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Nov. 15, 2004

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Virginia ends the regular season with two ACC road games beginning this Saturday with a game against Georgia Tech in what has become one of the most thrilling match-ups in ACC history. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. on ABC.

Eight games since 1988 have been decided by a touchdown or less, including six games that were won on the last possession.

The home team has ruled the series, winning every game since 1995. Overall, the home team has won 18 of 26 games (with one tie).

The Cavaliers need to win their remaining two games to remain “in the hunt” for the league title. Their championship hopes suffered a setback last Saturday following a 31-21 loss at home to Miami. The loss dropped Virginia to 7-2 overall this season and into a tie for third place in the conference standings with a 4-2 league record. UVa also fell to 18th in both polls this week.

This is the third time in Al Groh’s four years at Virginia that the Cavaliers come into the Georgia Tech game following a loss. Virginia no doubt hopes the trend of success vs. the Yellow Jackets continues. In 2001 and last year, Virginia ended multi-game losing streaks with a win over Georgia Tech.

The Cavaliers began their strong end of season run last year with a 29-17 win over the Yellow Jackets and continued with wins over Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh in the Continental Tire Bowl.

Groh has called November a month where “you can play your way in or play your way out.” Virginia is 7-7 in November (and one December regular season game) under Groh, but the Cavaliers are 0-4 on the road in these contests and all four losses have been by at least 10 points. It must be noted, however, that UVa’s last 13 November/December opponents dating back to 2001 have had records of .500 or better and nine have been ranked.

One of the keys to Virginia’s success this season has been a lack of turnovers and limiting big plays. The Cavaliers have committed just eight turnovers, fifth fewest in the country, that have resulted in just 10 points for the opposition. Big plays (or the lack thereof) have been crucial throughout the fall. In the Cavaliers’ two losses they have given up six runs of more than 20 yards and eight passes of 20+ yards. In their seven wins, the Wahoos have allowed only two runs of 20+ yards–none since the second week of the season–and 14 long pass plays.

The Yellow Jackets became bowl eligible with last week’s 30-10 win over Connecticut to move to 6-3 overall. They are tied for fifth in the ACC, one game behind Virginia, with a 4-3 conference record.

Georgia Tech’s defense is fifth in the ACC allowing less than 300 yards of offense per game. The Jackets feature a stingy run defense that holds the opposition to just about 100 yards on average. In contrast, the Cavaliers average nearly 450 yards of offense and an ACC-leading 251 yards on the ground.

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