ‘No, they ain’t’ come from all of their Tech losses. The NCAA might put an end to talk of Canes’ Backness for quite a while, but Frank and his gang of coaches and ever-rotating cast of players have been doing it for years.
With the Canes smacked Back down the ACC standings for yet another year, looking at both the ACC and what remains for Tech is not overly encouraging. Tech’s offense might have done a 180 from the Clemson debacle, but so did the defense. Watching Canes’ runners thoroughly gash Bud’s defense time and time did cause one to occasionally ponder during times-out what awaits the Hokies in Atlanta in about a month. Trouble is coming. The thinnest defensive position grouping, the one where Bud absolutely, positively could not afford any injuries, the d-line, now has plenty of them. Yikes!
The ease in which the Canes piled up the yards on Bud’s bunch will even be a cause for worry this coming weekend as Tech heads to Winston to face Jim Grobe and the Deacs, themselves fresh off of ending any talk of Backness from the ACC’s other Florida entry, the Noles. Well, it would be a cause for worry were I to worry about it. Since the coaches are all paid handsome salaries to worry about that sort of thing and I am not, I will leave it to them. I will show up for the Tailgate and game, what I usually do.
It will be secure in the highly-amusing and satisfying knowledge of Tech having beaten the Canes. Again.