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Never mind all the whining and crying over whether defending national champion USC is No. 1 in the Bowl Championship Series rankings, or whether Texas has earned the right to own that prestigious position.

You want controversy?

Watch Virginia Tech.

The No. 3 Hokies are the team most likely to drive the BCS right into another brick wall, by potentially providing another nightmare scenario in which they either are the undefeated team left out of the national championship game (perhaps with stronger credentials than a team that does play for the title), or the one that bumps one of the glamorous favorites - the Trojans and Longhorns - out of the game at the Rose Bowl on Jan. 4.

Of course, to do that, the Hokies will have to find a way past No. 5 Miami at rowdy Lane Stadium in Blacksburg on Saturday in what could be the most important game of the year, anywhere.

"All I know is that every game I've gone into against Miami, I've been scared to death knowing that each play could be a big play against you, whether you're on offense, defense or the kicking game," Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said. "All I can remember is holding my breath a lot against them."

That, and the winning.

Much of the talk surrounding the game has focused not only on dangerous Tech quarterback Marcus Vick and the nation's top two defenses - "this is the best defense they've ever had," Beamer said - but also on the Hokies' recent success against the Hurricanes. They have won seven of the past 10 meetings, including the one last season in Miami that delivered their first ACC championship.

"We can't really worry about the past," Miami quarterback Kyle Wright said. "We want to write our own script. . . . It's kind of a make-or-break game. There's a lot riding on it."

While the 6-1 Hurricanes are getting their first real test since losing to rival Florida State in the season-opener two months ago, the 8-0 Hokies are trying to remain on track to meet the Seminoles in the ACC title game and fuel an even more contentious rankings battle over the season's final month than the one fought by USC, Oklahoma and Auburn last season.

All three finished undefeated, but Auburn angrily was left out of the title game - just as USC was left out the previous season, despite having lost only one game, same as LSU and Oklahoma.

"The only way we can affect the BCS is to go play well against Miami," Beamer said.


With fellow unbeatens Alabama and UCLA likely to lose before the end of the season - the offensively challenged Tide still must play LSU and at Auburn, while the Bruins' last-minute luck is bound to run out against Oregon, USC or Stanford - the Hokies are the best hope to throw another wrench into what many college football fans desperately hope is a dying system.

If they beat Miami and finish undefeated, they will have beaten four teams in the top 15 - presuming they meet FSU in the league title game - and gone undefeated against opponents whose current combined record is 53-38. That would be virtually indistinguishable from the résumés of either the Trojans or the Longhorns, and enough to ignite another round of BCS-bashing that would be about as much fun to watch as the Rose Bowl itself.

The BCS must "hope there's not more than two undefeated teams at the end, or they've screwed up again, very honestly," Texas coach Mack Brown said. "That's what they've got to hope."

And the rest of us?

Knowing that another inconclusive year of the BCS could help inch the ridiculous system that much closer to extinction, we've got to hope the Hokies can go all the way, right alongside USC and Texas.


Want to see the Hokies and Hurricanes battle from a whole different perspective?

Check out ESPNU.

The ESPN tentacle dedicated solely to college sports will experiment Saturday with broadcasting almost the entire game using its "SkyCam" overhead camera.

The network occasionally will break-in with shots and replays from its regular game feed over on ESPN, and it will use the same announcing team of Ron Franklin, Bob Davie and Holly Rowe on both broadcasts. Otherwise, though, it will give viewers three hours of programming from high overhead.