Virginia Tech's football team remained third in the Bowl Championship Series ratings released yesterday, but the Hokies made up ground on No. 2 Texas, which struggled in its 47-28 victory over Oklahoma State last weekend.
Two-time defending national champion Southern California regained the BCS top spot with a .9767 average, a week after losing it to Texas for the first time in two seasons. The Longhorns, who trailed the Cowboys, 28-12, at halftime on Saturday night, are second at .9729, followed by the Hokies (.9294), Alabama (.8695) and UCLA (.7874). The top five teams in the BCS ratings are the only undefeated teams left in Division I-A.
Although the Hokies remain .0435 of a point behind second place -- the top two teams in the final BCS standings play in the Jan. 4 Rose Bowl for at least a share of college football's national championship -- they inched close enough to the Longhorns that at least one BCS analyst believes Tech could move ahead of Texas if both teams finish unbeaten.
"You're already seeing signs that Virginia Tech is catching Texas," said Jerry Palm, who projects the BCS ratings on his Web site, CollegeBCS.com. "The Hokies are creeping up and already have caught Southern Cal in three computer polls. It won't be long before they catch and jump Texas. Of course, they've got to keep winning."
The Hokies, the defending ACC champions, will have an opportunity on Saturday to impress voters in the two human polls when they play Miami at Lane Stadium. The coaches' top 25 poll and Harris poll make up two-thirds of the BCS formula; the average of six computer rankings makes up the other third.
Texas is ranked No. 1 in all six computer rankings, but the Longhorns' mediocre schedule the rest of the way -- their last three opponents are a combined 13-11 and they'll probably play Colorado, which is currently 6-2, in the Big 12 Conference championship game -- could drop them a couple of spots in the computer indexes, Palm said.
Virginia Tech, meantime, will play the Hurricanes, who are No. 6 in the BCS ratings, and could play No. 9 Florida State in the inaugural ACC championship game in Jacksonville, Fla., on Dec. 3. The Hokies also play at Virginia on Nov. 19 and host North Carolina on Nov. 26.
"If Virginia Tech ends up number one in all six computer polls, like Texas is now, and the Longhorns are number three in the computer polls, that would make up the current gap in the human polls," Palm said. "That's the best-case scenario for Virginia Tech. It's not like last year when Auburn was third in the human polls and third in the computer polls."
Auburn was one of three undefeated teams from BCS conferences remaining at the end of the 2004 regular season. But Southern California and Oklahoma finished first and second in the BCS rankings, respectively, and the Trojans beat the Sooners, 55-19, in the Orange Bowl. The Tigers beat Virginia Tech, 16-13, in the Sugar Bowl.