By HANK KURZ Jr.
AP Sports Writer
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) - Virginia coach Al Groh was meeting with the media Tuesday, talking about the No. 16 Cavaliers' game against No. 8 Virginia Tech, when two students who looked like they'd been in a rousing Cheetos fight walked in with an envelope.
``Hi, fellas,'' Groh said cheerily, taking the envelope from the orange-painted students and reading an appeal that Cavaliers fans wear orange for the big game.
Groh and his captains also penned a letter to the school newspaper making a similar request. But amid their own efforts and much other hype for the game, the coach and the Cavaliers tried all week to insist they can't afford to consider its magnitude.
``Obviously it's the biggest game of the year,'' tight end Tom Santi said with a wry smile, ``because it's the only one we have this week. We're excited about it.''
The Hokies, meanwhile, take an entirely different approach, even celebrating the fact that an improved Virginia program could give them a stiff test after Virginia Tech has dominated the series in recent years.
``That's the whole point of having an in-state rivalry,'' Hokies linebacker Vince Hall said. ``The whole rivalry thing doesn't really go good if only one team wins the whole time and the other team's not winning.''
The Hokies have won three in a row in the series and seven of the last eight. But the rivals are playing for much more than bragging rights. The winner moves on to face Boston College for the Atlantic Coast Conference championship and a BCS bowl berth.
The Cavaliers still insist that the game has no special meaning.
``We're not even thinking about what's at stake,'' right guard Ian-Yates Cunningham said. ``We're just thinking about winning a game. It's just one extra game. It was on our schedule at the beginning of the season.''
Groh noted that coaches and players aren't the ones who tailgate and cheer.
``We're the ones who play, and ... this is a different event for the participants than the other people. ... Everybody's got a role to play, and ours is to prepare to play and to play well, so if something helps us, then we embrace it,'' he said. ``If it doesn't, then we try to keep it at arm's length.''
Virginia Tech was an overwhelming favorite to win the ACC's Coastal Division and has three straight victories to put it in position to do so after a stunning loss to Boston College. In that game, the Eagles scored two touchdowns in the final 2:11 to win 14-10.
Now the Hokies can force a rematch with Boston College.
``We've been talking about it since (a 27-3 victory against) Georgia Tech,'' Hokies left tackle Duane Brown said. ``Since that game, we've gone out and practiced our tails off, went out and executed and now we're at this point. Our last game of the season, our in-state rival. It doesn't get any better than this, really.''
Source: ncaafootball; Photo Credit: Virginia Tech Athletics Communications