As fourth-ranked Virginia Tech's astonishing 62-0 blanking of then-No. 16 Syracuse on Saturday begins to sink in in Blacksburg, Va., players, coaches and fans alike are hoping it impresses the rest of the nation.

This fact certainly should: In the 63-year history of the Associated Press college football poll, the previous biggest shutout of a ranked team was No. 1 Army's 61-0 victory over No. 6 Penn State in 1945.

Before and after the blowout of the Orangemen, one question remains: If the Hokies make it through the season undefeated, will that be enough to get them to the Sugar Bowl, site of this year's national championship game?

Midway through the season, speculation persists that No. 4 Virginia Tech will need more than a flawless record to get an invitation to New Orleans. Because of a relatively weak schedule, one that rated a dismal 74th out of 114 Division I-A football programs, it is likely that two of the three teams ranked above the Hokies in the polls must lose for them to advance. After all, the three are perennial powers Florida State, Penn State and Nebraska.

But one factor working against the Hokies is that their opening game was against Division I-AA James Madison. Though it is not unusual for a top program to schedule one opponent it deems as a weaker team, Virginia Tech (6-0, 2-0 Big East) followed that game with one against Alabama-Birmingham. Its other two nonconference wins came over Clemson (3-3) and Virginia (4-2).

The other knock is on the quality of the Big East Conference. Virginia Tech's remaining games are against Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Boston College and Temple, which have a combined record of 11-13. The lone "quality" opponent on Virginia Tech's schedule is No. 23 Miami, which it will host Nov. 13.

The Hokies are only 19 points behind Nebraska (6-0) in the AP poll. Florida State (7-0) and Penn State (7-0) remained 1-2 for the fifth week in a row. Tennessee (4-1), which was idle, moved up one spot to No. 5. Michigan State (fifth last week) fell to No. 11 after a 52-28 loss to Purdue. The Hokies received two first-place votes.

Roses for Cardinal?

Stanford overcame four turnovers to grab hold of first place in the Pacific-10 and the inside track to its first Rose Bowl berth in nearly three decades.

A 21-17 victory over Oregon State (3-3, 0-3) gave the Cardinal (4-2, 4-0) its fourth consecutive conference victory for the first time since 1970. Stanford's Todd Husak completed 20 of 34 passes for 312 yards and a touchdown. The Cardinal plays its next three games at Southern California, Washington and Arizona State.

Washington (3-3, 2-1) lost six fumbles and had its three-game winning streak ended by Arizona State in a 28-7 loss. The Sun Devils (3-3, 2-1) had lost in their previous four trips to Seattle.

Hungry, Hungry Gators

Despite defeating Auburn, 32-14, Saturday, Florida Coach Steve Spurrier wanted a lot more offense by his then-No. 7 Gators.

"Thirty-two points isn't bad. I would have preferred 50," Spurrier said. "We thought we could have scored 50 on [Auburn Coach] Tommy Tuberville, but we couldn't do it."

The win was Spurrier's 99th in 10 seasons, passing Barry Switzer for the most victories by a coach in the first 10 years at a Division I school. Florida improved to 6-1, 4-1 in the Southeastern Conference. Auburn, which has lost four straight, fell to 3-4, 1-3.

Thompson Uncertain

Penn State starting quarterback Kevin Thompson could miss Saturday's game at No. 16 Purdue after slightly separating his right shoulder against Ohio State.

In the Nittany Lions' 23-10 victory over the Buckeyes, Thompson was hit by a defender in the second quarter and did not return.

Penn State will find out whether Thompson will be available against Purdue after he undergoes a more thorough examination on his throwing shoulder within the next two days, the school said.

Special correspondent Bryan Tucker contributed to this report.