News With Commentary by TSL Staff

Monday, October 18, 2004
by Will Stewart,

Hokies Crack the Rankings After Long Absence

Virginia Tech football is back where it used to be, breaking into both the Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN polls. The Hokies were ranked #23 by the AP and #22 by the coaches. The rankings end a string of 11 straight polls in which VT was unranked.

The Hokies were a mainstay in the AP poll from the end of the 1998 season until last year's loss to Virginia. For 84 straight weeks, from the time they waxed Alabama 38-7 in the 1998 Music City Bowl until Virginia knocked them off 35-21 on November 29th of last year, the Hokies were ranked by the AP, rising as high as #2 in 1999.

The 84-week ranking streak was heavily promoted by the VT Sports Information Department, but what most Hokie fans don't know is that VT was ranked by the coaches for longer than that. The coaches voted VT #21 on September 13, 1998, and for 97 straight polls, VT appeared in the USA Today/ESPN coaches' poll. One week later, on September 20, 1998, the AP started ranking the Hokies as well, but in the final poll taken at the end of the regular season that year, Tech was unranked by the AP but hung in there at #24 in the coaches' poll.

This year's Hokies had been sniffing around the edges of the poll for several weeks and had risen to #27 last week in the AP poll. The door was opened for the Hokies when four teams ranked from #19 to #26 lost: #19 Minnesota was thrashed 51-17 by Michigan State; #24 Southern Miss lost to Alabama 27-3; #25 Ohio State was pounded by Iowa 33-7; and #26 Missouri fell to Texas 28-20.

Looking down the road, VT has next Saturday off and should therefore stay ranked. A number of teams ranked from #15 on (in the AP poll) play tough games: #15 WVU hosts Syracuse (3-3, and you can argue that it's not a tough game for WVU); #17 Texas A&M hosts Colorado (4-2); #19 Boise State hosts Fresno State (3-2); #21 Arizona State hosts UCLA (4-2); and #22 Oklahoma State travels to Missouri (4-2).

Four ACC teams are now in the AP Top 25: #4 Miami, #5 FSU, #14 Virginia, and #24 VT. On the outside looking in are #29 NC State and #38 Georgia Tech.

Any Hokie fan, coach, player or administrator will tell you, it's not about rankings, it's about wins. While that's true, being ranked in the Top 25 has its advantages. Your score scrolls across the bottom of the TV screen all day long, gets coverage on SportsCenter, and is included in every Top 25 capsule in every paper across America on Sunday morning. Rank has its privileges.

Speaking of rankings, by holding Florida A&M to 199 yards of offense, the Hokie defense moved up to #7 in the nation, surrendering 265.4 yards per game. The Hokies are #5 in the nation in scoring defense, giving up just 11.6 points per game.

ACC Race Still Wide Open for VT

With Virginia's 36-3 loss to Florida State Saturday night, the Hokies are now in a 4-team pack of 1-loss teams in the ACC, behind frontrunner Miami (2-0). Here are the conference standings through Saturday's games.

ACC Standings
School Conference Overall
Miami 2-0 5-0
Florida State 3-1 5-1
NC State 3-1 4-2
Virginia Tech 2-1 5-2
Virginia 2-1 5-1
Georgia Tech 3-2 4-2
North Carolina 2-2 3-4
Maryland 1-2 3-3
Clemson 1-3 2-4
Wake Forest 0-3 3-3
Duke 0-3 1-5

Of the four teams grouped with VT at the top of the ACC, the Hokies will play two of them: Virginia (Nov. 27th in Blacksburg) and Miami (Dec. 4th in Miami). Tech has already lost to NC State and won't play FSU.

Just behind the Hokies are three 2-loss teams, and VT has a chance to keep them all at bay, because they will play all of them. Tech takes on Georgia Tech in Atlanta on October 28th, UNC in Chapel Hill on November 6th, and Maryland in Blacksburg on Nov. 18th. Wins in all three of those games will all but sew up a 12th straight bowl bid for the Hokies, regardless of what Tech does against Virginia and Miami.

Of the trio of GT, UNC, and MD, though those three teams play VT in the coming weeks, none of them play each other. GT will play the Hokies, @NC State, and Virginia; UNC plays Miami, VT, @Wake Forest, and @Duke; Maryland plays @Clemson, FSU, @Virginia, @VT, and Wake Forest.

In other ACC news, ESPN GameDay will be in Raleigh for NC State vs. #3 Miami this coming Saturday. NC State has the #1 defense in the country, giving up 203.7 yards per game. The game will be at either 7:00 pm (ESPN2) or 7:45 pm (ESPN). The information on game time and channel had not been posted on or as of this writing.


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