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Virginia Tech is out to wreck it for Eagles

They have played seven games this season, and won seven games. They began the season unranked and have climbed to No. 2 in the nation.

They have a quarterback, Matt Ryan, who was the preseason pick as the Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year, and who was included in "others receiving consideration" for the Heisman Trophy. Now he is a constant in the Heisman discussion.

Despite all of that, there is more skepticism surrounding the Boston College Eagles than there is respect. Lack of top-flight competition is cited when listing BC's victories, including double-digit wins over Army, Bowling Green, and Massachusetts. Even what prior to the season would have been regarded as quality wins - against Georgia Tech and Notre Dame - have been diminished by the fact the Yellow Jackets are a step below where they were last year, when they played for the ACC title, and the ineptitude of the Fighting Irish.

Which is why BC's showdown with No. 8 Virginia Tech tonight in Blacksburg is as important in terms of perception as it is in the mathematics of a conference race.

Win in the supercharged atmosphere of Lane Stadium, one of the loudest college football venues in the country, against a Tech team that has gotten progressively better since it was pounded by Louisiana State in the second game of the season, and the doubters will disappear. Instantly.

Win against a Tech team that seems to thrive in Thursday night ESPN showcase games (13-2, with both losses coming against BC, in 1995 and last season) and combine that with the possibility of an Ohio State loss at Penn State Saturday, and the answer to Who's No. 1 will be Boston College.

As for Ryan, BC's smooth, efficient quarterback, the same applies. Come up with a Heisman-type game against the Hokies, and the nickname "Matty Heisman" will have real significance. Again, the doubters will be muted.

All of this means tonight's game is one of the most important regular-season encounters in BC football history.

"I think it's going to be a hell of an atmosphere, and it should be a lot of fun for both teams," said Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer, who said earlier this week that BC might be the best team ever to come to Lane Stadium.

"We have an excellent football team coming in here on Thursday. We're looking at their quarterback as the guy who will most likely win the Heisman Trophy. They are very tough defensively and strong up front. They're just a real good and tough football team. We understand after playing up there that it will take a great effort on our part to get a win."

Beamer is less certain about his own quarterback. Freshman Tyrod Taylor is questionable with an ankle injury, meaning junior Sean Glennon, the starter at the beginning of the season before being replaced by Taylor in the second game, may play.

"I've thought about this week's game as two good football teams that are ranked," said Beamer. "Someone told me that it's only the second time that two teams in the top 10 had ever played on Thursday night. I'm not sure if that's true, but it's two ranked teams that are playing an important conference game. That's how I look at it. I haven't gone much beyond that. I know every game in your conference is very important."

BC coach Jeff Jagodzinski is also looking forward to the matchup.

"Great atmosphere," he said. "Our guys like games like this. It should be fun."

Mark Blaudschun can be reached at blaudschun@globe.com.

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