My friend Kory and I both moved from Knoxville to Virginia in the last few years - he lives outside Charlottesville, and I'm outside Blacksburg. So every now and then during Tennessee off weeks or Thursday night games, we'll check out the in-state talent. Last night, Virginia Tech continued their usual Thursday night dominance in a 23-13 win over Maryland, highlighted by the breakout performance of redshirt freshman RB Darren Evans: 32 carries, 253 yards and a touchdown. When you're Virginia Tech and you're playing without the injured Tyrod Taylor, and you can get by with a 14 of 20 clean performance from Sean Glennon, combined with the usual ferocious defense (Maryland -12 rushing yards)...you're in good shape.
As Tennessee fans, it felt nice to go to a college football game at a place where they love the sport and have plenty of their own traditions and such...and not get angry. Watching a team with a tailback who falls forward, a quarterback who (at least on this night) is efficient, a relentless defense that tackles really well (which we also have this year)...and to sit in a stadium where the fans are still involved even though the rebuilding Hokies have lost thrice, to know that the game mattered and to sense the excitement...I miss this. And I hope it gets back to Knoxville real soon.
I'll say again that Virginia Tech does an excellent job with what they have. Although there's just another level of noise that Lane Stadium never gets to simply due to body count, the atmosphere is still hostile (especially by ACC standards) and the crowd and students are very much into the game. We were on the 110th row...and stood up most of the game. And we loved it. Hopefully their win last night pushes them further away from potential Music City Bowl opponent territory, and I can continue to keep my job as a Tennessee pastor with a Hokie congregation.
College football can still be fun.