Virginia Tech 52,
The day began with Virginia Tech's football team trying to forget about its first loss of the season, a bitter defeat to Miami two weeks ago that knocked the Hokies out of the national championship race. But it ended with an unexpected array of new possibilities after No. 7 Virginia Tech crushed rival Virginia at Scott Stadium here -- and especially after Georgia Tech stunned No. 3 Miami more than 1,000 miles away.
Because of the Yellow Jackets' improbable 14-10 victory over the Hurricanes at the Orange Bowl, the Hokies moved back into first place in the ACC's Coastal Division. If Virginia Tech beats North Carolina in next week's regular season finale at Lane Stadium, it will play Florida State in the inaugural ACC championship game in Jacksonville, Fla., on Dec. 3. A victory there would earn the Hokies a lucrative Bowl Championship Series appearance for the second season in a row.
"The questions I've been asked for two weeks is: 'What's the state of your football team? Are they going to collapse?' " Hokies Coach Frank Beamer said. "I thought this football team showed some great stuff today. That kind of just shows that this crowd has a little something to them."
Apparently, some Virginia Tech fans were so excited they couldn't wait to get the day started. Under the cloak of a bitterly cold autumn night, an unknown number of presumably Hokies fans jumped the fence surrounding Scott Stadium sometime early Saturday morning, avoiding the not-so-watchful eyes of security personnel, and then spray-painted a maroon "T" next to the Cavaliers' white "V" logo at midfield.
Virginia officials covered the graffiti with green spray paint before the Cavaliers and Hokies kicked off at noon on Saturday, but maybe they shouldn't have even bothered. The Cavaliers were just as defenseless against Virginia Tech in a humiliating 52-14 loss in front of a sold-out crowd of 63,344, the Cavs' worst home defeat since No. 3 Clemson blasted them 55-0 in the 1984 opener.
By the time Hokies backup quarterback Cory Holt took a knee in the victory formation with about 30 seconds left, and after Beamer was doused with Gatorade by his players on the sideline, it seemed the Hokies were back playing in southwest Virginia.
"We wanted to make a statement not only to the people in Virginia, but to people everywhere, that Virginia Tech is the best team in the state and is a powerhouse program," safety Aaron Rouse said.
Two weeks after the Hokies suffered their deflating 27-7 loss to the Hurricanes, they looked like a powerhouse again against the Cavaliers, who looked like, well, the team they often are when they play important games. Virginia Tech dominated Virginia on both sides of the football, running for 333 yards and five touchdowns and holding the Cavaliers to 254 yards of total offense.
The Hokies' 52 points were the most points ever scored in the 87 meetings between the schools. Virginia Tech beat Virginia for the sixth time in the last seven games and handed the Cavaliers their first home loss of the season and only their third loss in their last 24 games here.
"I never, in a million years, thought the game was going to turn out like this," Virginia quarterback Marques Hagans said.
The Hokies could seemingly do nothing wrong against the Cavaliers. Marcus Vick threw for 170 yards and two touchdowns on 15-for-21 passing after his forgettable performance against the Hurricanes, in which he lost four fumbles and threw two interceptions. Tailback Brandon Ore ran 15 times for 115 yards and two touchdowns, and senior Cedric Humes ran for 113 yards and three touchdowns, the first time the Hokies had two 100-yard runners in the same game since 2002.
"I expected something high and low," Tech linebacker Vince Hall said. "I expected our score to be high and their's to be low."
The Cavaliers (6-3, 3-4 ACC) didn't help themselves in separating from the rest of the ACC pack. The conference will have at least eight teams eligible for the postseason -- the winner of next week's game between Maryland and North Carolina State will be the eighth -- but has only five postseason spots outside of the BCS. Virginia still faces another steep challenge at Miami next week, but Liberty Bowl associate executive director Harold Graeter sounded pretty confident the Cavaliers could end up playing the Conference USA champion in Memphis on Dec. 31.
"The outcome of today's game doesn't change anything," Graeter said. "It doesn't diminish our interest in Virginia at all."