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Virginia Tech a darkhorse for national title

Virginia Tech, not the Seminoles or Tigers, could work its way into the national title picture in 2012.

While Florida State and Clemson grab the lion’s share of national attention for preseason ACC football, lurking behind the scenes will be the league’s most consistent and best program of the past decade.


It’s  possible that Virginia Tech, not the Seminoles or Tigers, could work its way into the national title picture in 2012.


The Hokies are loaded with Logan Thomas returning at quarterback and eight starters back on defense. Special teams may return to the form of several years ago when Beamer Ball was a constant in the Hokies’ repertoire.


Tailback has become an increasingly important position in Virginia Tech’s offense over the last decade, and while David Wilson is now in the NFL, coach Frank Beamer is confident he has a couple of players ready to step in.


“I think (redshirt freshman) Michael (Holmes) has got a good future,” Beamer said. “I think he had a good spring practice. He’s a big guy (5-foot-11, 208 pounds), and I think he’s faster than some people would think. I think he gives us something.


“And then I think (redshirt senior) Martin Scales (5-11, 226), he’s a tough guy that runs north-south, and I like what he’s all about. And then (true freshman) J.C. Coleman (5-7, 176) got in there and got some time.”


Beamer trusts the staff will identify the order quickly enough in August to get everyone ready for the opener at home against Georgia Tech on Labor Day night.


The schedule is also conducive to a run.


The Hokies visit Pittsburgh and play Cincinnati at FedEx Field, home of the Washington Redskins, as well as hosting Austin Peay and Bowling Green. In the ACC, they get the ACC’s two other teams that are certain to start the season in the national rankings, traveling to Clemson on Oct. 20 and hosting FSU on Thursday night, Nov. 8, a week after visiting Miami on a Thursday.


So Tech will get plenty of national attention late in the season playing crucial games. It may have to beat FSU twice to position itself for a national title shot, which is really the only way it will build up its BCS ranking.


Virginia Tech has been knocking on the door of a national title or at least near the front porch for the last 17 years. The Hokies have been ranked in the final Associated Press poll in 13 of the last 14 seasons, six times finishing among the top 10.


However, beginning with the Sugar Bowl in 1995, the Hokies have played in eight major bowls, winning just twice, and averaged just 17.2 points in five BCS bowls dating back to 2005.


Of course, most folks recall Stanford’s 40-12 bludgeoning of the Hokies two years ago in the Orange Bowl and that Tech figured out a way to lose to Michigan in the Sugar Bowl several months ago despite doubling up the Wolverines in total yards.


Tech has been good enough to lose big games over the years, but maybe that trend will soon end.


Beamer just may be the best major coach to never win a national title. In 25 years in Blacksburg, his teams are 209-98-2. He is worthy of winning a national championship, and maybe this season, as most ACC eyes will be elsewhere in September, the Hokies can quietly position themselves for that special season it has chased for nearly two decades.