In this post, I'll touch on a few games of interest played by other teams that could affect the remainder of the Hokies' regular season as well as the post-season. I'll describe what they mean to the Hokies and comment on the impacts of either outcome.
Oklahoma (20) VS. Texas (3)
12:00 p.m. EDT
Cotton Bowl, Dallas, TX
Texas holds the number three spot in both the AP and USA Today polls. Virginia Tech holding the number four spot need somebody on the Longhorns' schedule to hand them a defeat to move up to number three. Florida and Alabama, who hold number one and two respectively, will have to play each other in SEC conference championship if they hold on to those rankings for the remainder of the regular season. Texas' schedule thus far has not included any ranked opponents, and only the Red Raiders of Texas Tech gave them a good fight. The Longhorns' season gets tougher starting Saturday against the Oklahoma Sooners, whom Miami (FL) defeated to bolster Virginia Tech's strength of schedule. Thank you Miami! The Texas' squad vividly remembers last season all too well when a final pass to Michael Crabtree ultimately cost them their bid to the National Championship Game. They remember this in light of defeating the Sooners last season, who ended up playing for the national title. If Texas wins, they've taken a big step with a few more left to go before having a substantial claim to the national title. Should they lose, Boise State, USC, Ohio State, and of course Virginia Tech should pass them in the rankings. The official BCS standings doesn't factor the polls, but they usually don't differ too greatly from them either. Hokie fans should pull for Oklahoma to create an upset.
USC (6) VS. Notre Dame (25)
3:30 p.m. EDT
Notre Dame Stadium, Notre Dame, IN
Notre Dame has played a season thus far only five points shy of not having a loss. They have lost to the USC Trojans in their last seven contests. The Fighting Irish are trying to turn their program around from a couple of lackluster seasons. An upset against USC would give their program exactly what it needs to put them back on the map as a well respected team. USC, only four points shy of having a no loss season themselves, doesn't have the same strength of schedule as the Hokies, but should both teams win the remainder of their pre-bowl season games, USC stands a chance, although not of overwhelming odds, to jump Virginia Tech in the BCS standings. The BCS has done stranger things. An upset, however, would put some comfortable distance between the Hokies and Trojans in the rankings, assuming only one Virginia Tech loss on the season.
South Carolina (22) VS. Alabama (2)
7:45 p.m. EDT
Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, AL
This game's outcome holds significance for the Hokies in the way of strength of schedule. Alabama currently has a higher ranking and would quite possibly fall below Virginia Tech, at least initially, with a loss; however, they would eventually jump the Hokies in the BCS standings under the scenario of both teams finishing with one loss seasons. Since the Crimson Tide defeated the Hokies this season, they would deservedly earn the better bowl bid. Hokie fans should have their hopes on a Crimson Tide victory.
Now, you may think to yourself, "Where's the Ice? has gone insane! Why would a Hokie fan not want number two to lose when the Hokies hold number four in the rankings?" Well, I pose the following to explain.
Should Alabama win the rest of their regular season but lose to Florida in the SEC championship, a one-loss Virginia Tech would have a very strong claim to play for the national title. If the Crimson tide loses that game with a prior loss, that claim for the Hokies loses steam. Turning that around, if Alabama has a no loss season and defeats Florida, a one loss Hokie squad still has a strong claim to play for the national title against Alabama for a rematch. Could you imagine a more exciting scenario for Hokie fans?!
Contending for the invitation to play in the National Championship Game in the BCS not only depends on your wins, but also upon the wins of your opponents. Without losses later in the season, Texas, USC, and Ohio State could all finish with the same record as a one-loss Hokie squad, or even better in the case of Texas. At that point, who plays best on the field can take a back seat to which program directors and coaches play better BCS politics. If you don't believe that, look no further than last year when Oklahoma received the bid to play in the national championship instead of Texas who defeated Oklahoma and had only one loss due to a last minute play.