Weekend Rooting Guide
by Matthew McKinley, 9/7/01

Wow. Only two weeks into the season and I’ve already taken a week off. I wish I could get away with that at work, but no, even the government is not that lenient. For those of you who missed last week’s non-existent column, you can blame the guy who nailed the driver’s side door on my Explorer.

However, this week, in between training sessions for my upcoming battle with the insurance company, I actually managed to put out a Weekend Rooting Guide, just for those of you who need the emotional guidance come Fall Saturdays. Hopefully, this week’s effort can erase the damage caused by my absence last weekend.

For those of you who are new to the Guide this year, there are a few changes from how it appeared last year. This year, there are four areas in which a rooting interest is decided, which are melded together into an overall rooting recommendation. The areas in which each game is judged are the following:

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 to teams that they don’t care about, will say, "I’ll root for that team." (Sometimes, this category can overrule all others. See Notre Dame below.)

Conference Implications: Anything that makes the Big East look good. This one will usually track closely with Strength of Schedule when it comes to Big East teams. It also includes anything that would make another major conference look bad.

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.) However, SOS for the Bowl Coalition Series is not all there is to look at. Strength of Schedule factors in to the computer rankings as well. So, when there is no discernible BCS SOS impact on a game, the tie will go to the higher ranked team in Kenneth Massey’s VT Connectivity Ratings, which incorporate more than opponents’ schedules.

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.

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

Top 25

UL-Monroe (0-1) @ (#1) Florida (1-0)
Saturday, 8 September @ 6:00pm – Gainesville, FL

And you thought a 49-14 pasting of Marshall was a blowout. Wait until Spurrier grabs a hold of the…what the heck are they anyways….Indians? This hyphenated-Louisiana (credit to Jim Alderson for that name) is in for a loooooong evening…
Gut Feeling: UL-Monroe. Nobody likes Spurrier
Conference Implications: UL-Monroe. Could you imagine how much an upset would shake up things? To quote Tony Shalhoub from Galaxy Quest, "It [would be] a hell of a thing…"
Postseason Implications: UL-Monroe. A no brainer.
Strength of Schedule: UL- Monroe (on UCF’s schedule)
Root: UL-Monroe

Rutgers (1-0) @ (#2) Miami (1-0)
Saturday @ 4:00pm – Coral Gables, FL

No doubt about it. Miami’s win last week over Penn State was just a tad more impressive than Rutgers’ win over Buffalo (Tetonka).
Gut: Rutgers. I think we’d all like to see Schiano do well.
Conf: Miami. It’s better for the Big East if they win.
Post: Miami. It’s better for the Hokies if they’re undefeated when we beat them.
SOS: wash (slight edge to Rutgers)
Root: Rutgers

North Texas (0-1) @ (#3) Oklahoma (1-0)
Saturday @ 7:30pm – Norman, OK

Game number three on the Top 25. Blowout number three on the Top 25. And they always accuse Tech of "Scheduling for Success". Go figure.
Gut: North Texas. Gotta go with the underdogs in this one.
Conf: North Texas. Are they even in a conference?
Post: North Texas. A loss by the #3 team in the polls would be a wonderful thing for us.
SOS: wash (slight edge to Oklahoma)
Root: North Texas (I don’t think they even have a nickname!)

(#17) Notre Dame (0-0) @ (#4) Nebraska (2-0)
Saturday @ 8:00pm – Lincoln, NE

Hey, starting out with the number four team in the nation is just fine and dandy, but giving them two games to work out the kinks beforehand is just ludicrous. If Notre Dame doesn’t win this game (which they won’t), then faint sounds of "Na-Na-Na-Na" will begin to air around South Bend.
Gut: Nebraska. Hokies just can not root for Notre Dame.
Conf: Notre Dame. Honestly, with Notre Dame playing three BE teams, a win here would help the conference.
Post: Notre Dame. Tech’s postseason opportunities would be much better with Nebraska out of the way.
SOS: Notre Dame. They play WVU, BC, and Pitt.
Root: Nebraska. There are just some times when Gut Feeling is the most important thing.

Alabama-Birmingham (1-0) @ (#5) Florida State (1-0)
Saturday @ 5:30pm – Tallahassee, FL

We’re back to the cupcakes, I see. Well, at least UAB isn’t near as bad as North Texas or UL-Monroe. They may be extreme underdogs, but don’t discount the whopping 65 total yards they gained on Tech in 1999.
Gut: UAB. Gritty play in 1999 earned my admiration (but not my respect—they still sucked).
Conf: UAB. Anything that makes the ACC look bad, etc.
Post: UAB. Get them damn Seminoles out of the Hokies’ way.
SOS: wash (slight edge to UAB)
Root: Alabama-Birmingham

North Carolina (0-2) @ (#6) Texas (1-0)
Saturday @ 12:00pm – Austin, TX

Didn’t somebody say that Ronald Curry was going to be a better college quarterback than Michael Vick? They were right, at least for this year, as Michael’s playing on Sundays. Somehow I have the feeling that this isn’t the game where Ronald (thanks for seeing the light in Feb. 1998) turns it around…
Gut: Texas. Atlee Hokie put it best. Never root for Carolina.
Conf: Texas. You might think this is a wash, but the ACC is generally perceived together with the Big East. UNC loses, the ACC looks bad, the Big East by default looks better.
Post: UNC. Texas is still ranked ahead of the Hokies. (At least until they tank a game.)
Root: Inclement weather

(#7) Tennessee (1-0) @ Arkansas (1-0)
Saturday @ 9:00pm – Fayetteville, AR

This game always seems to go down to the wire. And at the end of the season, too. You think maybe that’s why the game was moved to this early in the season?
Gut: Arkansas. I still think that Tennessee was KJ’s "School X".
Conf: wash
Post: Arkansas.
SOS: wash (slight edge to Tennessee)
Root: Arkansas

Utah (1-0) @ (#8) Oregon (1-0)
Saturday @ 9:00pm – Eugene, OR

Hey, I like Oregon. They seem to have risen to the top through the combination of a strong defense and a loud, nuts-crazy crowd at home. Kinda sounds like a school I know…
Gut: Oregon. Ducks vs. Utes. Tough call, not! QUACK, QUACK!
Conf: Utah. Mountain West beating the Pac-10. Gives me chills just thinking about it.
Post: Utah. Like ‘em or not, the Ducks are still ranked above the Hokies.
SOS: wash (slight edge to Utah)
Root: Utah

Western Michigan (1-0) @ (#9) Virginia Tech (1-0)
Saturday @ 12:00pm – Blacksburg, VA

If I have to explain this game, then you are on the wrong website.

(#10) Michigan (1-0) @ (#15) Washington (0-0)
Saturday @ 3:30pm – Seattle, WA

This actually looks like it might be a good matchup. If I wasn’t to be out car shopping, I might actually watch this game.
Gut: Washington. Did you really think I’d say Mi-Chicken?
Conf: wash (that’s a "wash", not Washington)
Post: Washington. Not much of an underdog, but an underdog nonetheless.
SOS: wash (slight edge to Mi-Chicken)
Root: Charley Steiner’s favorite team (the Huskies)

Southern Cal (1-0) @ (#11) Kansas State (0-0)
Saturday @ 6:30pm – Manhattan, KS

Wait a sec! What’s wrong with this picture? Shouldn’t Kansas State be playing North Texas or something like that? Oops, my bad. Oklahoma beat them to it.
Gut: Kansas State. Most Hokies like their previous policy of "Scheduling for Success." At least those who drink Kool-Aid do.
Conf: wash
Post: Southern Cal. K State is just ranked too high.
SOS: wash (slight edge to Southern Cal.)
Root: Trojan man! Hmmmm-mmmmmm!

(#12) Oregon State (0-1) @ New Mexico State (0-2)
Saturday @ 9:00pm – Las Cruces, NM

Do think this game is going to be a blowout or what? After getting punked by Fresno State last weekend, I think that the Beavers are going to pull out all the stops. Oh, by the way, smart move buying a Manhattan billboard for Joey Harrington’s Heisman campaign. I have a feeling that you’re going to see stacks of "Harrington for Heisman" bumper stickers in surplus stores across Oregon.
Gut: New Mexico State. I know that OSU has a cool nick, and they did us a favor by destroying Notre Dame last year, but they looked like thugs doing it. Just can’t root for them.
Conf: New Mexico State. Nice to see a ranked PathetiC-10 team lose.
Post: New Mexico State. OSU is ranked. ‘Nuff said.
SOS: wash (slight edge to New Mexico State)
Root: Go Aggies!

(#13) Georgia Tech (2-0) @ Navy (0-1)
Saturday @ 12:00pm – Annapolis, MD

This one’s gonna get ugly, folks. Last weekend, Tech ran up the score early against the Citadel, and then subbed liberally. A 35-7 score could have easily been twice that. Navy isn’t that much better than last year. But how to root for this game? You all know my GT ties, but the Navy is my employer. I don’t know about this one.
Gut: Georgia Tech. They had some great fans at the lightning bowl last year.
Conf: Navy. A win by the Middies would embarrass the ACC.
Post: Georgia Tech. We don’t need to root against them because they’re behind us, and it would be great to meet them in a BCS bowl this year.
SOS: Navy. They play Temple, BC, and Rutgers, while GT plays only Syracuse and UVA-C.
Root: Aw, heck, root for them both. (Boss, take not, I’m not rooting against Navy!)

(#14) UCLA (1-0) @ Kansas (1-0)
Saturday @ 8:30pm – Lawrence, KS

Huh? Kansas has a football team? When did they start playing something other than basketball? Now I’m confused. ;^)
Gut: Kansas. Robert Goulet singing "Look out here comes the Jaaaayhawks. Double-team and say your praaaaaayers!" is such a classic ESPN commercial, I gotta go with them.
Conf: Kansas. Heck, Kansas is the BCS conference equivalent of a Sun Belt team.
Post: Kansas. An upset of UCLA would do wonders for the PathetiC-10.
SOS: wash (slight edge to Kansas)
Root: Look out here come the Jaaaaayhawks!

Utah State (0-1) @ (#16) Louisiana State (1-0)
Saturday @ 8:00pm – Baton Rouge, LA

Utah State lost to Utah last week. Huh? What are they doing playing a rivalry game in the first week? (At least, I assume it’s a rivalry for them, even though nobody outside the Mormon State has ever heard of it.) That’s about as dumb as….as….scheduling Nebraska for the season opener.
Gut: LSU. I heard they party down in Red Stick.
Conf: Utah State. What, me wish the SEC to lose OOC games? Naaaaaw!
Post: Utah State. Pity that LSU is still undefeated, forcing me to root against them.
SOS: Utah State. They play UConn.
Root: Utah State. (Sorry, I don’t know what their mascot is.)

Wofford (0-0) @ (#19) Clemson (1-0)
Saturday @ 1:00pm – Clemson, SC

The experts say that Tech opens up with a pretty easy four-game stretch. They obviously haven’t looked at Clemson’s schedule. Central Florida, Wofford, Duke, and Virginia. Four cupcakes (heh heh heh). Who is Wofford, you might ask? Well, I do know that the Terriers have an outstanding OG in Eric Nash, a two-year All-Southern Conference lineman, I believe. And I also know that he had an outstanding A.P. Physics teacher in high school. Me. Eric, I’m looking forward to seeing you knock some Tiggers on their butts on Saturday (if I can find the game on a 2nd TV).
Gut: Wofford. For obvious reasons.
Conf: Wofford. Even more ACC black-eye potential.
Post: Wofford. Clemson’s still undefeated.
SOS: Clemson.
Root: Tear ‘em up, Terriers!

(#20) Northwestern (0-0) @ Nevada-Las Vegas (0-1)
Friday @ 8:00pm – Las Vegas, NV

Northwestern is going to be on an emotional roller-coaster in their first game since the tragic death of safety Rashidi Wheeler. If UNLV hadn’t looked so sloppy against Arkansas last week, I’d give them a chance to up and bite N’Western on the tookus. However, I don’t do rational picks here. ;^)
Gut: Northwestern. I’d like to see them do well after such a terrible Fall practice.
Conf: UNLV. N’Western is still Big Ten, though.
Post: UNLV. And N’Western is ranked.
SOS: wash (slight edge to Northwestern.)
Root: the UNLV Gamblin’…errr…Runnin’ Rebels

(#21) South Carolina (1-0) @ (#24) Georgia (1-0)
Saturday @ 7:45pm – Athens, GA

Athens, GA on game day is probably the only place you will see grown women in dresses crawling around on the ground barking like a dog. It’s actually pretty funny to watch, unless I suppose if one of them came with you. I’ve been there twice for games, both of them against Georgia Tech, and I will say that Athens on game day is definitely a sight to see.
Gut: South Carolina. Great mascot name.
Conf: wash
Post: Georgia, though I suppose you could pick either one.
SOS: wash (slight edge to South Carolina)
Root: Cocks! (I had to throw that in somewhere.)

Fresno State (2-0) @ (#23) Wisconsin (1-1)
Saturday @ 12:00pm – Madison, WI

In one of the surprise stories of the year, Fresno State has sprinted out of the starters gate, shocking both Colorado and Oregon State. Will they be able to keep it up? Maybe. They looked really, really good against OSU last week. Wisconsin hasn’t looked that impressive in games against UVA-C and Oregon.
Gut: Fresno State. AKA Virginia Tech West
Conf: Fresno State. It would be great to see UW lose two straight after beating UVA-C.
Post: Fresno State, though I suppose you could say UW because VT-W is undefeated.
SOS: wash (slight edge to Fresno State)
Root: Virginia Tech West – in a clean sweep

Opponents’ Games

Boston College (1-0) @ Stanford (0-0)
Saturday @ 10:00pm – Stanford, CA

Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out who to root for in this game, now does it?
All Four Categories: Boston College. Duh.
Root: Gee, what a surprise. Boston College!

Ohio (0-1) @ West Virginia (0-1)
Saturday @ 1:00pm – Morgantown, WV

Hey, Rich. Just how well do you think your fast-break offense is going to work when your players are big, fat, and slow? And have beer-bellies bigger than mine?
All Four Categories: West Virginia.
Root: Fear the ‘Eers! – Geesh, what a stupid thing to say!

Central Florida (0-1) @ Syracuse (0-2)
Saturday @ 12:00pm – Syracuse, NY

Once again, the tough schedule to start the season jumps up and bites Coach P in the behind. Speaking of Coach P, is there another coach in the conference, or the nation for that matter, that is more of a lame duck coach than he is? I didn’t think so.
Gut: Central Florida. It’s fun to watch Syracuse fans complain about their coach.
Conf: Syracuse. No comment.
Post: Syracuse. Conference image helps us out come selection Sunday.
SOS: Syracuse.
Root: for that big, round, orange, tangerine-looking thing

Toledo (1-0) @ Temple (1-0)
Saturday @ 4:00pm – Philadelphia, PA

This could be a really interesting game. Toledo always seems to have a good team, and Temple is on the rise. I think that most Hokies want Temple to do well, even though they’re leaving the conference. It would be nice to see them have a winning season for once.
All Four Categories: Temple
Root: Hooters!

South Florida (0-1) @ Pittsburgh (1-0)
Saturday @ 1:30pm – Pittsburgh, PA

Even without Antonio Bryant in the game, the Panthers should have no problem manhandling the Bulls. Bryant will be sitting on the sideline, nursing a sprained ankle and waving a red cape. But no matter how much he pisses off the Bulls, they’ll still lose.
All Four Categories: Pitt[sburgh]
Root: Pitt[sburgh]

Eastern Washington (0-0) @ Connecticut (0-1)
Saturday @ 1:00pm – Storrs, CT

Again, like Temple, I think that most Hokies would like to see UConn do well. They certainly are laying the foundation to improve, but some wins now would help their recruiting immensely. With their new QB Henry, I don’t think they’re the worst team in Division 1-A anymore.
All Four Categories: UConn
Root: Charley Steiner’s second favorite team [Huskies]

-- Matthew McKinley (Freddyburg Hokie)


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