Hokies' loss highlights horrid day for ACC
On a Saturday filled with marquee matchups, the Atlantic Coast Conference's best got beat up all over. It looked more like the Atlantic Toast Conference.
There was No. 13 Virginia Tech losing at home, 21-16, to James Madison of the Football Championship Subdivision, coach Frank Beamer's first loss in 24 years to a lower-tier team.
''It's early in the season,'' a clearly stunned Beamer said after his mistake-prone team's second loss in a week. ''We haven't played in an ACC game and you work to get better.''
Turns out, Frank, it might not take all that much to rule the ACC this year. Every ranked team in the conference lost Saturday.
At the Horseshoe in Columbus, Ohio, No. 2 Ohio State intercepted Miami's Jacory Harris four times and turned their highly anticipated game into a walk for the Buckeyes, 36-24 over 12th-ranked Miami.
Florida State had an even harder time with No. 10 Oklahoma. The No. 17 Seminoles allowed touchdowns the first four times the Sooners had the ball in what became a 47-17 blowout.
And the No. 15 Yellow Jackets of Georgia Tech traveled to Kansas, a team coming off a loss to North Dakota State, and the Jayhawks put their bad loss behind them, winning 28-25.
Virginia had a chance to take some of the sting out of the day for the ACC, but the Cavaliers fell short against No. 16 USC, 17-14.
But the big one came at Lane Stadium, where the Hokies had won 32 home games in a row against non-league competition, and had not lost to a lower-tier team since Richmond in 1985.
Granted, the Hokies had played just Monday night, a 33-30 loss to No. 3 Boise State in Landover, Md., and a game the Hokies led until a Broncos touchdown with 1:09 remaining. This latest setback was still stunning, though.
Virginia's Tech line had trouble making holes for its tailbacks to get through, and it was stopped by the Dukes on two possessions after James Madison went ahead. One stop came when Tyrod Taylor's fourth down pass was batted away, the other when Darren Evans fumbled.
Nearly 5 1/2 minutes remained after the turnover, but James Madison ran out the clock.
''I'm ready to get back to practice because I hate this feeling,'' said linebacker Bruce Taylor, who had a costly personal foul and missed a critical tackle. ''I hate this feeling.''
Surely, the mood is the same at Miami, Florida State and Georgia Tech.
''We just need to go back to the drawing boards,'' Miami coach Randy Shannon said.
In the Hurricane's loss, Harris drove his team to the Ohio State 6 in the second half and then passed over the middle. Instead of finding his own man, the ball was caught by beefy Buckeyes defensive end Cameron Heyward, who somehow rumbled 80 yards before being pulled down.
''I was shocked how far he got,'' Buckeyes coach Jim Tressel said.
Tressel said his defense deserved a lot of credit for slowing the speedy 'Canes.
''They've got some good guys, but our defense was smacking them,'' he said.
Oklahoma made its rematch of the 2001 Orange Bowl with the Seminoles a laugher as Landry Jones was the runaway winner of his head-to-head battle with Heisman-hyped Christian Ponder.
Jones hurt the Seminoles' defense repeatedly with short, swing passes and screens near the line of scrimmage, at one point completing 14 straight attempts. The streak began during the Sooners' opening drive and, before it ended, the Sooner were leading 27-7.
A week after the Jimbo Fisher Era began with an old school 59-6 victory against Samford for FSU, it was Oklahoma's turn to roll. Jones passed for 321 yards by halftime - the second-most in Sooners history. Only North Texas, which allowed 350 to Sam Bradford in 2007, has ever been torched worse.
In Lawrence, Kan., the two-TD underdog Jayhawks broke an eight-game skid and got their biggest victory since 2008, when they beat the Hokies 24-21 in the Orange Bowl.
Georgia Tech had a chance on fourth-and-3 in the final minutes, but a false start penalty pushed it back 5 yards and Joshua Nesbitt missed on a fourth-down pass.
''There's no excuse. We just got beat,'' Yellow Jackets coach Paul Johnson said. ''They played better than we did. There's no magic thing. I ain't got nothing magic I can say, like abracadabra-kazaam (and) it's going to be fixed. You gotta practice and play better.''
Inside linebacker Kyle Jackson agreed and, like Beamer, saw a silver lining.
''Most definitely it's a wake-up call,'' he said. ''The good thing is it wasn't a conference game, so we got our first conference game next week and we're looking to step it up.''
Around the ACC, that sounds like a good goal for most everyone.