Two sports staff writers, Alex Koma and Alyssa Bedrosian, gave their thoughts on the Hokies' No. 12 ranking in the first installation of the BCS standings.
The BCS ranking system has always been an easy target for criticism. The strange combination of human polls and computer analysis that makes up the BCS rankings remains one of the more mystifying algorithms in sports.
However, the first BCS standings of the year were announced last Sunday, and the Hokies were ranked No. 12 in the nation. All of a sudden, most Virginia Tech fans probably felt pretty good about how the rankings are compiled.
As validating as this ranking might be for Hokie fans, it doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense.
The team has undoubtedly looked impressive at times, with the most recent road victory over Wake Forest leaving a distinct impression on voters. Accordingly, they’ve been ranked No. 16 in the AP poll, and No. 14 in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll. These rankings seem reasonable given how the team has looked while recovering from the horrific Clemson loss, and indicate that the team is climbing back toward elite status.
Meanwhile, the BCS rates the Hokies above Nebraska, South Carolina, West Virginia and Michigan State, which are all schools that are ranked above the team in at least one poll.
None of these teams are national title contenders, but they all have substantial resumes that appear to be more impressive than Tech’s. Considering the importance that many of the computer rankings place on strength of schedule, this difference in opponents is significant.
South Carolina hasn’t played the same kind of intense SEC schedule that most members of the conference have, but the Gamecocks have gone on the road to beat Georgia and Mississippi State, while their lone loss was to Auburn in a very competitive game.
Michigan State looked particularly good these last two weeks, as it handed Michigan its first loss and went on the road to best the Buckeyes.
When compared to these schools, the Hokies don’t have nearly as impressive of a resume.
The first four games of the season may have been a “murderer’s row” for a team in Conference USA, but for a BCS contender, they’re even weaker than normal.
The Hokies’ best wins have undoubtedly come these last two weeks against Miami and Wake Forest, but each of those games forced the team to come from behind to win.
Similarly, when Tech faced off against Clemson for its best test of the year, the Hokies looked listless and were completely blown out.
If anything, it would make sense that the voters of the polls would overreact to the Hokies’ recent strong play rather than the computers.
Nevertheless, the machines love Tech, as the computer rankings average out to put the Hokies at 10th overall. The solid win percentages of their weak non-conference opponents have surely played a large role this decision, and as much as it may be nice to see, it needs to be questioned.
If the team can pull off wins in Atlanta against Georgia Tech and on Thursday night against North Carolina, then it should be viewed as deserving of such a lofty rating.
Until then, it’s important to realize that the Hokies probably haven’t earned this 12th spot in the standings. Fans should enjoy it while it lasts at least, but shouldn’t be surprised if it changes — sooner rather than later.