In August, 247Sports listed Lane Stadium as the fifth-loudest stadium in all of college football. While it’s important to note that there is no official stadium noise ranking, the distinction is warranted nonetheless. After all, of the schools that have recorded noise levels, Virginia Tech has the fifth-highest decibel rating. Sandwiched between Autzen Stadium (Oregon) and Beaver Stadium (Penn State), Lane Stadium—which only holds about 66,233 people—can generate noise up to 126.2 decibels. Quite simply, the Hokies have what Boston College football head coach Steve Addazio calls “the 12th man crowd factor.”
In attempt to prepare for his team’s Week 10 road trip to Blacksburg, Va., the sixth-year Eagles coach is pulling out all the stops to simulate the hostile environment. Fortunately for BC, the newly built Fish Field House has a sound system, which according to Addazio is “probably second to none in America.”
“We were in there last night, and we had that thing cranked up,” he told reporters during his Monday weekly press conference. “It was giving me a headache it was so loud. …This thing is incredible—it’s deafening.”
The Eagles have one thing going for them: So far this season, VTech hasn’t been the same team at home as the one that posted a combined 10-2 record at Lane Stadium over the course of its previous two seasons. In fact, the Hokies are just 1-2 in Blacksburg this year. Neither of their two losses have been particularly close either. First, VTech conceded 28 second-half points to Notre Dame, falling to the then-No. 6 Irish, 45-23. Then, two and a half weeks later, Georgia Tech’s famous spread-option attack dissected Bud Foster’s defense, racking up 465 yards on the ground, paving the way for a dominant 49-28 victory.
Overall, the Hokies are giving up 37 points per game at home this season—an anomaly of sorts for a program that’s traditionally ranked somewhere inside the top third of the FBS in scoring defense. It doesn’t come as too much of a surprise, though, considering that of the 10 VTech linebackers and defensive backs to record 10 or more tackles last season, only one returned for the 2018 campaign. BC—a team that just overpowered Miami’s vaunted defense on Friday night and is averaging 38 points per contest this fall—has to be licking its chops.
“We’re not going to allow them to screw their cleats in the ground, not one time,” Addazio said. “We’re going to go as fast and as hard as we can.”
With the exception of the Purdue game and the first half of the North Carolina State matchup, the Eagles’ high-octane style of play has worked like a charm. But all of that success has to be thrown out the window when discussing their Week 10 matchup against the Hokies—historically, VTech has had BC’s number. The Hokies lead the all-time series between the schools, 18-8, and have won eight of the teams’ last 10 meetings, including three straight. Not only is VTech routinely winning, but it’s doing so in a dominant fashion.
Of those eight victories, seven have been decided by 13 or more points. Although Addazio upended the Hokies back-to-back years to kick off his BC tenure, the series has since been reclaimed by VTech and, if anything, is currently more lopsided than ever. Actually, the Hokies have dealt the Eagles their worst loss of the season each of the past two years.
Last season, VTech ventured to Chestnut Hill on the eve of Columbus Day weekend and controlled all three phases of the game. Josh Jackson torched the Eagles’ secondary—a unit that entered the matchup ranked 12th against in the pass—and Foster’s defense shut down BC on the other side of the ball. The Eagles only converted two of their 17 third/fourth-down conversions and had to resort to trickery to score their lone touchdown of the night. Following the game, it appeared as if Addazio’s days were numbered and that BC—then 2-4—might not win an ACC game all year.
The annual crossover contest was even uglier in 2016. After beating up on Massachusetts in Week Two, the Eagles were shelled by VTech at Lane Stadium, 49-0. When all was said and done, the Hokies recorded more touchdowns (seven) than BC had first downs (six). The Eagles committed 12 penalties and punted the ball a program-record-breaking 13 times. The seven-touchdown defeat marked the worst of the Addazio era and the worst in program history since BC fell to Ole Miss, 54-0, on Oct. 7, 1950.
“I don’t think you forget things like that,” Addazio said. “That wasn’t—I wouldn’t call that one of the high moments.”
It’s important to note that circumstances are quite different this time around. Without Jackson and a fortified defense, VTech—a team that lost to Old Dominion earlier this season—is nothing short of vulnerable. Not only that, but the Eagles are back in the AP Poll for the second time this season. The national recognition has to be taken with a grain of salt, though—when ranked, the Eagles are just 1-3 against the Hokies. Addazio is well aware of just how little the number next to BC’s name means at this point of the season.
He said that he didn’t even address the ranking with his team, just like he didn’t mention bowl eligibility after Friday’s victory over Miami or cracking the AP Poll for the first time in a decade back in September. Right now, all eyes are on VTech.
But students, alumni, and fans are already speculating what a win on Saturday would mean—a victory that could set the stage for one of the biggest games in recent program history.
Featured Image by Amelie Trieu / Heights Senior Staff