Virginia Tech played its best game of 2011 Saturday in a 38-0 thrashing of Virginia. But how does that state and regional rout echo nationally?
Do the 11-1 Hokies, as some of their most-ardent fans believe, merit a No. 3 ranking behind consensus top canines LSU and Alabama? Is their body of work superior to Oklahoma State’s, Stanford’s or even 10-2 Oregon’s?
I still think not.
With victories over Baylor, Kansas State, Missouri and Texas, Oklahoma State to me is a clear No. 3. The Cowboys’ only loss was at 6-5 Iowa State, in double-overtime, the day after a campus tragedy, and their regular-season finale Saturday against Oklahoma should show whether that No. 3 spot is merited.
Sure, Oregon has one more loss than Tech. But that defeat was on a neutral field against No. 1 LSU. The Ducks won by 23 at 11-1 Stanford, which I believe trumps any of Virginia Tech’s conquests. Their other loss was at home, by three, to Southern California.
The Cardinal, meanwhile, is the only team to win at Southern California.
So on my Associated Press ballot, I bumped the Hokies from No. 7 to No. 6, passing Arkansas in the wake of the Razorbacks’ lopsided loss at LSU.
The AP’s consensus has Tech No. 5, ahead of Oregon. Here’s a link to the complete poll.
The coaches' poll hasn't been released yet, but since the Hokies were No. 4 last week, they're likely to replace Arkansas at No. 3.
And here’s my ballot.
1. LSU (12-0): The Tigers erased a 14-point deficit against Arkansas in less than five minutes en route to a 41-17 victory. They looked in a word, invincible. Up next, the SEC championship game against Georgia.
2. Alabama (11-1): While the SEC, Big Ten, ACC and Pac-12 stage championship games, and as Oklahoma and Oklahoma State brace for Bedlam, the Crimson Tide chills after 42-14 Iron Bowl smackdown of Auburn and awaits national title game. Nice gig if you can get it.
3. Oklahoma State (10-1): The Cowboys had a much-needed week off after their loss to Iowa State and the plane crash that claimed two of the school’s women’s basketball coaches.
4. Oregon (10-2): After winning the Civil War 49-21, the Ducks host the inaugural Pac-12 title game. Too bad NCAA sanctions rendered Southern California ineligible and stuck Oregon with 6-6 UCLA, a 50-0 loser Saturday at USC.
5. Stanford (11-1): Andrew Luck quarterbacked the Cardinal over Notre Dame, 28-14, in his final home appearance Saturday. Up next a BCS game in January, most likely the Fiesta against Oklahoma or Oklahoma State. Compelling matchup either way.
6. Virginia Tech (11-1): Logan Thomas after 12 games has 2,525 yards passing, 18 touchdown passes, seven picks and a 60.5 completion percentage. Last year after 12 games, Tyrod Taylor had 2,258 yards, 20 touchdown passes, four interceptions and 60.2 percent accuracy. Kid is good. Silly good.
7. Boise State (10-1): The Broncos will conclude their regular season Saturday with a rout of New Mexico in Kellen Moore’s home farewell. But a home loss to TCU cost Boise the Mountain West title and BCS bid.
8. Houston (12-0): Who knew the point-a-minute Cougars could defend, too? Houston shut down potent Tulsa on Saturday 48-16 to clinch a spot opposite Southern Mississippi in this week’s Conference USA title contest. Win there, and Houston is BCS-bound, likely to Sugar Bowl.
9. Southern California (10-2): Lane Kiffin’s second season concluded with Saturday’s 50-0 victory over rival UCLA. Trojans faithful should be encouraged, especially if quarterback and serious Heisman contender Matt Barkley returns.
10. Arkansas (10-2): The Razorbacks were trending on Twitter with that 14-0 lead at LSU. Now, not so much.
11. Michigan State (10-2): Saturday’s 31-17 victory at Northwestern was a tune-up for this week’s rematch with Wisconsin in the Big Ten’s first championship game. Kirk Cousins’ Hail Mary beat the Badgers in October.
12. Oklahoma (9-2): The Sooners prepped for Oklahoma State by dusting Iowa State 26-6.
13. Wisconsin (10-2): Montee Ball scored four touchdowns in 45-7 rout of Penn State, giving him 34 on season, five shy of Barry Sanders’ Division I record.
14. Kansas State (9-2): The Wildcats were off Saturday, awaiting this week’s regular-season finale against Iowa State. Elder statesman Bill Snyder with one of his best coaching jobs.
15. South Carolina (10-2): The program’s second 10-win season came in the best way imaginable for Gamecocks fans, a 34-13 whipping of Clemson.
16. Georgia (10-2): Larry Munson (RIP) approved from the heavens as his hairy Dawgs beat Georgia Tech 31-17 Saturday for their 10th consecutive victory.
17. Michigan (10-2): Shoelaces Robinson accounted for five touchdowns and 337 yards as the Wolverines snapped a seven-game losing streak to Ohio State, 40-34. A Sugar Bowl bid likely.
18. TCU (9-2): Style points might matter in regular-season finale against UNLV as the Mountain West champs attempt to secure a top-16 BCS finish. That would translate into a BCS invite, if Houston lost to Southern Miss.
19. Baylor (8-3): Quarterback and Heisman hopeful Robert Griffin III sustained a concussion in Saturday’s 66-42 win over Texas Tech. Will he be available this week against visiting Texas?
20. Nebraska (9-3): The Cornhuskers rebounded impressively from lopsided loss at Michigan to pound Iowa 20-7 and improve their bowl prospects.
21. West Virginia (8-3): A 21-20 Backyard Brawl victory over Pittsburgh keeps the Mountaineers in the Big East and BCS hunt, if they beat South Florida on Thursday.
22. Clemson (9-3): Three losses in four games have the Tigers reeling entering rematch with Virginia Tech.
23. Penn State (9-3): Do bowls consider the Nittany Lions toxic?
24. Notre Dame (8-4): The Irish’s faint BCS hopes vanished at Stanford.
25. Texas (7-4): Classic end to a classic rivalry with Justin Tucker’s final-play field goal giving the Longhorns a 27-25 victory at Texas A&M.
In: West Virginia, Texas.
Out: Virginia, Georgia Tech.
I can be reached at 247-4636 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me at twitter.com/DavidTeelatDPCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun