Florida State has lost three football games in a row for the first time since 1983 and isn't ranked in the Associated Press top 25 poll for the first time since late in the 2001 season.
But as vulnerable as the Seminoles might seem, Virginia Tech Coach Frank Beamer said his No. 5 Hokies still face a dangerous opponent in Saturday's inaugural ACC championship game at Alltel Stadium in Jacksonville, Fla.
"Some people are writing them off, but, I promise you, I'm not writing them off," Beamer said Sunday, a day after his team beat North Carolina, 30-3, at Lane Stadium to win the ACC's Coastal Division. "They can click at any second, so we better be ready to play."
The Hokies are overwhelming favorites to defend their ACC championship and win the league's automatic berth in the Bowl Championship Series. The ACC champion likely will be invited to play in the Jan. 3 Orange Bowl, possibly against Big Ten champion Penn State.
Florida State has won its past 11 games against Virginia Tech, including six in a row with Beamer as the Hokies' coach. The Seminoles defeated the Hokies, 30-17, in the 2002 Gator Bowl in the same stadium where the teams will play Saturday night.
The Seminoles lost at rival Florida, 34-7, on Saturday and they've been outscored 89-36 in consecutive losses to North Carolina State, Clemson and the Gators.
Florida State ranks first in the ACC in total offense (394.5 yards per game) and passing offense (290.1), but has struggled running the football and protecting quarterback Drew Weatherford.
As a result, offensive coordinator Jeff Bowden, the head coach's son, is under scrutiny again.
"It irritates me that as soon as we lose a ballgame, 'Let's fire Jeff Bowden,' " Bobby Bowden said. "I'm irritated over that. That's getting personal. They better be glad I like keeping this job."
On Sunday, ACC Commissioner John Swofford said the conference has begun discussions with bowl representatives about where to place its eight bowl-eligible teams. But until the Hokies and Seminoles play, there isn't much that can be finalized.
If Virginia Tech loses to Florida State, the Hokies would play in the Gator Bowl, probably knocking Miami to the Peach Bowl.
If the Seminoles lose their fourth game in a row, they would probably play in the Dec. 27 Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando against Kansas or Nebraska.
One bowl director said Sunday that Georgia Tech, which lost to rival Georgia, 14-7, on Saturday night, could still end up playing in the Gator Bowl, instead of Miami, which is ranked higher and finished with a better record than the Yellow Jackets.
But Georgia Tech upset Miami two weeks ago and would probably sell more tickets to the Jan. 2 game. Also, Hurricanes Coach Larry Coker said Sunday that he would prefer not playing Louisville in the Gator Bowl, because Miami plays the Cardinals early next season.