Va. Tech: new kids on the block

Hokies hoping to take New Orleans by storm

January 01, 2000|By PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER

NEW ORLEANS -- Every few moments yesterday morning, one or two Virginia Tech subs walked up to the national championship trophy that Nokia Sugar Bowl officials had perched at the Superdome's 50-yard line and with a combination of self-consciousness and youthful excitement posed alongside it.

Elsewhere in the eerily quiet downtown stadium, better-known Tech players such as quarterback Michael Vick were routinely answering questions from a surprisingly small Media Day contingent, one the Tech party easily outnumbered.

Suddenly, bored heads lifted as, from beyond the dome, came the wail of police sirens. A phalanx of motorcycle cops had turned onto Poydras Street, a noisy escort for the three garishly colored, horn-honking buses that carried the Florida State contingent to the event.

Having upstaged their Sugar Bowl competitors, the Seminoles waited for Tech's interview time to expire. Then they walked onto the same field, now far more crowded with reporters, and pointedly ignored the same crystal trophy.

In a way, the New Year's Eve Superdome scene told the story of Tuesday's Sugar Bowl, when the No. 1 Seminoles and No. 2 Hokies will meet for the right to win that trophy.

Florida State, playing in its second straight Bowl Championship Series title game and its fourth Sugar Bowl in six years, is the flashy veteran, better-known, better-tested.

Virginia Tech, occupying unknown territory, is the wide-eyed rookie.

"We've been to New Orleans before, played for the national title before," Seminoles running back Travis Minor said. "For them, it's all new -- the city, the media questions, the hype."

So while Florida State's Peter Warrick casually answered questions yesterday about his legal troubles, Tech's Corey Moore, who angrily stormed out of an interview earlier this week, avoided reporters.

"Corey is in a frame of mind where he is getting ready to play Florida State," explained Hokies coach Frank Beamer.

"I guess someone asked him the same question too many times. But I respect Corey as much as any player I've had. He's smart, and he cares about this team."

And while everyone naturally assumes that Florida State, never having finished out of the top five in the past 14 years, belongs here, Tech players and coaches continually have had to defend their much-maligned schedule.

"We can't do anything about that," Vick said. "We played the teams it said we had to play, and we beat them all."

Said linebacker Jamel Smith: "It really doesn't make a difference, but if I remember, Florida State only beat Miami by 10 points. We beat them, 43-10."

That's what happens when a team that lost at home to Temple 14 months ago finds itself in a national championship game.

"We know we've got to prove ourselves here," Beamer said. "Everybody knows Florida State is for real. But us, well, there are people who don't believe it yet. The guys on this team believe in themselves, though."

It was, in fact, the shocking 28-24 loss to Temple, a 35-point underdog, in October 1998 that helped Tech players reach this point.

"I remember the mood in our locker room after the Temple game," wide receiver Andre Davis said. "We were all so depressed. I think we knew that on that day we were the laughingstock of college football."

Said Beamer: "Someone said there were 12 teams in the country that if they'd played our schedule could have gone undefeated. And I said, `Yeah, I agree with that.' But I don't think those 12 teams would have gone undefeated. Because there are upsets every Saturday. The Temple experience really helped us in realizing that."

Sugar Bowl

No. 1 Florida State (11-0) vs. No. 2 Virginia Tech (11-0)

Site: Superdome, New Orleans

When: Tuesday, 8 p.m.

TV: Chs. 2, 7

Line: Florida State by 5 1/2

No. 1 vs. No. 2

Meetings between the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked teams in the Associated Press college football poll (the No. 1 team is 19-11-2):

Oct. 9, 1943: No. 1 Notre Dame 35, No. 2 Michigan 12

Nov. 20, 1943: No. 1 Notre Dame 14, No. 2 Iowa Pre-Flight 13

Dec. 2, 1944: No. 1 Army 23, No. 2 Navy 7

Nov. 10, 1945: No. 1 Army 48, No. 2 Notre Dame 0

Dec. 1, 1945: No. 1 Army 32, No. 2 Navy 13

Nov. 9, 1946: No. 1 Army 0, No. 2 Notre Dame 0

Jan. 1, 1963: No. 1 Southern Cal 42, No. 2 Wisconsin 37 (Rose Bowl)

Oct. 12, 1963: No. 2 Texas 28, No. 1 Oklahoma 7

Jan. 1, 1964: No. 1 Texas 28, No. 2 Navy 6 (Cotton Bowl)

Nov. 19, 1966: No. 1 Notre Dame 10, No. 2 Michigan State 10

Sept. 28, 1968: No. 1 Purdue 37, No. 2 Notre Dame 22

Jan. 1, 1969: No. 1 Ohio State 27, No. 2 Southern Cal 16 (Rose Bowl)

Dec. 6, 1969: No. 1 Texas 15, No. 2 Arkansas 14

Nov. 25, 1971: No. 1 Nebraska 35, No. 2 Oklahoma 31

Jan. 1, 1972: No. 1 Nebraska 38, No. 2 Alabama 6 (Orange Bowl)

Jan. 1, 1979: No. 2 Alabama 14, No. 1 Penn State 7 (Sugar Bowl)

Sept. 26, 1981: No. 1 Southern Cal 28, No. 2 Oklahoma 24

Jan. 1, 1983: No. 2 Penn State 27, No. 1 Georgia 23 (Sugar Bowl)

Oct. 19, 1985: No. 1 Iowa 12, No. 2 Michigan 10

Sept. 27, 1986: No. 2 Miami 28, No. 1 Oklahoma 16

Jan. 2, 1987: No. 2 Penn State 14, No. 1 Miami 10 (Fiesta Bowl)

Nov. 21, 1987: No. 2 Oklahoma 17, No. 1 Nebraska 7

Jan. 1, 1988: No. 2 Miami 20, No. 1 Oklahoma 14 (Orange Bowl)

Nov. 26, 1988: No. 1 Notre Dame 27, No. 2 Southern Cal 10

Sept. 16, 1989: No. 1 Notre Dame 24, No. 2 Michigan 19

Nov. 16, 1991: No. 2 Miami 17, No. 1 Florida State 16

Jan. 1, 1993: No. 2 Alabama 34, No. 1 Miami 13 (Sugar Bowl)

Nov. 13, 1993: No. 2 Notre Dame 31, No. 1 Florida State 24

Jan. 1, 1994: No. 1 Florida State 18, No. 2 Nebraska 16 (Orange Bowl)

Jan. 2, 1996: No. 1 Nebraska 62, No. 2 Florida 24 (Fiesta Bowl)

Nov. 30, 1996: No. 2 Florida State 24, No. 1 Florida 21

Jan. 4, 1999: No. 1 Tennessee 23, No. 2 Florida State 16 (Fiesta Bowl)

Jan. 4, 2000: No. 1 Florida State vs. No. 2 Virginia Tech (Sugar Bowl)

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