The Boise State football program has risen to prominence since their miracle BCS busting game against Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl. Since then, they have posted a 36-4 record. Unfortunately their lack of a BCS conference has hindered them from scheduling out of conference games to prove their worth. That’s where Virginia Tech comes in.
The Hokies have agreed to play the Broncos at a “neutral” site at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, while most top schools in BCS conferences choose to schedule cupcake teams that can run all over. Is this a single case of Virginia Tech going out on a limb to schedule a tough out of conference opponent?
Not at all.
The polytechnical school has a history of scheduling the best from other conferences as well. Just last year, the Hokies (ranked #7 at the time) faced #5 Alabama at the Georgia Dome. And while they lost to the eventual National Champions 34-24, it shows the willingness of a high profile football program to play the best teams, even if they are not in the ACC.
Virginia Tech doesn’t mind traveling for their games. They’ve played out of conference games against teams in the Big East, Pac-10, SEC, and Big 12 since they joined the ACC. Not many other school can say that. Playing schools from other conferences also tends to help the national profile of a quality school nestled in the Appalachian Mountains.
The recent home-and-home with Nebraska is another example of what Virginia Tech does so well in their scheduling. Nebraska fell on some tough times in 2007 when Bill Callahan nearly destroyed the program, but after the hiring of Bo Pelini, Nebraska was back on track. Heading to Lincoln for a game is no easy task. It is one of the most intimidated and sacred stadiums in college football. Virginia Tech doesn’t mind though, considering Lane Stadium can be just as fierce. By the time the Huskers visited Blacksburg last fall for the second leg of their agreement, Nebraska was ranked #19 in the country with a kid named Ndamukong Suh. Virginia Tech won both games against Nebraska.
It goes further back too. Tech visited then #2 LSU in Baton Rouge in 2007, West Virginia in Morgantown in 2005 and played #1 USC at FedEx Field in 2004. What all these games mean is that Virginia Tech does not mind bucking the norm of scheduling easy wins, but would rather gain respect by playing the best teams in the country.
The game this fall vs Boise State is shaping up to be a colossal match-up during the opening week of college football. It’s a big game for both programs, but more so for college football as a whole. It’s rare to see such talented teams square off in big non-conference games and it’s something that gains the Hokies a lot of respect.
We’ll have more coverage on this game as it nears because let’s be honest, this realignment thing is getting to be too much.