For the first time this season, Virginia Tech owns the No. 2 spot in both major polls--and, more important, in the Bowl Championship Series rankings as well.
If the season ended today, Virginia Tech would meet top-ranked Florida State in the Sugar Bowl Jan. 4 in New Orleans to decide the national championship. But with three weeks remaining, even if Virginia Tech remains undefeated, it could be leapfrogged in the BCS standings by a team with one loss that faced a much stronger schedule.
"We just have got to have faith and confidence that the system is going to work," said Coach Frank Beamer, whose team moved up following Tennessee's loss to Arkansas and Virginia Tech's 43-10 victory over Miami on Saturday.
Florida State is No. 1 with a 2.64 ranking, followed by Virginia Tech (6.30), Nebraska (8.70) and Florida (9.29).
The Hokies' victory over Miami improved their schedule-strength ranking from 60th to 54th. The concern is that a win over Temple (2-7) on Saturday--regardless of the margin of victory--wouldn't boost the Hokies' strength of schedule. Its other remaining opponent--Boston College--is 7-2 and ranked 25th headed into this week's game against Notre Dame.
With Tennessee out of the championship picture, once-beaten Nebraska, in sixth place last week, was the big winner. The Cornhuskers are off this week before traveling to Colorado Nov. 26. They will end their season in the Big 12 title game, likely against a Texas team that handed them their only loss.
The assumption is that whoever wins the Florida State-Florida showdown Saturday will receive one of the Sugar Bowl bids. If Florida upsets Florida State and Nebraska wins the rest of its games, the Gators and Cornhuskers could pass the Hokies in the rankings.
With all the uncertainty, one thing is clear for the Hokies: If they win at least one of their two remaining games, the worst they could do, by virtue of winning the Big East Championship, is play in the Orange Bowl Jan. 1.
"We're not talking about number two today," Beamer said. "We're talking about winning the Big East championship and getting a BCS bowl game."