It was on our mind the second the season schedule was announced, even spring ball we were thinking hard about it, like a looming shadow over Lane Stadium that thunders and drops a massive downpour upon the denizens of Blacksburg...Ohio State.
Since the end of last season we've constantly thought about this game. What it could mean for VT, the desire to score a big "W" against the elite. Hoping, wishing, dreaming that somehow someway that the Hokies could storm the Horseshoe and come out victors. But of course fans live with a constant pessimism that has surrounded the program for the longest time. The stigma that has so vastly weighed the program down for so long. Tech's failures against the other members of the Power 5(Big Ten, Big 12, PAC-12, and of course the SEC). Coach Beamer, for all his accomplishments cannot escape this stigma, and try as he might, the fans are getting restless with him for this lack of success. Frank would be the first to point out that he's won 10 games for how many straight seasons and won four ACC titles. That's well and good but VT fans would be the first to tell you that their favorite moments aren't wins against ECU, or Western Michgian, or Marshall, or Southern Miss. VT fans remember wins against Tennessee, Nebraska, Texas, LSU,Texas A&M, Indiana or other schools with name value.
So most of you probably would like to know, how has VT stacked against the power five? When did they score a win against a BIG school last? Well hang tight with me as we look back at VT vs The Power five in the Frank Beamer Era.
I.) The Big 12: Record (5-3)
Teams played: Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Texas A&M, Kansas.
I thought it was only fitting that we start with the conference that Vt's had the most success against. Now I know, Texas A&M and Nebraska are members of a different conferences now, but when VT played them, they were members of the Big 12.
1) Texas: (1-0)
Dec. 31 1995. W 28-10 (Sugar Bowl)
VT only played Texas once but it was a good one. After winning the Big East for the first time. Jim Druckenmiller lead the Hokies to the Sugar Bowl against Texas who won the Southwest Conference in it's final season of existence (The Big 12 was formed the following year. The Hokies came from behind at halftime to take the win 28-10 in one of the greatest wins in VT history with Bryan Stills electrifying the Sugar Bowl. This game was a showing of what VT could very well be on the national stage if they kept building.
2) Oklahoma: (0-1)
Sept 28, 1991. . L 27-17 @ OU
VT only played the Sooners once and that is when they were members of the Big Eight Conference. VT wasn't horrible in their trip to Norman. They played Reasonably well with Will Furrer running the offense, but in the end the turnover bug got them and OU got the win. Of course Barry Switzer was long gone before VT got a shot at OU.
3) Nebraska: (2-1)
Dec. 31, 1996. L 41-21(Orange Bowl)
Sept. 27, 2008. W 35-30 @Neb.
Sept. 19, 2009. W 16-15 @Lane Stadium
Beamer only played legend Tom Osborne's Nebraska once. That was in the 1995 Orange Bowl. VT kept it close in the first half but lost control in the second, as VT lost to a Nebraska team with future NFL stars Mike Minter and Ahman Green. The Hokies would get a chance for payback in 2008 in VT's first ever trip to Lincoln, the Cornhuskers was then coached by Bo Pelini. The Hokies won the back and forth contest that ended with Stephan Vigil forcing a fumble at the 44 and Dorian Porch recovering to save the victory. 2009 may have been the best game though, as Tyrod Taylor lead the fourth quarter comeback that still send shivers up VT fan's spines. Yes VT beat Nebraska twice, but even with the 2009 victory, it was still a somewhat watered down version of the once mighty Cornhuskers.
4) Texas A&M: (2-0)
Sept. 21, 2002. W 13-3 @TA&M
Sept. 18, 2003. W 35-19 @Lane Stadium
Any trip to College Station is tough, and VT's trip to A&M was a tough one. Even with the duo of Lee Suggs and Kevin Jones, A&M's defense and 12th man was all it was cracked up to be as VT was held to 13 points, however the VT defense did it's job and held the Aggies to 3 points to give VT a great win on the road. in the 2003 meeting, the Hokies had to adjust to the elements as Hurricane Isabel blew through Virginia that week. That didn't stop VT from taking care of business on Thursday night, as the Hokies won big against A&M 35-19 with a big game from Kevin Jones who rushed for 188 yards. Like Nebraska, this was at a time when The Aggies weren't the same program that they were in the past, but still, wins are wins right?
5) Kansas: (0-1)
Jan. 3, 2008. L 24-21 (Orange Bowl)
VT really blew this one. This game should have been a VT win, but VT got outplayed by a weaker Kansas team. Really VT would have won had they pounded the ball more with Brenden Ore, who was getting outrageous yards per carry, and the VT O-Line was bigger than the smaller Jayhawks. Yet Bryan Steinspring continued to try to pass almost every down and got both Sean Glennon and Tyrod Taylor sacked or hurried. I can still hear Mark Mangino screaming, "WE'RE NO LONGER A FOOTBALL SCHOOL!!!" Yes you are Mark. Where is Kansas now? Or more importantly, where are you now?
VT seemed to do well against teams from the Mid-West, but most wins were against programs hard on their luck to be honest. Still, VT won games they were supposed to win for the most part. Not something VT does as consistently as we'd like.
II) The Big Ten (1-1)
Teams Played: Indiana, Michigan
Only twice has VT played The SUPER TRADITIONAL Big Ten conference. Both games were in bowls and it's mixed results.
1) Indiana: (1-0)
Dec. 31, 1993: W 45-20(Independence Bowl)
This was the first Bowl win of the Frank Beamer era and it was a good one. A combination of Maurice Deshazo and Beamerball put together a clinic as VT dominated Indiana throughout the game. By the end of halftime it was clear what team was going to win as VT lead 28-13. By the time the smoke cleared, VT had won 45-20 in one of the most dominating bowl performances VT has ever had. This game is a reminder of what hungry teams look like, as years of struggling VT woes came out in that game. I think VT could use that same fire today.
2) Michigan: (0-1)
Jan. 3, 2012: L 23-20 OT(Sugar Bowl)
I can safely say that VT was cheated out of this game. The referee reviewed the Danny Coale touchdown catch that was ruled a touchdown on the field and it was overturned even though the tape clearly showed Coale had caught the ball. Word of advice folks, never leave a game against teams like Alabama, Michigan, Notre Dame or any other traditional power in the hands of officials, it will go against you almost every time. But that wasn't the only blunder of the game. Beamer and his offensive coaching staff made several mistakes in this game that ultimately cost them the win. The biggest one that comes to mind is the fake punt attempt...AT MIDFIELD. This one hurts because of who it was and how close we came to beating them. Ouch.
VT doesn't have a long history with the Big Ten, but they're about to get one. VT has scheduled series against Ohio State(2014,2015) Purdue(2015,2023) Wisconsin(2019,2020) Michigan(2020,2021) and Penn State(2022,2023). Needless to say they'll get to know the Big Ten very well in the coming years.
III) PAC-12 (0-4)
Teams Played: California, USC, Stanford, UCLA
All I can say is that VT's play against PAC-12 teams has been very disappointing. I don't know what it is about VT and the west coast, but what ever it is, it's got a funk on the Hokies. Look at their four meetings with the PAC-12, most games saw VT getting around 30-40 points scored on them. Where's the Beamerball D?
1) California: (0-1)
Dec. 26, 2003: L 52-49(Insight Bowl)
In their only meeting in the Insight Bowl, the Hokie "D" was not existant against the Golden Bears under Jeff Tedford, of course the QB for the Bears was a guy named Aaron Rodgers who just happened to throw for over 300 yards that night for 2 TD's. VT surrendered over 500 yards of total offense in one of the worst performances from Bud Foster's group. What hurt's the most is that the VT offense played good enough to win with Bryan Randall throwing for almost 400 yards and 4 TDs, yet Beamerball failed that night as Carter Worley missed 3 field goals that could have given VT a win. Twilight Zone game to say the least.
Aug. 28, 2004: L 24-13 @Fedex Field
Another heartbreaking loss. VT played very well for three quarters and was neck and neck with the top ranked Trojans, but a blown call by a referee who later admitted to making a bad call gave USC a chance to put the game away, as Matt Lienhart, Reggie Bush, and Lendale White closed the game in the fourth. Despite allowing Leinhart to pass for close to 300 yards, VT had held USC to 24 points. Pretty good considering who was all on that team, ashame things went the way it did. But still good teams find a way to beat bad calls, and VT fell flat after that call.
Jan. 3, 2004: L 40-12(Orange Bowl)
If you wanted to show why Beamer has been subpar against power conference teams, this game is a poster child for it. In this game it became clear in the second half just how behind the big boys VT was. Sure the Hokies kept it close in the first half and played well, but as things have often gone against elite schools, VT folded in the second half and it was so painfully clear how much better Stanford was, they out-muscled VT in the second half, running at will against VT defense and threw the offense around like ragdolls. I remember watching this game and noticing just how much tougher Stanford was. It was sad to watch VT's lack of tenacity in that game. It was a cold reminder of just how far VT was from competing for a title. Needless to say Jim Harbaugh and Andrew Luck had a lot to celebrate that night.
Dec. 31, 2013: L 42-12(Sun Bowl)
Another sad bowl showing. It was almost like watching a replay of the Stanford Orange Bowl. Almost the same formula. VT kept it close for the first half, and then UCLA's toughness wore down the Hokies. I remember watching as Jim Mora was on the sideline hyping up his players for the fourth quarter, while Beamer's group looked stoic and uninspired. Perhaps I missed it or something but to me I didn't see the fire to win that ball game that I so wanted to see. Now it didn't help that Logan Thomas got hurt in the second quarter, but injuries happen all the time and you have to play through them. This was also a reminder of how thin Beamer and the coaching staff had let the offense get in terms of talent and depth, as they weren't even able to play two tight ends for the game. Another sad reminder of VT's fall from the BCS elite.
The PAC-12 matches have been horrible, that's all that can be said. Horrible. The Bowl meetings seem to be like VT hadn't really prepared for those teams and got handed a whipping by a more conditioned, prepared team each time. If VT is to ever score a win against the PAC-12, they need to be ready physically and mentally.
IV) SEC (4-11-1)
Teams played: Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Auburn, LSU
And this is the probably the saddest record of all folks. Considering the many matchups we've played against the SEC and considering we recruit most of the same players they go after, it's hard to watch these teams come in and give VT such a hard time. But they do. They're the SEC, most other conferences struggle against them anyways, but it's a bad kind of struggle.
Oct. 31, 1987: L 14-7 @Lane Stadium
This game was a bit forgettable considering this was in the first year of the Frank Beamer era. At the time VT was 1-7 and struggling and at least put up a fight against the Wildcats. Holding Kentucky to 14 the whole game. Too bad they couldn't get into the endzone. But still Beamer was young in his time and playing with players that weren't his. It's usually tough for a guy heading into his first year and making adjustments. So Beamer get's a pass on this one.
2)South Carolina: (0-4-1)
Oct. 10, 1987: L 40-10 @SC
Oct. 8, 1988: L 26-24 @Lane Stadium
Sept. 9, 1989: T 17-17 @SC
Sept. 22, 1990 :L 35-24 @Lane Stadum
Sept. 21, 1991: L 28-21@SC
VT played several games in this series, but could never get a "W", shame considering that the Hokies got so close. In 1988 they got close to a big victory against an 8th ranked Gamecock team, but SC held VT off in the final quarter to escape with a 26-24 win to keep their undefeated season alive while dropping VT to 1-5. VT got close again in 1991 in their last meeting with the Gamecocks in Columbia, losing 28-21 on a touchdown by Terry Wilburn in the last 3 minutes. Beamer, to say the least was competitive for the most part in these games but in the end never could close. But then again, VT was still growing at the time so another pass for Beamer.
Dec. 30, 1994: L 45-23(Gator Bowl)
Dec. 31, 2009: W 37-14(Chick-Fil-A Bowl)
Tennessee, there's almost an unwritten rivalry between the Hokies and Volunteers. Both schools are basically within bus driving distance of each other, both recruit in a lot of the same areas, and of course, they're in rival conferences. Beamer's two games with the Volunteers are a mixed bunch. He lost to Tennessee in the Gator Bowl in 1994 to a UT squad lead by an impressive freshman by the name of Peyton Manning and coached by a guy named Phillip Fulmer, you know, just in case those names if they don't ring a bell. Needless to say it didn't go the Hokie's way, the score's a bit messed up on that one and doesn't reflect the beating VT really took in that game. The second go round, Beamer was facing the infamous Lane Kiffin who would soon leave for USC after one season with the Volunteers. VT was close with the Vols at Halftime but then took control in the second half against the bewildered UT team, scoring 16 unanswered points. On paper the UT win looks good, but let's be honest, it wasn't UT in their hayday. But once again, a wins a win.
Nov. 4, 1989: W 18-0 @Lane Stadium
OK, Vanderbilt is a lot like VT and had a history of struggling that finally got lifted by good coaching, but when these teams met in Lane Stadium in 1989, it wasn't exactly like a Michigan/Ohio State battle. Vanderbilt was Vanderbilt and came into the game 1-7 playing a VT team showing improvement under Frank Beamer at 4-3-1. It was a classic Frank Beamer game in which VT controlled the game on Defense, shutting out the Commodores while kicker Mickey Thomas hit 6 field goals. Not to impressive of a win but Vanderbilt is SEC and there's some credit there right? right?
Dec. 30, 2006: L 31-24(Chick-Fil-A Bowl)
You really want to talk VT letdown, this is it. This game was so much of a disappointment it's sad. VT had a 21-3 lead going into the half. They had this game, then came the second half and they just self destructed, punctuated by a onside kick call in the third by Mark Richt that surely had to get under Beamer's skin. Matthew Stafford looked like the pro he was meant to be and VT couldn't stop him. They never recovered in that game and lost 31-24. A majorly blown opportunity.
Jan. 3, 2005: L 16-13(Sugar Bowl)
Another what-could-have-been-game folks. VT played the 3rd ranked Tigers as good as you could play them, and still came up short. VT's offense was held to just 13 points, but what hurt the most in this game was the drop completion to Jessie Allen from Bryan Randall on 4th down in the endzone that may have given VT the edge. A win against that team would have been great, as that team included future first round picks Ronnie Brown, Carnell Williams, Jason Campbell, and Carlos Rodgers. Still stings to think about it.
Sept. 1, 2002: W 26-8 @Lane Stadium
Sept. 8, 2007: L 48-7 @LSU
The LSU series is pretty much what I would call a before and after situation. The first game was in 2002 when VT was still high off the "Vick" era and still competitive in the national title race. In 2002, before an expanded Lane Stadium, the Hokies dominated the reigning SEC champions lead by Nick Saban for four quarters, not allowing a score until the fourth, with Lee Suggs and Kevin Jones combining for 165 yard rushing and 3 TDs. But the story was different in 2007 when VT went to Baton Rouge when Les Miles was head coach. At this point, the fatal four was coaching the offense(Mike O'Cain, Kevin Sherman, Curt Newsome, Bryan Steinspring) and it showed as VT showed little imagination in their offensive scheme, Sean Glennon was knocked around by the LSU defense like a punching bag, and it took being down 24-0 before Frank Beamer decided to play dazzling freshman Tyrod Taylor to try to put some juice into the offense. But it was too little too late, as LSU took the win 48-7. Really a tale of two coaching staffs.
Dec. 29, 1998: W 38-7(Music City Bowl)
Sept. 5, 2009: L 34-24 @Georgia Dome
Aug: 31, 2013: L 35-10 @Georgia Dome
We all look at that 1998 win against the Crimson Tide and drool. To think VT beat Alabama. It's in the record books folks, but's it's not Bear Bryant or Nick Saban that coached the Tide in 1998, it was the infamous Mike Debois, who Tide fans still despise to this day for getting 'Bama busted for NCAA violations. That game, Beamerball was in full affect as VT's defense kept the Tide to 7 points while the VT run game ran for over 200 yards. That was a good win against a team that included Shawn Alexander, but sadly that's where the VT success against Alabama ends. VT played well in the first half of the 2009 meeting in the Georgia Dome, but as VT often has done in the past, they collapsed down the stretch and Mark Ingram and the Tide run game wore down VT's defense as the VT offense sputtered. Then there's last year, when VT's lack of offensive talent cost the Hokies despite a valiant effort from the defense for most of the game. Alabama is the national measuring stick when it comes to college football, and unfortunately for VT, the just didn't measure up.
considering how many close calls we had against the SEC, you'd think we'd be due a few. But if you look at VT against the SEC since 2000, you see that VT's record is 2-5, since 2005, when the Fatal Four came aboard, it's 1-3. Against top ten SEC teams since 2000 it's 0-4. That's my friends is sad. Considering how many shots that VT's had against them in the past, to only come away with two since 2000 and one since 2005 is just bad. I know that the SEC is good, but you watch and teams like Clemson, FSU, and Miami find ways of dealing with the SEC, so why can't VT?
THE BOTTOM LINE
It's unavoidable for a big name coach like Beamer to be measured against the big boys. If you're going to be an elite coach you have to beat elite schools. Until the day he retires, Beamer will face the question of his win-loss record against the Power five. The grand total record against The power five since Beamer took over is 10-19-1. Against teams ranked in the top 25 from the Power Five conferences is 4-12 and their record against teams from the Power Five ranked in the top 10 is 1-10. Staggering isn't it? But that's the beef of it. As much as Beamer wants to ignore the numbers, they exist, and fans are starting to notice, it's just how it is. That's why this Saturdays' game is so important. A win in Columbus would go a long way in easing the pains of these statistics. At this juncture in his career, Frank Beamer needs to channel early 90's Beamer when he was under fire and produced magic. If not, VT will fall further behind the big boys of college football.