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by Will Stewart, TechSideline.com
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The Hokies have been one of the top teams in the nation in the Beamer Bowl Era in both wins and Top 25 rankings. Virginia Tech has been a fixture in the national polls since 1993, almost always earning a spot in the rankings. And since the Michael Vick era, VT has spent a lot of its time ranked in the Top Ten.
The Hokies are known for overachieving, and for the most part, this table supports that theory, showing that the Hokies generally end the season ranked higher than they started.
Note that seasons where VT ended higher in the rankings are shown in orange, and seasons where VT ended lower in the rankings are shown in maroon.
Here are a few notes about the trends that stand out in the rankings.
Now, let’s look at each specific season.
1993: Virginia Tech was coming off a 2-8-1 season, and many fans were fuming that Frank Beamer was still coaching in Blacksburg. However, the Hokies surprised everyone by finishing 9-3 and winning the Independence Bowl, and they have never looked back. The Hokies broke into the national rankings in 1993 on October 24 with a #24 ranking in the Coaches' Poll, following a 49-42 win over Rutgers. The Hokies were out of the rankings only once more the rest of the season.
1994: The Hokies began the 1994 season ranked in both polls. They started 4-0 and climbed to #10 in the Coaches’ Poll on the backs of two big wins, one at Boston College and a nationally-televised Thursday night game against West Virginia. Tech later lost at Syracuse and at Miami, and then the wheels fell off after an embarrassing 42-23 home loss to Virginia in which Tech turned the ball over eight times. Tech then got blown out by Tennessee in the Gator Bowl, and barely hung on to a #24 ranking in the Coaches’ Poll.
1995: The 1995 team began the season ranked #24 by the AP Poll. The Hokies proceeded to lose the first two games of the season at home to Boston College, 20-14, and Cincinnati, 16-0. But you know what happened after that. The Hokies got it together, beat Miami 13-7, running the table, and finishing the season 10-2 with a Sugar Bowl win over Texas. The Hokies didn’t break back into the Top 25 until they beat Syracuse on Nov. 4 to go to 7-2, but they finished in the Top Ten in both polls.
1996: Tech was ranked fairly high in the preseason in 1996 and started the season 3-0. They went to Syracuse on September 28 ranked #18 by the AP, got run out of the Carrier Dome 52-21, and dropped out of the AP rankings. Tech hung on to a #23 ranking in the Coaches’ Poll, and stayed there the entire season, though it would take three weeks to return to the AP rankings. VT went on to beat East Carolina, Miami, West Virginia and Virginia to end the season. Tech went to the Orange Bowl and lost to Nebraska.
1997: The 1997 Hokies were ranked #25 in the Coaches’ Poll to begin the season. This team looked pretty good at first, beating Syracuse 31-3 in Blacksburg, part of a 4-0 start that led to a #12 in the Coaches’ Poll. VT then fell in a home upset to Miami of Ohio. Quarterback Al Clark was banged up, wideout Shawn Scales got hurt, and the Hokies limped to the finish line, finishing unranked after getting crushed 42-3 by North Carolina in the Gator Bowl.
1998: The Hokies had their mojo back in 1998, playing great defense and excelling on special teams, despite an offense that didn’t produce that much. Tech started unranked and rose to #10 in the Coaches’ Poll on the strength of a 5-0 start. They would have risen higher as well, had they not run into the buzz-saw (sarcasm alert) that was Temple on October 17. Al Clark was hurt, and Temple rallied from a 17-point deficit for the victory. Tech also lost in the final seconds to Syracuse and Virginia, but finished on a high note in the Music City Bowl by beating Alabama 38-7. Tech finished in the Top 25 in both polls.
1999: The 1999 team didn’t begin as highly ranked as they should have, but we’ll forgive the voters on this one. No one knew what college football was getting with Michael Vick. Tech blew out almost everyone they played, got some last minute heroics from Vick and Shayne Graham at West Virginia, and lost to Florida State in the National Championship game in the Sugar Bowl 46-29. The Hokies finished #2 in the AP and #3 in the Coaches' poll that year.
2000: The 2000 team returned an explosive offense, but only three defensive starters. The Hokies rolled over some overmatched opponents early and toughed out a close win over Pittsburgh to overcome an injury to Michael Vick. They then went into the Miami game without a healthy Vick or Andre Davis, and got whipped. But the game featured a lot of hype, as the Hokies were ranked #2 and Miami was #3. However, VT put the loss behind them and won out, beating Clemson in the Gator Bowl to finish 11-1 for the second consecutive season and ending up #6 in both polls.
2001: The 2001 team had a lot of hype surrounding it. The defense was great, but Vick was gone, the offensive line was gutted by graduation, and Lee Suggs tore his ACL in the season opener. The Hokies were a good team, but they didn’t have the horses on the offensive end to stay in the Top Ten. Tech got as high as #4 in the Coaches' Poll before they fell out of the Top Five with a loss to Syracuse, and later lost to Pittsburgh, Miami and Florida State in the Gator Bowl. However, the Hokies still finished ranked #18 in both polls.
2002: This was billed as a rebuilding year for Tech, but the pollsters still had the Hokies at #16 in both polls to begin the year. And VT did a lot to back that up, beating LSU, Texas A&M and Marshall. However, Tech showed their weakness at quarterback, had injuries on defense, and wore down as the season went on. Pittsburgh knocked Tech out of the #3 spot on November 2, and the Hokies lost a total of three in a row. However, they did manage to beat UVA, and knocked off Air Force in the Diamond Walnut San Francisco Bowl to finish 10-4 and ranked in both polls.
2003: The 2003 team was picked by many to compete for the National Championship, and the Hokies looked good early on, rising as high as #3 in both polls. However, a Thursday night trip to Morgantown ended their title hopes in a lopsided manner. VT rallied to crush Miami 31-7, but then fell to Pitt, UVA, and Boston College, as well as Cal in the Insight Bowl. The Hokies finished unranked, tumbling all the way out of the polls after being #3.
2004: Last season was supposed to be another rebuilding year, and it looked like that was going to be the case after NC State used ten sacks to knocked off the Hokies in Blacksburg, dropping VT to 2-2. But the Hokies rallied behind a great defense and the senior leadership of Bryan Randall, finishing the regular season with eight straight wins and a berth in the Sugar Bowl, where they lost to undefeated Auburn 16-13. Tech finished #10 in both polls.
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|TechSideline.com Updates From the Past Week|
With Octagon's Andy Ross
of the 2005 Football Recruiting Class
Keys to the ACC Championship, Part 2: NC State, Boston College, and Virginia
VHSCA All-Star Game Report and Scouting Reports
Side Construction Photos
The Year of Our Discontent, Part 1
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