Weekend Rooting Guide
by Matthew McKinley, 8/24/01

Well, it’s that time of year again. Fall. Stadiums around the country become the third-largest city in their state as tens of thousands of fans gather to watch the modern-day gladiators do battle on the gridiron. I’m talking about college football—the greatest spectator sport created by man.

Ah, the battles to be fought and the glories to be won among the lush green blades of grass. Where the atmosphere at the stadium resembles….


(Not the waka-waka sound you hear in rap music, I mean the BRRRR-RIP sound you get when your LP hits a scratch and the stylus travels clear across the vinyl. That’s what I’m talking about.)

What the heck am I doing? This ain’t Keats in "Ode to College Football"! This is the Weekend Rooting Guide, your sometimes correct, often humorous, but never serious look at the weekend ahead. I’m back again, and for those of you who can’t stand that I was rooting for Virginia last year, we've got some changes, because I couldn’t stand it either.

One of the major changes in this year’s edition is that there are four categories in which a rooting interest is decided. The team to root for in each category is chosen, and the results are tabulated into an overall rooting suggestion, with a highly scientific tie-breaking system in case of a 2-2 split. The categories that I have chosen to break down the rooting choices are:

Gut Feeling: This is for those teams that most Hokies just absolutely cannot stand (e.g. Virginia, Notre Dame) and will not root for under any circumstances. Also included in this category are other favorite schools, and less important things like a cool team nickname, color scheme, or any other reason that someone, when sitting down to watch two teams that they don’t care about, will say, "I’ll root for that team."

Conference Implications: Anything that makes the Big East look good. This one will usually track closely with Strength of Schedule considerations when it comes to Big East teams. It also includes anything that would make another conference look bad (see Fresno State @ Colorado below).

Postseason Implications: Anything that has to do with what bowl Virginia Tech may go to at the end of the season. This can include rankings, possible bowl opponents, and overall media attention that the Hokies may or may not get based on the outcome of a game.

Strength of Schedule: This is basically what I used for the WRG last year. In this category, the team that has more of an impact on Virginia Tech’s Strength of Schedule calculations for the BCS will be the rooting choice. It’s that easy. (But try listening to Jerry Palm of CollegeBCS.com explain it. I swear it will make your head spin.)

Other: Occasionally this will pop up, and it will include anything not really covered in the four previous categories. If it shows up enough, I may make it a regular part.

Since there are only seven games this week, I am going to go ahead and do a full capsule on each game, whereas I will not be doing full capsules for all teams in the weeks to come. In the future, only Top 25 and Tech opponents will get the full treatment, but I’ll still include overall rooting choices for all the teams on Tech’s opponents’ opponents games.

Oh, and before I forget, rankings are taken from the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll, and a complete composite schedule can be found here: TechSideline's Composite Schedule

Well, heeeeere we go!

John Thompson Classic
New Mexico State @ Louisville
Thursday, 23 August @ 8:00pm – Louisville, KY

Great. Why did they have to start the college football season with Loserville? I mean, c’mon ESPN! Couldn’t you have picked a better team than that to debut with? (And don’t tell me not to end a sentence with a preposition—I’ll just change the sentence to "Couldn’t you have picked a better team than that to debut with, idiots?") Hokie fans should never forgive, and never forget, how they kicked Tech out of the Metro conference, even though Tech ended up the better for it.

Gut Feeling: New Mexico State. Loserville is just not an option here.
Conference Implications: It’s a wash. No conference implications at all.
Postseason Implications: Also a wash. If Tech fans have to worry about New Mexico State or Loserville affecting our bowl slot, then the Hokies probably don’t deserve a bowl.
Strength of Schedule: Again, a wash. Neither New Mexico State nor Loserville show up on any Hokie opponents’ schedules.
Overall: Go Aggies!

Pigskin Classic
Texas Christian @ (#4) Nebraska
Saturday, 25 August @ 1:00pm – Lincoln, NE

TCU lost all-world RB LaDainian Tomlinson, and the OL was gutted, but we here at the WRG don’t care about that, do we? I mean, if the staff at the WRG attempted to pick who would actually win then, well, we’d be Beerman's Picks, wouldn’t we? We know this is going to be a blowout, but we call them as we see them—actually, we call them as we would like to see them…

Gut: TCU. Great nickname, great color scheme, underdogs…the works.
Conf: No conference implications here
Post: TCU. Somebody’s gotta hang a loss on NU, might as well be the Horny Toads.
SOS: Wash. Neither team appears on Hokie opponents’ schedules.
Overall: Go Horny Toads!

Eddie Robinson Classic
Virginia @ (#23) Wisconsin
Saturday, 25 August @ 2:00pm – Madison, WI

Oh, my. Virginia, with a brand new head coach, up against a ranked team on the road, on national television. That sounds like an event worthy of a party in its’ honor. A keg of beer, a widescreen TV, a bunch of college buddies, and a demolishing of my least favorite team. Ahhh, the memories that this day would make…..

Gut: Wisconsin. Twice. Three times, even.
Conf: Wisconsin, again. Anything that makes the ACC look bad, makes the Big East look better.
Post: Virginia. Wisconsin is ranked.
SOS: Virginia. I hate to say it, but a win by Virginia makes our SOS look better.
Other: Wisconsin. Virginia losing here (see "national television" above) helps our recruiting. A lot.
Overall: Ooooo, Wisconsin, Aahhh, Wisconsin, the cheese more people chooooooooose! (It’s a good thing I didn’t attach an mp3 of me singing that to this column.)

Black Coaches’ Association Classic
Tulane @ Brigham Young
Saturday, 25 August @ 4:30pm – Provo, UT

Hmmm. The Tulane Green Wave (weren’t they the #1 party school at one time) vs. Bring ‘em Young. Well, if I were tailgating at this game, I know which fans I would be tailgating with! But wait, do they even allow alcohol in the state of Utah? Somebody fill me in on that.

Gut: Tulane. Cool nickname, cooler logo, coolest town!
Conf: No conference implications here.
Post: Good Lord, I hope not.
SOS: Tulane. They play Central Florida.
Overall: Tulane (Or a lightning storm, if the Gazelle Group is promoting the game.)

Hispanic Fund Classic
North Carolina @ (#3) Oklahoma
Saturday, 25 August @ 7:45pm – Norman, OK

The Hispanic Fund Classic? Good idea, creating a preseason game that will last, oh, about 1 year. Oh, well, whatever floats your boat. Oklahoma played some OK ball last year, but Carolina, got a NEW COACH. JOHN BUNTING, YEEEAH!

Sorry about that. It’s out of my system now. Could you tell that was TIC? I hope so.

Gut: Oklahoma. Atlee Hokie said it best: "I’ll never root for North Carolina."
Conf: Oklahoma. Making the ACC look bad works for the Big East.
Post: North Carolina. Oklahoma needs to get punked in one game. Might as well be now.
SOS: North Carolina. They’re on Virginia’s schedule.
Other: Oklahoma. North Carolina recruits the Tidewater area too well, and the Hokies are in on enough good recruits in North Carolina that a loss here might help Tech out.
Overall: OOOOKLAHOMA where the wind goes sweeping down the plain! (Again, y’all are lucky I didn’t attach an mp3 of me singing to this column.)

Kickoff Classic
Syracuse @ (#13) Georgia Tech
Sunday, 26 August @ 2:00pm – East Rutherford, NJ

This looks to be the best game of the preseason lineup. The Jackets are very highly thought of this year, picked by many to unseat Florida State as the reigning ACC champion in an early-season tilt in Tallahassee. To do that, they need some confidence, and this is the place to get it, with a preseason road game (essentially) against a resurgent Syracuse team. [Sound of record scratching] Whoops. What’s up with the serious analysis? I sound too much like Beerman. ;^) Anyways, not a bad way to spend a Sunday hung over, watching the Swarm (Big 5 Hokie take note) playing Syracuse at the Meadowlands. I wonder if the grass will be painted?

Gut: Georgia Tech. I like them. Most Hokies like them. They’re pretty cool. (Gotta love the color scheme – white and gold)
Conf: Syracuse. They’re in the Big East Conference, after all (even if Tech fans hate playing against that DE they have. Freeney, was it?)
Post: Georgia Tech. An Orange (or Gator, or Rose) Bowl match up with Georgia Tech would be just what the doctor ordered for post BCA-Bowl blues.
SOS: Syracuse. They’re on our schedule, while Georgia Tech is on Virginia’s. Advantage: SU
Wow. The first tie of the season. That means I get to use my highly scientific tie-breaking device. (Anybody have a quarter?)
Overall: It's a toss-up. Most Hokies should root for Syracuse, but for me personally ... Oh, If I had a daughter, sir, I’d dress her in WHITE and GOLD. (Hey, I couldn’t buck the singing trend. And for those who are wondering, yes, I do yell TO HELL WITH GEORGIA!)

Jim Thorpe Classic
Fresno State @ Colorado
Sunday, 26 August @ 8:00pm – Boulder, CO

Yay. Another first-and-last-year preseason game. Is it just me, or has Colorado done absolutely nothing since stealing a share of the MNC from Georgia Tech in 1990? That fifth down play against Missouri was absolutely bogus, and college football fans everywhere should’ve been disgusted about that screw-up of a call. Oops, my white and gold is showing. ;^) Anyways, ho hum, another blowout.

Gut: Tough one, here. Gotta go with Colorado. Da buffs!
Conf: Fresno State. WAC vs. Big XII? That’d be funny if the WAC comes out on top. "Har, har!" (You know who I’m quoting, Doug.)
Post: Fresno State. If there are any more At-Large bids left in the bowl system, then it'd be better if the Hokies were able to grab it, rather than Colorado.
SOS: It’s a wash.
Overall: Fresno State (I couldn’t think of a single song about a Bulldog. Really. I tried.)

Well, there we have it. I hope you liked this year’s new format. I’ll be back next week with a WRG for the first week of the regular season.

-- Matthew McKinley (Freddyburg Hokie)


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