It seems that every week some new statistical bogeyman emerges for the Virginia Tech football team to overcome.
Week one, it was opening losses against high-profile opponents. Week two, it was the notorious short week turnaround with a supposed cupcake at the end, which was deja vu from the 2010 season courtesy of Boise State and JMU. Week three, it was Tech’s losing streak to Pittsburgh, who has had the Hokies’ number for the past four meetings now.
But there was another quiet streak at Pittsburgh that the Hokies were looking to break — four consecutive losses in NFL stadiums dating back to the 2011 Orange Bowl.
The Hokies have a 10-20 record under Head Coach Frank Beamer at current NFL stadiums and an 0-2 record at FedEx Field, which is where Tech will face the Cincinnati Bearcats this Saturday. Coach Beamer thinks the current four-game skid at NFL sites is nothing more than a coincidence.
“I don’t think NFL stadiums have anything to do with whether we win or lose,” Beamer said.
Cornerback Antone Exum echoed the head coaches’ sentiments.
“I think it’s just a coincidence,” Exum said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to end that losing streak here.”
While the coaches and players seem to be following the rule of Occam’s Razor and choosing the simplest of explanations, there are those who feel that there is some reasoning behind Tech’s performance in NFL stadiums.
The most probable of reasons for all those losses is the level of competition that the Hokies face when playing in pro stadiums. One look at the list of pro stadium opponents and you can see that there are no push-overs.
Rewind chronologically from the present and there is the recent loss to Pittsburgh at Heinz Stadium; then moving back into last season, there was the Sugar Bowl loss to Michigan at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, then the loss to Clemson in the ACC Championship game at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, and further back, the previous season’s Orange Bowl loss to Stanford in Miami’s Sun Life Stadium. Finally, jump to the last loss at FedEx Field and there’s the Boise State Broncos.
However, the competition explanation seems to fall along similar lines as the coincidence explanation in its simplicity; it removes the stadium from the equation and poses that the losing streak would still stand regardless of the location. However, many would beg to differ as the Hokies have always boasted an impressive winning record at home and just recently had their nation’s-best true-road-game winning streak snapped at 13 with the Pittsburgh loss.
Center Andrew Miller doesn’t worry himself with stadium statistics.
“I had no clue about [the streak],” said Miller. “I don’t look into things like that. It doesn’t matter which field I’m on; it could be on a high school field and I’d play the same.”
Split end Dyrell Roberts didn’t know about the streak either and can’t say for sure that NFL stadiums have anything to do with the losing streak, but figures that they might as well break it against Cincinnati this weekend.
“To be honest I don’t really know,” Roberts said. “That’s the first time I had really heard of it. I haven’t really had a chance to play in that many NFL stadiums. That sounds about right though. I mean, right now we really want to change that record around and hopefully go up there Saturday and be able to add a win in that category.”
While the players and coaches don’t think the physical location or structure of NFL stadiums has anything to do with winning or losing, they do acknowledge the fans who come to fill them and the noise levels that may or may not be there.
Quarterback Logan Thomas is electrified by large crowds, home or away.