Virginia Tech’s season opener against Alabama is less than a day away. The Hokies come into the season unranked against the two-time defending national champions, who head coach Frank Beamer called the best team he has faced in his 25 years at Virginia Tech. They are 0-7 all-time against number 1 opponents, their last meeting coming in 2004 against USC. Here are some final thoughts before tomorrow’s Chick-fil-A kickoff game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
1) The end or just the beginning?
The Alabama game is not a do-or-die scenario. This is the first game of the season, and the Hokies will have at least 11 more to follow. Everyone knows that losing a game early in the season is much better than losing a game late.
Virginia Tech will still be able to have a great season, even if they drop the game against Alabama. No one is really expecting them to win in Atlanta, and the fact of the matter is that they are capable of winning all of their conference games afterwards. In 2004 the Hokies lost to Number 1 USC, and went on to win the ACC Championship and face Auburn in the Sugar Bowl. It would be nice to start the season with a win, but they will have plenty of games to salvage their season.
2) Crazier things have happened
I could go through all the crazy upsets that have happened in NCAA Football history but I will just name a couple. Hokie fans will remember losing to JMU just three years ago, and who could forget Appalachian State upsetting Michigan in their own house?
While one could argue that this Alabama team is better than 2010 Virginia Tech and 2007 Michigan, the talent disparity between Alabama and Virginia Tech this year is probably not as wide as between those teams that dropped the ball in years past. In other words, if the Hokies manage to win tomorrow, it will not be the greatest upset of all time.
The bottom line is that upsets do happen, and while by their very nature one is unlikely to happen on Saturday, never underestimate what a good coach and a senior quarterback can accomplish.
3) The replacements
If this game gets ugly, Twitter and other social media sites will have a field day bashing Logan Thomas, Frank Beamer, and the Virginia Tech football program. No matter what happens, it’s important to remember that Virginia Tech is not playing at their full strength, with some of their best players out for tomorrow.
Senior cornerback Antone Exum is out for at least another month or so with a torn ACL, forcing the coaches to play a platoon of two true freshmen in his place. Starting tailback JC Coleman is listed as questionable for tomorrow, so even if he does play, he will probably not be at full strength, and depth at that position is already weak. Starting tight end Ryan Malleck is out for the season with a shoulder injury, as well as starting whip linebacker Ronny Vandyke. The Hokies would have come into the game as huge underdogs before all these injuries, so now the challenge is now that much greater.
4) What if Virginia Tech loses?
Well, there are two ways Virginia Tech can lose: by a lot or by a little. If they lose by a lot, it will be expected, Alabama will remain #1, and the talking heads will continue to discuss their upcoming game in College Station. Virginia Tech will not be mentioned again until they face UNC, and everyone will predict them to lose their first ACC game, and have another mediocre season as a mid-level team in a weak Atlantic Coast Conference. If they only lose by a few points, say maybe by a field goal and a touchdown, Alabama will still remain #1, but the Hokies might earn a little respect. They will gain some favor as potential Coastal Division champions, and be expected to perform well in their big games against Georgia Tech, UNC, and Miami. Losing by a small margin will be favorable for the Hokies.
5) What if Virginia Tech wins?
If Virginia Tech wins, they will shake up the BCS to its core. The ‘Bama Haters will rave about how overrated the SEC is, while experts will say they overlooked the Hokies in preparation for their “real” opener against the Aggies. Virginia Tech will be ranked in the top 20, Alabama will remain in the top-10, and the expectations for Virginia Tech will skyrocket. Virginia Tech will walk away with their greatest win in school history, and Alabama will be handed their first loss against a non-SEC opponent since 2008.