Our non-conference scheduling philosophy, as stated by Jim Weaver sometime last fall on Tech Talk Live, and as regurgitated by my memory is to include a BCS school, two non-AQ schools and a I-AA school. It makes a lot of sense to me. That schedule serves as preparation for conference play, is respected by voters and computers and is winnable. Although, Tech hasn't followed that blueprint the last two seasons, and won't again in 2011.
Whereas the last two seasons deviated from the plan in order to schedule tougher opponents, Alabama, Nebraska and Boise State, the 2011 non-conference slate is by the Hokies' own standards embarrassingly weak. My guess, Beamer and Weaver saw the writing on the wall long ago and didn't want to toss Logan Thomas to the wolves in his first year as starter. There is no BCS opponent and East Carolina, Arkansas State and Marshall all finished under .500 in 2010. This has to be the year Tech puts their non-conference struggles behind them. Right? I sure-as-shit hope so, but this is Virginia Tech Football. Expect the unexpected.
Have any of these teams knocked off a "big boy" school before?
Appalachian State doesn't have a reputation for beating I-A teams, just a "team". The perennial I-AA powerhouse came close to beating ECU in 2009, 24-29, but have been whooped up on by the likes of LSU, Florida, Kansas, Hawaii and Wyoming in the last decade. All of those losses take a backseat to the Mountaineers upset of the fifth-ranked Michigan Wolverines.
In 2007 Appalachian State blocked a 37-yard Michigan field goal attempt as time expired to preserve a 34-32 victory in the Big House.
That was hot, Hot, HOT!
In the past five seasons ECU is 6 and 15 (29%) against BCS schools. Their biggest upsets happened in 2008 when the Pirates beat Virginia Tech and West Virginia in back-to-back weeks.
Since 2006 Arkansas State has only a single BCS win, 18-14 at Texas A&M in '08, to eleven losses. There's no column in the record for close losses, but Arkansas State made games against Iowa, Louisville and Indiana interesting.
- In 2009 Arkansas State drove 68 yards in 17 plays, 7 minutes 59 seconds to close the gap 21-24 against the Hawkeyes. However, they left only 2:01 on the clock and got the ball back with only 10 seconds left.
- In 2009 the Red Wolves were down 13-21 with 3:03 left against Louisville. They drove down to the Louisville 14-yard-line before turning the ball over on downs.
- In 2010 Arkansas State pulled within two, 34-36, on their final drive against Indiana. They failed recovering an onside kick with 49 seconds remaining.
Tech is 8-2 all-time against Marshall, last losing in 1940. Marshall hasn't beat a BCS team in the last five years, going 0-13. However, under new coach Doc Holliday they almost pulled an upset over rival West Virginia last season. The Herd held a 21-6 lead with less than 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter, before fumbling and bumbling their way to an overtime loss.
It goes without saying that top tier college football teams can no longer win games by just showing up and flaunting the name on their jersey. Recently, all four of these teams have shown they're capable of pulling off upsets. However, the Hokies are more talented, deep and would have to be at their worst, opponents at their best, for it to happen.