Virginia Tech Coach Frank Beamer has said all season that he was not going to worry about the Bowl Championship Series rankings. With so many formulas, polls and computer rankings being used to determine a team's standings, Beamer has consistently said, "I have no doubt that, when it's all said and done, the two best teams will play for the national championship."

It now appears almost certain his No. 2 Hokies will be one of them.

In the latest Bowl Championship Series rankings, released yesterday, Virginia Tech is 1.54 points ahead of No. 3 Nebraska in the race for a berth against top-ranked Florida State in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 4.

Virginia Tech's chance to play for the national championship won't be official until the final standings are released Sunday, but computer experts are saying it's highly unlikely the Hokies can be jumped by the 10-1 Cornhuskers.

"This is like a dream come true," Virginia Tech quarterback Michael Vick said. "To be a freshman and have the chance to lead this team to a national championship. . . . It's better than a dream."

Florida State remains atop the BCS rankings--and both national polls--with a total of 2.24 points. Virginia Tech is second with 6.16 points and Nebraska is third with 7.70 points. The Hokies held a lead of only .63 over the Cornhuskers a week ago, but benefited from their 38-14 win over then-No. 22 Boston College Friday and Nebraska's escape of Colorado, 33-30, in overtime.

While both the Seminoles and Hokies have closed out their regular season schedule, the Cornhuskers have a game remaining Saturday at No. 12 Texas in the Big 12 championship game. Had Nebraska posted a lopsided victory over Colorado and then routed Texas it would have been possible that Nebraska might have passed Virginia Tech.

Instead, the Cornhuskers blew a 27-6 lead over the Buffaloes, who tied the score at 27 with less than four minutes left in regulation to send the game into overtime.

"If there were two blowouts, [Nebraska] would have had a chance," said David Rothman, creator of one of the eight computer rankings used by the BCS. "But now that this has already happened with Colorado, I don't see how any attempts will work. Even if it's a terrible rout over Texas, it wouldn't matter. I plugged in a 99-0 score just for kicks and there's no way. There's such a huge gap now that there's no way it could be overcome that I know of. There seems to be no issue left."

For Nebraska to have overtaken Virginia Tech in the BCS standings, the Cornhuskers would have had to pass the Hokies in six of eight computer rankings (the lowest ranking for each team is thrown out).

Kenneth Massey, who created one of the polls and is also a graduate student at Virginia Tech working toward a doctorate in mathematics, also said the Hokies' berth in the Sugar Bowl is secure no matter what happens in the Texas-Nebraska game.

"Even if they win by an obscene amount of points," he said. "There's a finite amount of points that Nebraska can get from one game. It's possible, but I don't think it's probable."