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Virginia Tech Accepts Gator Bowl Invitation
No. 12 Hokies Will Face Louisville

By Eric Prisbell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 5, 2005

One day after losing the inaugural ACC title game at Alltel Stadium, Virginia Tech accepted an invitation to return to the same Jacksonville, Fla., stadium on Jan. 2 to play Louisville in the Gator Bowl.

The announcement was little consolation for the Hokies, whose 27-22 loss to Florida State on Saturday denied them the conference's automatic Bowl Championship Series berth and a lucrative matchup with Penn State in the Orange Bowl. The defeat also dropped Virginia Tech (10-2) from fifth to 12th in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches' polls.

But the Gator Bowl still chose the Hokies over ninth-ranked Miami, which beat Virginia Tech, 27-7, on Nov. 5. Virginia Tech's history of having a large fan base travel to its bowl games was considered a major factor in the Gator Bowl's decision.

"I think it makes a great statement about our fans and how they support us for the Gator Bowl to want us back after just being there for the ACC championship game," Virginia Tech Coach Frank Beamer said.

The Hokies will meet a Louisville team that was the preseason favorite to emerge from the Big East with an automatic BCS berth. But the 15th-ranked Cardinals (9-2) lost two conference games and now will face the Hokies without starting quarterback Brian Brohm, who suffered a season-ending knee injury Nov. 26 against Syracuse.

Also yesterday, Virginia (6-5) accepted a bid to play Minnesota (7-4), which finished in seventh place in the Big Ten, in Nashville's Music City Bowl on Dec. 30. Previously, Navy (7-4) had agreed to play in the Poinsettia Bowl against Colorado State (6-5) in San Diego on Dec. 22. Maryland (5-6) was not bowl eligible.

There was no controversy or suspense surrounding yesterday's formal unveiling of the national title game matchup between Southern California and Texas. The nation's only undefeated teams will meet in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 4 as USC will attempt to win an unprecedented third straight national championship. It is the game most of the college football world has been craving since the summer.

USC (12-0) has won 34 straight games; Texas (12-0) has won 19 straight. The likely top three finishers in the Heisman Trophy race -- USC running back Reggie Bush, USC quarterback Matt Leinart and Texas quarterback Vince Young -- will compete in the game.

Last year, an undefeated Auburn team was left out of the national title game, which paired USC and Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl.

Two years ago, USC, which was the top-ranked school in both human polls, was excluded from the national championship game but won a share of the national title.

"It's nice to see the one versus two all year finish the season one and two," Leinart said. "Two undefeated teams, no controversy this year, and it's going to be a great atmosphere."

The day's only mild controversy surrounded Oregon, whose only blemish this year was a 45-13 loss to USC on Sept. 24. The sixth-ranked Ducks (10-1) have a better record than both Ohio State and Notre Dame, the two schools that earned at-large BCS berths and will face each other in the Fiesta Bowl.

Florida State (8-4) earned a BCS berth despite a record inferior to the other seven BCS teams. Regardless, the Seminoles' matchup with Penn State (10-1) in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 3 offers a compelling storyline. College football's two winningest coaches, Penn State's 78-year-old Joe Paterno and Florida State's 76-year-old Bobby Bowden, will square off.

In the fourth BCS matchup, Georgia, which beat Louisiana State on Saturday to earn the automatic berth as the Southeastern Conference champion, will play Big East champion West Virginia in the Jan. 2 Sugar Bowl in Atlanta. But it's the pairing of the nation's two best teams that will be the marquee game.

"Anytime we have a matchup that is widely lauded as being a great matchup in the championship game," BCS Commissioner Kevin Weiberg said, "you can really see the best of a system like this."

Prince to Coach K-State

Kansas State has hired Virginia offensive coordinator Ron Prince to replace Bill Snyder as coach of the Wildcats, Kansas State Athletic Director Tim Weiser said. The formal announcement will be at a news conference this afternoon. Also, Cavs defensive coordinator Al Golden is mulling over an offer to become head coach at Temple.

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