Stats & Info: Virginia Tech

A scan of the college basketball box scores each night guarantees all kinds of statistical oddities and standout performances. Here are some we found from Thursday:

Texas Southern 54, Alcorn State 51
Texas Southern won despite recording only two assists. That’s tied for the fewest assists by a team in a win this season.

UNC-Asheville 91, Charleston Southern 64
UNC-Asheville shot 28-for-30 (93.3 percent) from the charity stripe in the victory. The Bulldogs now have three of the top seven single-game foul line percentages of the season (min. 30 attempts).

Clemson 58, Virginia Tech 56
Clemson won despite shooting 0-for-10 from 3-point range. The Tigers are the eighth team this season to win a game in which they missed at least 10 3s without making one.

LIU-Brooklyn 80, Sacred Heart 68
LIU’s Jason Brickman handed out 13 assists in the win. It’s his third 13+ assist game of the season; only UNC’s Kendall Marshall and Iona’s Scott Machado have more such games.

Alabama A&M 73, Jackson State 53
Jackson State’s Keeslee Stewart shot 0-for-10 from the field off the bench in the loss. He’s just the second substitute this season to attempt double-digit field goals and not score a point.
After an ACC title in 2010, it’s another season of expectations for the Virginia Tech Hokies.

But before you put the Hokies down as a national title contender, there's the little task of making it to October undefeated, something they haven't done since 2005.

In fact, they haven't even won their season opener since 2007.

It’s clear the Hokies' schedule maker is aware of this fact too, as their September schedule is infinitely easier than it has been in the past five years.

Twice in the past four years Virginia Tech has faced the eventual national champion away from home in September.

This year in September, the Hokies will face the Appalachian State Mountaineers (10-3 in FCS last season), the East Carolina Pirates (6-7 in 2010), the Arkansas State Red Wolves (4-8 in 2010) and the Marshall Thundering Herd (5-7 in 2010).

The three FBS teams they face in September combined to go 15-22 last season, and those dreaming of an Armanti Edwards-type upset by Appalachian State in the opener should note the Mountaineers lost to the Florida Gators 48-10 last season.

In addition, there will be no short-week hangover, like the Hokies suffered last year when they lost to the James Madison Dukes five days after the loss to the Boise State Broncos.

Should the Hokies reach the ACC Championship Game unbeaten -- a good possibility being they may not face a ranked team all season -- remember this: Virginia Tech is 0-23 all-time away from home against top-five teams, and they could face a top-five Florida State Seminoles team in the ACC championship.

Additionally, a No. 1 versus No. 2 matchup would certainly await the Hokies in the BCS Championship Game.

So it boils down to this for Virginia Tech: Potentially do something which has never been accomplished in school history twice in a two-game span to end the season. No pressure at all.
A statistical preview of the Discover Orange Bowl between the No. 4 Stanford Cardinal and the No. 13 Virginia Tech Hokies.

Andrew Luck’s downfield ball has been on the money in the first half of games this season, but he has struggled to complete passes down the field after halftime. Against Oregon -- the only team to beat Stanford this season -- Luck completed just two of his eight passes thrown 15 or more yards downfield in the second half.

Overall, in the first half of games, Luck averaged more than 17 yards per attempt 15 yards or more downfield with 10 touchdowns and just two interceptions.

When throwing 15 yards or more in the second half, he averaged just more than nine yards per attempt with twice as many interceptions as touchdowns.

To counter that, Luck can go to the play-action passing game. Stanford averages more than five yards per rush attempt, but the Virginia Tech defense will have to be careful not to get beat on play action. Luck has been outstanding off the play fake this season, completing more than 70 percent of his play-action passes without an interception -- numbers that get even better when he throws deep.

As usual, third down will be a key in this game, especially since Virginia Tech’s pass defense is much better on first and second downs. Stanford leads the country in third-down conversion percentage and Luck is one of the best passers in the country with the down marker showing “3”. Luck ranks in the top five in most major passing categories among quarterbacks with 50 third-down attempts.

When it comes to Stanford stopping Virginia Tech, they need to focus on the Hokies’ talented quarterback Tyrod Taylor. But if they pressure Taylor Stanford would be wise to keep him in the pocket.

Taylor has been far more effective throwing the deep ball this season when’s he is on the move. When he’s able to get outside the pocket and throw, Taylor hasn’t thrown an interception.

And when he’s throwing 15 yards or more downfield, his yards per attempt and his completion percentage are more than double when he throws from out of the pocket as opposed to in the pocket.

History to be made in BCS bowls

December, 5, 2010
There are plenty of tradition-rich programs in the BCS bowls this year -- Oklahoma, Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Virginia Tech among them.

But so much for history in any of the matchups. Four of the five bowls feature two teams that have NEVER played each other before.

And the only two teams that DO have a history are Wisconsin and TCU. Those two played to a 14-14 tie 40 years ago.

A few notes to whet your appetite on some matchups, with many more notes on the other games to come on this blog over the next few weeks:

• This will be the third BCS National Championship game in which each team was making its BCS Title Game debut. The other two took place in the inaugural game in 1998 (No. 1 Tennessee beat No. 2 Florida State, 23-16) and 2001 (No. 1 Miami defeated No. 2 Nebraska, 37-14)

An SEC team has finished in the top two in the final BCS standings in each of the last five years and in seven of the previous 13 final standings. The SEC is 6-0 in the BCS title game, winning the championship in each of the last four seasons.

By contrast, a Pac-10 team has finished in the top two of the final BCS standings three times (’04-’05 USC, ’10 Oregon). The Pac-10 is 1-1 in the BCS title game.

The matchup that might garner the most attention in this game: Oregon ranks fourth in FBS in rushing, averaging over 300 yards a game. Auburn brings the SEC's second-ranked rush defense, which holds teams to 111.7 yards a game.

Auburn has had to come from behind in eight of its 13 wins this season, but Oregon is outscoring opponents 125-24 in the 4th quarter.

• The Rose Bowl should be a high-scoring affair, with Wisconsin and TCU having scored exactly 520 points through 12 games, which puts them in a tie for fourth place among FBS teams (TCU's defense leads the nation in fewest points-per-game allowed. Wisconsin is averaging a whopping 67 points per contest in its last three games.

• Is Connecticut the mostly unlikely BSC bowl participant? The Huskies have only been playing at the FBS level since 2000 and this is just their seventh year playing in an automatic-bid conference.

They started the season 3-4 before winning their final five games and they have never been ranked this season. Their four losses are tied for the most losses by a team to make a BCS bowl game.

• Something’s gotta give in the Orange Bowl. Virginia Tech, the highest-scoring team in the ACC, takes on the best defense in the Pac-10, Stanford, which is allowing 18 points per game and has posted three shutouts this season.

• Arkansas is playing in its first BCS bowl game, with Ryan Mallett leading the Razorbacks' potent passing offense. Mallett was fifth in FBS in passing yards per game, throwing for 299 yards per contest. But he’ll be challenged by an Ohio State pass defense that ranked fourth in the nation, allowing only 156 yards per game. The most yards Ohio State has allowed through the air this year was 232 -- while Mallet has passed for fewer than 300 yards just three times in 12 games this year.

Conference Power Rankings: Week 8

October, 25, 2010
The two biggest movers after week 8 are the ACC and Big East.

The ACC -- thanks to its most AP voting points since Week 1 -- had the largest jump of any conference from last week's rankings. Florida State and Virginia Tech have not lost since September 11th. Miami’s only loss during that span was to FSU. The ACC is one Boise State loss away from overtaking the WAC. Unfortunately for the ACC, our friends at AccuScore say the Broncos have a 92.9 percent chance of remaining undefeated through the remainder of the regular season.

The Big East, on the other hand, continues its fall from the elite. West Virginia’s loss to Syracuse did help the Orange pick up eight AP voting points but also sent West Virginia’s total tumbling from 346 to eight. This is not the formula for success in this system. The Big East is 3-11 against the seven conferences rated above it.

Conference USA, the conference right behind the Big East, has its biggest game of the regular season on Saturday with UCF hosting East Carolina. Each school has won their last nine regular season conference games.

The Pac-10 and Big Ten flip-flopped again with the Pac-10 now holding the number two spot. This should be expected often throughout the rest of the regular season.

For a brief recap on how we rank the conferences click here.

FCS over FBS equals one big mess

September, 11, 2010
Less than two weeks into the 2010 college football season and five FCS schools have defeated FBS teams, matching the total number from a season ago.

James Madison 21, No. 13 Virginia Tech 16
After losing Monday night to No. 3 Boise State, Virginia Tech loses at home to James Madison - an FCS school. It's Tech's first loss to an FCS school in 12 games against such opponents dating back to 1985 (Richmond). JMU defeats an FBS school for the first time since 1990 when it took down Navy. Though the Hokies outgained the Dukes by over 125 offensive yards (362-235), Tech lost the turnover battle. JMU did not commit a turnover while VT lost a pair of fumbles and Tyrod Taylor was intercepted once.

JMU's ensuing drive off the interception resulted in the go-ahead touchdown. The loss snaps Virginia Tech's streak of 32 straight non-conference home wins. Virginia Tech is just the second ranked FBS school to lose to an FCS school ever, joining 5th-ranked Michigan's infamous Appalachian State loss in 2007.

South Dakota 41, Minnesota 38
South Dakota QB Dante Warren accounted for 433 yards of total offense, threw three touchdown passes and ran for two more scores as the Coyotes of the FCS Great West Conference took the lead midway through the first quarter and never relinquished it in upsetting Minnesota on Saturday in Minneapolis in the first meeting between the two schools in 80 years. Will Powell had eight catches for 156 yards and 2 TD for the Coyotes (1-1), who lost their opener last week at Central Florida. Adam Weber passed for 258 yards and three touchdowns and Duane Bennett rushed for 102 yards and 2 TD in a losing cause for Minnesota (1-1), which lost at home to an FCS team for the second time in four years. In 2007, the Gophers lost to North Dakota State.

Starting at 6ET tonight, 14 more FCS teams will battle FBS teams, including Tennessee Tech at No. 4 TCU.
The note, stat or trend you need to know about each top-25 team in action on Saturday.

18 Penn State at 1 Alabama, 7 ET on ESPN: In the last 15 years, the No. 1 team in the AP poll is 26-0 at home against ranked opponents, with an average victory margin of nearly 22 points per game. Penn State has not allowed a touchdown in its three previous trips to Tuscaloosa. The Nittany Lions won 9-0 in 1990, 23-3 in 1986 and lost 6-0 in 1984.

12 Miami (FL) at 2 Ohio State, 3:40 ET on ESPN: Miami hasn’t won away from home against an AP top two team since Nov. 16, 1991 when the second-ranked Canes knocked off top-ranked Florida State in Tallahassee. Since then, Miami has lost seven straight such games, including bowls. Ohio State is 26-2 at home under Jim Tressel against non-conference opponents. The only losses were against third-ranked USC last season (18-15) and second-ranked Texas in 2005 (25-22).

Tennessee Tech at 4 TCU, 7 ET: Seven of TCU’s last eight victories have been by at least 27 points. The lone exception was a 30-21 win over Oregon State last Saturday in the 2010 season opener.

Wyoming at 5 Texas, 7 ET: The Longhorns have won 15 straight home games, tied for the fifth-longest active streak in the nation, and are 3-0 all-time against Wyoming, including a 41-10 win last year in Laramie.

Idaho at 6 Nebraska, 12:30 ET: Nebraska is 21-1 all-time against current WAC teams and has allowed 20 or fewer points in nine straight games dating back to last season, the longest streak in the nation.

7 Oregon at Tennessee, 7 ET on ESPN2: Both Oregon and Tennessee shut out their opponents in Week 1 (Oregon 72-0 vs New Mexico, Tennessee 50-0 vs Tennessee-Martin). Nine teams posted shutouts in Week 1 – these two are the only ones who are playing each other in Week 2. Tennessee’s opening week shutout was its first since 1993 against Louisiana Tech. Oregon’s was its first since 1988 against Long Beach State.

South Florida at 8 Florida, 12:21 ET on ESPN3: Florida meets South Florida for the first time. The Gators are 9-0 under Urban Meyer against teams from the state of Florida. However, Meyer is not perfect against the state of Florida. While Bowling Green’s coach in 2002, his squad lost to South Florida 29-7.

Iowa State at 9 Iowa, 3:30 ET on ABC/ESPN2: The Cyclones have been a thorn in Kirk Ferentz’s side since he joined the Hawkeyes, though he’s been better against them recently. Ferentz started 0-4 against Iowa State but is 5-2 since then. The worst of those losses came in 2002, when Iowa was prevented from an undefeated regular season by one game – a home loss to Iowa State.

17 Florida State at 10 Oklahoma, 3:30 ET on ABC/ESPN2: Oklahoma has won 31 straight home games, the longest active streak in the nation. Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher is facing his first ranked opponent. On September 25, 1976, Bobby Bowden coached his first game against a ranked opponent as FSU coach. It was against the fourth-ranked Sooners. Florida State lost 24-9 in what was Bowden’s third career game as FSU head coach.

San Jose State at 11 Wisconsin, Noon ET on ESPN: Wisconsin has won 14 straight home openers, dating back to 1996. They have also won 25 consecutive regular-season games against non-conference opponents. Their last loss came at home to UNLV on Sept. 13, 2003.

James Madison at 13 Virginia Tech, 1:30 on Virginia Tech has won 32 straight non-conference home games and has won all six of its meetings with JMU, outscoring the Dukes 245-44.

UL Monroe vs 14 Arkansas, 7 ET on Arkansas leads the all-time series 8-0, outscoring ULM 327-121 in the process. The Razorbacks are also 26-0 all-time against current members of the Sun Belt Conference.

15 Georgia Tech at Kansas, Noon ET: This is the second meeting all-time between the two schools, with the first coming on January 1, 1948 in the Orange Bowl (a 20-14 Georgia Tech victory).

Virginia at 16 USC, 10:30 ET: USC is on a 17-game non-conference winning streak dating back to its loss in the 2006 Rose Bowl against Texas and has won 11 straight home openers.

19 LSU at Vanderbilt, 7 ET on ESPNU: LSU has won six straight and 10 of the last 11 meetings with Vanderbilt (the Commodores have not defeated LSU since 1990).

UNLV at 20 Utah, 4 ET: Utah has won 18 straight home games, the third-longest active streak among FBS teams. The school record of 26 was set from 1928-34.

22 Georgia at 24 South Carolina, Noon ET on ESPN2: Steve Spurrier went 11-1 against Georgia when he was the Florida head coach but is just 1-4 against the Bulldogs with South Carolina. He never faced Georgia while he was coaching Duke. Georgia had seven different players score a touchdown in Week 1 – most for the team since 1994, when seven players scored in a 70-6 win against Northeast Louisiana.

Nickel package: LSU owns the ACC

September, 3, 2010
1. LSU enters Saturday's matchup with North Carolina on an 18-game winning streak vs the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Tigers have beaten eight different ACC foes during this streak, including four wins over UNC, and haven't lost to an ACC team since falling to Maryland in 1955. This is the longest winning streak any team has had against the conference since it began play in 1953.

2. Virginia Tech enters its game against No. 3 Boise State with an all-time record of 1-25 vs teams ranked in the top five of the AP poll (beat No. 2 Miami in 2003). Even worse, the Hokies are 0-21 in such games away from Blacksburg, VA. This game, of course, is being played in Landover, MD at FedEx Field.

3. One of the interesting subplots to Monday's Boise State-Virginia Tech game is the high-scoring BSU offense, which returns all but one starter from 2009, against the Tech defense, which has to replace six starters. Both units, however, have shown the ability to excel regardless of experience. Over the last decade (2000-09), Boise State was the nation's top scoring team (41.4 points per game), while Virginia Tech was the nation's second-best scoring defense (16.3 points per game allowed). Only Ohio State (15.2 points per game allowed) was better than the Hokies at keeping opponents off the scoreboard during the last 10 years.

4. Mike Riley's success at Oregon State has been one of the great college football stories of the last few decades, but his teams have been notoriously slow starters. In his nine seasons as the Beavers head coach (two terms with a four-year gap in between), his teams are 1-12 in pre-October games away from home. The lone win came last year, beating UNLV with a field goal in the closing seconds. In fairness to Riley, he's faced a lot of big-time opponents in those games, just as he will this September. Oregon State plays TCU in Arlington, TX on Saturday and travels to Boise State three weeks later.

5. Alabama is the fifth defending champion in the last nine years to be ranked No. 1 in the AP preseason poll. It's natural to think that such a team is just being placed there by default by voters who are afraid to go out on a limb, but recent history has shown this to be a high-percentage selection. The previous four defending champs to start the season No. 1 all won at least their first 12 games of that season.