Hokies upend Southern California's Reggie Bush in 2004 opener. (August 28, 2013)
The Hurricanes defeated five top-25 teams, including Syracuse 59-0 and Washington 65-7 in consecutive outings. Their defense allowed only 13 touchdowns and scored eight. The average margin of victory was 32.9 points, and Nebraska was no match in the BCS title game, falling 37-14.
How Hokies fared: With a 20-3 halftime lead, top-ranked Miami appeared headed for another rout at No. 14 Virginia Tech in December. But two short Jarrett Ferguson touchdown runs and a special teams score — Eric Green blocked a punt, which Brandon Manning returned for a TD — drew the Hokies within 26-24 midway through the fourth quarter.
Beamer elected to go for two, but sophomore Ernest Wilford, who left Tech as the school’s career receptions leader, dropped Grant Noel’s pass.
After a Miami three-and-out, Tech took over at the Hurricanes’ 49 with 5:05 remaining. But Reed’s second interception of the game, the fourth thrown by Noel in only 16 attempts, ended the threat.
* 2004 Southern California (13-0): The Trojans’ national title was vacated because of Reggie Bush’s NCAA issues, but there’s no erasing their excellence. The wire-to-wire No. 1s had an embarrassment of riches at the skill positions with Heisman quarterback Matt Leinart, running backs Bush and LenDale White, and receivers Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith.
USC’s regular-season schedule was comparably tame — California and Arizona State, both at home, were the only top-25 opponents — but in the national title game the Trojans embarrassed Oklahoma 55-19.
How the Hokies fared: Leading 10-7 midway through the third quarter at FedEx Field, unranked Tech drove to a first down at USC’s 44. Bryan Randall then connected with Josh Hyman for 32 yards along the Hokies’ sideline, only to have the completion overturned by an offensive interference flag on Hyman.
Beamer went nuts and writes in his soon-to-be-released autobiography that it’s among the worst calls he’s ever seen.
Tech was forced to punt, and two plays later Leinart hit Bush for a 53-yard touchdown to give the Trojans a 14-10 lead. USC won, 24-13.
I saw all four of these teams in person and would rank Miami 2001 the best, followed by USC ’04, FSU ’99 and Miami ’87.
If Alabama ’13 can crack that group, wow.
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