Unless either two-time defending national champion Southern California or No. 2 Texas loses between now and Dec. 4, Virginia Tech will have a difficult time playing in the Bowl Championship Series title game in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 4.

In the first BCS standings released yesterday, the Hokies were third behind the Trojans (.9923) and Longhorns (.9591), who started the season ranked Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, in both the Associated Press and coaches' poll.

The Hokies (.9067) not only were further behind Texas than some BCS projections predicted, but No. 4 Georgia (.8933) was much closer to Virginia Tech than some believed the Bulldogs would be.

Even if the Hokies remain unbeaten against a schedule that includes Thursday night's game against Maryland at Byrd Stadium, followed by difficult home games against Boston College and Miami and a Nov. 19 game at rival Virginia, they'll have a tough time surpassing the Longhorns.

Texas plays only one more game against a ranked opponent -- Texas Tech, ranked No. 10 by the Associated Press voters and No. 7 in the BCS standings, plays the Longhorns in Austin on Saturday. Texas then plays three of its last four games on the road -- at Oklahoma State and Baylor, at home against Kansas and at Texas A&M in the Nov. 25 finale. The Longhorns also seem sure to play in the Big XII championship game in Houston on Dec. 3.

Virginia Tech faces an uphill climb mostly because Texas has a sizable advantage in both the human polls that make up two-thirds of the BCS formula (the other one-third comes from a team's average in six computer rankings). In the Harris poll, which replaced the Associated Press poll in the BCS this year, the Longhorns are 129 points ahead of the Hokies; Texas is 64 points in front in the coaches' poll.

"Regardless of how it comes out, the only thing we have control of is how we prepare for the University of Maryland," Coach Frank Beamer said. "That's going to be our emphasis. I'm not going to spend a lot of time talking or thinking about the BCS right now. I'm going to try to figure out some way to beat a really good Maryland football team."

The Hokies (6-0) are one of seven undefeated teams in Division I-A, along with Southern California, Texas, Georgia, Alabama, Texas Tech and UCLA. There can be no more than four undefeated teams left at the end of the regular season -- Texas and Texas Tech play Saturday; the Trojans play UCLA in Los Angeles on Dec. 3; and Georgia and Alabama would play in the Dec. 3 Southeastern Conference championship game in Atlanta if both remain unbeaten.

This is the third time there have been seven undefeated teams when the first BCS standings were released. Last season, three teams were unbeaten when the final BCS standings were released. Southern California beat Oklahoma, 55-19, in the Orange Bowl to win its second consecutive national championship. Auburn, which finished 12-0 and won the SEC, was left out of the title game and beat the Hokies, 16-13, in the Sugar Bowl.

Hokies Note: Theodore Miller, a redshirt freshman cornerback from H.D. Woodson, has been dismissed from the team, Beamer said yesterday. Miller played in two games this season and had one tackle. He was suspended from the team last year after he and cornerback Brandon Flowers were arrested on misdemeanor firearms charges, which were later dropped.

"All I want to say about Theo is that we gave him opportunities at this university and this football program and he didn't take advantage of those opportunities," Beamer said. "I made a decision that it was best if we parted ways with Mr. Miller."