Virginia Tech moved up two spots in the Bowl Championship Series rankings released yesterday, but the Hokies still might need some help during the final three weeks of the regular season to claim one of the two at-large BCS berths.
As expected, two-time defending national champion Southern California and Texas, the only two undefeated teams left in Division I-A, remain on course to play in the Jan. 4 Rose Bowl for at least a share of the national championship. The Trojans remained No. 1 in the BCS standings with a .9829 average; the Longhorns are second at .9771.
In the previous seven years the BCS standings have determined which two teams played for at least a share of the national title, 12 undefeated teams held one of the top two spots this late in the season. Only one team, UCLA in 1998, failed to play in the championship game.
But if either the Trojans or Longhorns unexpectedly slip during their final two games, Miami seems to be the one-loss team that would move up. Alabama (.6893), which lost to LSU, 16-13, in overtime last Saturday, fell five spots to No. 8 and the Hurricanes (.8906) climbed to third. Penn State is fourth at .8502, followed by LSU (.8224), Virginia Tech (.7895) and Ohio State (.7295).
Even though the Hokies are ahead of Ohio State, Alabama and Notre Dame in the BCS standings -- the Fighting Irish are ninth at .6805 -- the Fiesta and Orange bowls might choose those teams over Virginia Tech. Notre Dame must win its last two games, against Syracuse and at Stanford, and finish in the top 12 of the BCS standings to be considered for an at-large berth.
The Crimson Tide would finish 10-1 by winning at Auburn on Saturday; the Buckeyes would finish 9-2 and as co-champions of the Big Ten if they beat Michigan on Saturday and Penn State wins at Michigan State (the Nittany Lions would get the BCS automatic spot because they beat Ohio State).
After the top two teams in the final BCS standings are placed in the Rose Bowl, and the other BCS conference champions are placed in their automatic spots (the ACC champion in the Orange Bowl and the Southeastern Conference champion in the Sugar Bowl), the Fiesta Bowl would have the first choice of the remaining teams because it would lose Texas, the Big 12 champion, to the Rose Bowl.
The Fiesta Bowl would choose a team from among the Big Ten champion, Big East champion and two at-large teams. The Orange Bowl would have the next choice, followed by another pick by the Fiesta, and then the Sugar Bowl would have the last choice.
If the Hokies did get a BCS bid, that would mean other ACC bowl-eligible teams, including Virginia and, possibly, Maryland, would move up a slot in the bowl pecking order.
Area Notes: Hokies Coach Frank Beamer said that senior tailback Mike Imoh probably won't play Saturday because of a badly sprained left ankle. . . . Virginia Coach Al Groh said during his weekly radio call-in show last night that some of his team's suspended players -- safety Tony Franklin, defensive end Vince Redd, wide receiver Ottowa Anderson and nose tackle Kwakou Robinson -- rejoined the team yesterday and practiced. He didn't say which ones. . . . Cavs safety Nate Lyles was released from U-Va. Medical Center, but won't play again this season. . . . ABC and ESPN will wait until Sunday to announce the starting times for several ACC games on Nov. 26. The starting times for Virginia at Miami, North Carolina at Virginia Tech and Georgia at Georgia Tech have been delayed. Two of the games will be televised by ABC, one at 3:30 p.m. and the other at 8 p.m., and the third game will be televised by ESPN at 7:45 p.m. The Maryland-North Carolina State game in Raleigh, N.C., will be televised on ESPN at noon.
Knee Injury Ends Hall's Year
Navy junior fullback Matt Hall is out for the season after tearing both the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee during his first carry in Saturday's loss at Notre Dame, Coach Paul Johnson said yesterday.
Hall, who was second on the team with 493 rushing yards and tied for the team lead with six touchdowns on 99 carries, will be replaced by sophomore Adam Ballard, who will make his first career start on Saturday when Navy (5-4) hosts Temple (0-10) .
"I'm disappointed for Matt, but it is 2005 and [doctors] will get it fixed," Johnson said. "Matt will work hard and come back."
The 6-foot-1, 240-pound Ballard (180 yards and three touchdowns on 47 carries) is more physical than Hall, who said he likely will have surgery early next month.
-- Jon Gallo