Posted by Chip Patterson
The ACC Championship Game will have a familiar look on the field, but very different feel than years past. The ACC Championship was first held in 2005, and the first five seasons were all played in the state of Florida (first Jacksonville, then Tampa the last two years). But playing conditions will be a bit different as the title game moves north in 2010 to Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, NC. Saturday night's weather forecast calls for 40 degrees with a 40 percent chance of rain. Not exactly the breezy 60 degrees and clear that Tampa will enjoy at the same time.
But the teams on the field should look right at home, no matter where the location. Saturday's showdown is a rematch of the first ACC Championship Game, held in 2005. Until Virginia Tech's arrival, the ACC practically belonged to the Seminoles. Florida State won 12 conference championships in 14 years, finishing with a victory in the inaugural title game. Saturday will mark their first return since that game. The Hokies, on the other hand, are looking to add some more ACC hardware after locking up their fourth division title in six seasons of conference play.
On Saturday, the ACC's past will try and reclaim the throne from the ACC present. Here are three keys to the 2010 ACC Championship Game.
1) Florida State's pass rush must get to Tyrod Taylor
Without a doubt, the success of Virginia Tech's offense starts and finishes with Tyrod Taylor. The 2010 ACC Player of the Year has matured from a dangerous young talent to one of the most complete offensive threats in the nation. The job of containing him will start with the Florida State front line. The Seminole pass rush led the conference with 43 sacks in 2010, and they will be needed to penetrate into the Virginia Tech backfield to disrupt Taylor and force him into making some mistakes. Unfortunately, Florida State may find it difficult to do that to a player who only threw four interceptions in 256 pass attempts.
2) Battle of the X's and O's: Jimbo Fisher vs. Bud Foster
One thing that Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer went out of his way to mention on Friday was the Florida State's play calling. "Running the right play at the right time, they are good at that," Beamer mentioned when asked about Florida State's offense. That offensive play calling is still done by head coach Jimbo Fisher. On Saturday night, Fisher will go toe to toe with Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster - widely regarded as one of the best defensive coordinators in the game. The chess match between Fisher and Foster could, and might, be one of the deciding factors in deciding the new conference champion.
3) What, if any, effect weather plays on the game
"The only thing that is iffy is the weather," Frank Beamer said. "You know, cold doesn't affect a game anymore. Rain affects a game a little bit, wind I think affects a game a little bit, but hopefully the weather is going to be okay, and if not, both teams got to play in it." As was mentioned, the weather will be a big change from Tampa or Jacksonville. But how will each team react? Both offenses are so balanced and both defenses are incredibly disciplined, so it is hard to give an edge one way or another. But adding the weather factor on top of the national spotlight and a berth to the Orange Bowl on the line, and you never can predict how a college football team will react. Of course, there could no rain and wind could be a non-factor, in which case the point is moot.
Prediction: I'm sticking to my prediction from the expert picks, both offenses are far too balanced to kept from the end zone. No matter what the conditions, there are too many different weapons on the field to not set up some touchdowns. Virginia Tech 31, Florida State 24.