Vick-less Tech prepares to take on Miami
By PEYTON BERG
Who needs the BCS poll? Entering its final month, the 2000 college football season has given fans a makeshift playoff system. By bowl season, most top 10 teams will have already played each other. Last week's Oklahoma-Nebraska shootout gave the nation a new No. 1, at least for a week. This Saturday, get ready for the Big East Championship and the battle for No. 2.
Virginia Tech enters the Orange Bowl at 8-0 after last year's 11-1 campaign. A season ago, while the Seminoles celebrated after their Sugar Bowl victory, the rest of the nation stood in awe of a redshirt freshman quarterback named Michael Vick. Vick's stunning combination of strength, speed and athleticism made the vaunted Florida State defense look like a high school junior varsity team.
Unfortunately, Vick sprained his ankle in Saturday's 37-34 victory against Pittsburgh. Coach Frank Beamer has named senior Dave Meyer the starter this week, but claims Vick will play if he's healthy. For the Hokies, this could not have come at a worse time.
The No. 3 Miami Hurricanes are peaking at the right time.
After a September loss at Washington, coach Butch Davis refocused his team and the Hurricanes have responded.
Sophomore quarterback Ken Dorsey has emerged as a talented leader, as evidenced by his game-winning drive against Florida State.
While strong on offense, the Hokies are admittedly suspect on defense. Their defensive line has four brand-new starters, and the secondary sports three rookies as well.
Conversely, Miami's defense, led by linebacker Dan Morgan, can play with anybody.
Michael Vick is the X-factor. If he plays, the Hokies will compete. If not, the Hurricanes should effectively position themselves to stay home for the holidays in the Orange Bowl.
Clemson at Florida State
Bowden Bowl II could have been bigger, but Georgia Tech upset the then-No. 4 and undefeated Tigers last Saturday 31-28.
Son Tommy Bowden brings his team into Tallahassee looking for revenge after 1999's 17-14 contest, but don't expect any parental favors. Quarterback Woody Dantzler has emerged as a two-way threat this season, and Clemson needs him to play well Saturday.
Dad Bobby Bowden's Seminoles still entertain National Championship aspirations, but must host Florida in two weeks. Quarterback Chris Weinke continues to nurse a sprained ankle, but looked sharp in pasting NC State, 58-14.
Florida State desperately needs a kicking game. After four years of bliss with Sebastian Jankowski, FSU kickers have struggled mightily. This does not bode well for a team that hopes to be in the Orange Bowl at season's end.
Michigan at Northwestern
This game of Big Ten also-rans has Drew Brees and Purdue to thank for their No. 2 league status.
On paper, Michigan should crush No. 23 Northwestern. The problem in the Big Ten this season is that somebody keeps forgetting to tell Northwestern it's not supposed to be good.
This Wildcats team is not equal to the Gary Barnett '95 and '96 teams that beat Michigan twice en route to a Rose Bowl and a 15-1 conference record. However, it does have a nasty habit of winning games that it shouldn't.
Last week, Northwestern was down by 21 against Minnesota, then won on a tipped pass to Sam Simmons with 41 seconds left. The winner of this game most likely will earn a Citrus Bowl berth and an outside chance at the Big Ten Championship should Purdue falter.
All Sports Stories for Friday, November 3, 2000