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1-AA Teams with No Success Against the Hokies
by Chris Coleman, TechSideline.com, TSLMail #449, September 10, 2010

 Virginia Tech will be facing a 1-AA opponent in James Madison on Saturday. Though the Dukes are ranked #12 in the 1-AA polls, and have a National Championship to their credit, history says they don't have much of a chance against the Hokies this weekend.

Tech has faced six 1-AA opponents during the Beamer Bowl Era. None of them came close to beating Tech, four of them were held scoreless, and only one managed to score a touchdown.

Virginia Tech vs. 1-AA Teams
Year Opp. Pts.

James Madison

47 0

James Madison

43 0

Florida A&M

62 0


38 0

William & Mary

44 3
2008 Furman 24 7
Total 258 10

The big difference between the 1-A and 1-AA levels is the number of scholarship players on each team. 1-A teams like Virginia Tech can have 85 scholarship players in the program at any given time. A 1-AA team like James Madison can only have 63 players on scholarship.

That's a 22 player difference between the two levels, which is an entire two-deep on one side of the ball, or the starting lineup for both sides of the ball. Not only are 1-AA teams going to have less talent than their 1-A counterparts, but they are going to have a lot less depth as well.

That's why it's always a major upset when a 1-AA program manages to defeat a team from one of the BCS conferences. There are a number of 1-AA teams that aren't much different from some smaller 1-A schools, such as the Sun Belt, when it comes to talent level. However, the depth issue is something that 1-AA teams are always going to have to deal with.

Most of Virginia Tech's games against 1-AA competition haven't produced many storylines. In fact, the last one against Furman was a snoozefest that the Hokies found themselves winning just 3-0 at halftime. That was the closest Tech has come to getting upset by a 1-AA team.

Both of Tech's games against James Madison in the Beamer Bowl Era are remembered by fans. In 1999, it was r-freshman quarterback Michael Vick running through the JMU defense for three touchdowns, including the famous flip at the goal line. That was also JMU coach Mickey Matthews' first game on the sideline for the Dukes, and he's gone on to have an excellent career in Harrisonburg.

In the next meeting in 2003, All-American running back Kevin Jones was thrown into the Lane Stadium wall on a vicious late by Demetrius Shambley. The Hokies won that game 43-0 in what was otherwise a laugher, but a lot of Tech fans still remember that cheap shot by Shambley.

Of course, the Hokies have to take James Madison seriously. 1-AA upsets of 1-A teams do happen. Just last week we saw Jacksonville State rally from a 31-10 halftime deficit to beat Ole Miss 49-48 in triple overtime, with a true freshman quarterback to boot. Kansas also lost to North Dakota State last week.

In 2007, we saw Appalachian State win at Michigan to open the season, and Michigan went on to beat Florida in the Capital One Bowl. Last year we saw Northern Iowa nearly knock off Iowa 17-16 in the opening weekend, and the Hawkeyes ended up blowing out Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl.

The Hokies will have to show up and play against JMU. You can be sure that the Dukes see Tech as vulnerable team because of the short week, and it will be tough to get up emotionally after Monday night's disappointing loss.



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