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USA Today Re-Ranking Has the Hokies at 20

USA Today's re-ranking, while not official, shows the Hokies more respect than the pre-season 2015 Amway Coaches poll.

At the conclusion of the 2014 NCAA College Football season USA Today provided their opinion of the performance of FBS team efforts in their periodic re-ranking. After the Hokies defeated Cincinnati in the 2014 Military Bowl USA Today re-rankings had them as the 63rd team in the nation. In that place the Hokies were relegated to the sweet, creamy middle of college football just ahead of San Diego State (7-6) and behind Houston (8-5). As Hokie faithful know, Virginia Tech is not comfortable near the center and are much more accustomed to being frontrunners.

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This year the top teams in the initial re-ranking are essentially a slight shuffle of the representative programs in the official Amway Coaches poll. Ohio State still finds itself at the pinnacle of both rankings. Teams like Baylor and Alabama have shifted slightly, but still remain represented in the top five. One of the more dramatic re-rankings is that of Boise State. The Broncos find themselves ranked at 24 in the Coaches poll, but in the re-ranking they are awarded fifth, leaping elite teams like the Florida State Seminoles and the Oregon Ducks.

Historically VPI does seem to perform better with a chip on their shoulder, as the underdog, but the USA Today re-ranking shows the Hokies a bit more respect than the official ballot. In July the USA Today Amway Coach’s Poll was released, and listed the Hokies effectively at 29, with 70 points. In the re-ranking Virginia Tech finds itself ranked a respectable 20 behind Arizona State and ahead of Notre Dame. Interestingly, the Sun Devils and the Fighting Irish find themselves both ranked in the top 25 of the Amway Coaches Poll at 16 and 11, respectively.

The Fighting Gobblers are ahead of several teams in the re-rankings that are rated higher in the official poll. LSU, Wisconsin, Missouri, and Tennessee all have showings in the top 25 of the Amway Coaches poll, but fall behind VT in the re-ranking. Oklahoma State and Mississippi State are not in the official top 25, but do represent two teams that received more points than Virginia Tech. Regardless, in USA Today’s re-ranking, the two teams can be found in VPI’s wake.

While the Amway Coaches poll only has three ACC teams in the top 25, with the addition of re-ranked VT at 20, the ACC is represented by four teams in the re-imagined top 25. This ACC effort matches the Big 12 and Big 10 showing of teams in the re-ranking.

One can only surmise the reasoning behind USA Today’s increased esteem for the Hokies in the re-ranking. Perhaps, USA Today Sports recognizes that Bud Foster’s defense looks like one of the best VT efforts ever fielded.  Combining that reality with the fact the offense appears to be somewhat resurgent and more experienced, USA Today may have been impressed enough to move the Hokies into the top 25.