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Maryland, Virginia Tech rekindle rivalry at Pinstripe Bowl

Sportsnaut
Nov 27, 2021; Piscataway, New Jersey, USA; Maryland Terrapins tight end Corey Dyches (84) celebrates his touchdown with quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa (3) during the second half against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at SHI Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 27, 2021; Piscataway, New Jersey, USA; Maryland Terrapins tight end Corey Dyches (84) celebrates his touchdown with quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa (3) during the second half against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at SHI Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Two former Atlantic Coast Conference foes will face off for the first time since 2013 in the Pinstripe Bowl on Wednesday, as Maryland takes on Virginia Tech at Yankee Stadium in New York.

Maryland (6-6) left the ACC for the Big Ten after the 2013 season and hasn’t seen the Hokies (6-6) since. The Terps are 16-15 all-time against Virginia Tech.

This is the first time Maryland has gone to a bowl game since 2016. The Terps beat Rutgers 40-16 in their regular-season finale to reach .500 and become bowl-eligible. Maryland hasn’t won a bowl game since the 2010 Military Bowl.

As he has done all season, quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa led Maryland’s offense in that win over the Scarlet Knights, completing 21 of 30 passes for 312 yards and three touchdowns. Tagovailoa finished the season with 24 scores through the air and led the Big Ten in pass completions with 308. He also set three program passing records at Maryland.

“It is definitely going to be a challenge to defend the pass against them,” Virginia Tech’s Chamarri Conner said. “But, as a defensive back, that’s what we look forward to. It will be exciting to see if we can stop them.”

For third-year Maryland coach Mike Locksley, he’s putting extra value on the bonus practices the Terps are getting. He’ll aim to use those to prepare for next season.

“The teams that typically go to bowls have a better chance next year to go because of how they’re able to develop with these extra practices,” Locksley said. “We cannot put a price tag on how valuable these are for us.”

The bowl game marks a period of transition for Virginia Tech. Former coach Justin Fuente was fired in November after a 5-5 start in his sixth season. Two weeks later, the Hokies announced the hiring of Brent Pry, Penn State’s former defensive coordinator who was an assistant at Virginia Tech early in his career.

But leading the Hokies in this game will be interim coach J.C. Price, a Virginia Tech graduate who coached the Hokies’ defensive line this past season. He finished the regular season 1-1, getting Virginia Tech bowl-eligible for the 34th time by beating rival Virginia in the regular season finale.

Price will be retained as the coaching staff transitions to Pry’s new regime, and he has focused on development in his practices leading up to the game.

“We wanted to make sure these guys enjoy the bowl experience. It is (a) reward,” Price said. “So, we basically cut things down. We had limited individual time. But I also expressed to them that there’s a certain amount of work you need to put in to win the game. And we have done that.”

The Hokies will be a bit shorthanded in the bowl game. Quarterback Braxton Burmeister has entered the transfer portal after starting in all 12 games for Virginia Tech this season. Also opting out of playing in the bowl for Virginia Tech is defensive end Amare Barno and wide receiver Tre Turner.

Fellow pass-catcher Tayvion Robinson has also entered the transfer portal, leaving the Hokies a bit thin in offensive weapons against Maryland, which put up 437.4 yards of total offense per-game this season.

–Field Level Media