College Football Corner: The unbeaten & unsung, plus cruising Cavaliers and humbled Hokies

While Maryland and Navy are looking for their next games, Virginia Tech is looking for answers and Virginia is looking to harness its midseason momentum.

Plus, the first College Football Playoff rankings will be released this week.

Of course the usual suspects — Alabama, Notre Dame and Ohio State — are staking claims thanks to their unbeaten starts. But they aren’t the only schools minus blemishes.

No. 7 Cincinnati needed a fourth quarter rally to dispose of UCF, No. 8 BYU has cobbled together nine wins against a wide array of teams across the country and No. 15 Coastal Carolina is giving the nickname “Chanticleers” new life.

Of all years to expand the playoff to eight schools, 2020 would make sense, because of the scrambled schedules. But it won’t happen, and college football’s caste system keeps the strivers in the equivalent of steerage. Because why should one settle things on the field?

Virginia (4-4) has now won three straight, and while nobody will confuse Abilene Christian with Clemson, the 55-15 pasting showed a 60-minute effort with little let-up. It took a while to get the offense going (27 yards on their first nine plays from scrimmage) before Brennan Armstrong & company scored touchdowns on six straight possessions. And while nobody will be putting Virginia’s name in for playoff consideration, D’Sean Perry’s 84-yard interception return for a touchdown allowed the 39.5-point favorites to cover.

Cavalier Congrats: Armstrong threw for a career-high 383 yards and four touchdowns, while the offense converted 7 of 11 third downs and didn’t commit a turnover. Tony Poljan led the team with five catches for 77 yards and a TD, while freshman Lavel Davis Jr. broke out for a 90-yard touchdown reception (don’t worry, Billy Kemp IV still caught four passes for 69 yards). Nick Jackson notched 11 tackles as the defense held the Wildcats to 1.9 yards per carry.

Cavalier Concerns: It’s tough to find blemishes in a 40-point win, but here goes nothing. The ground game did manage just 3.5 yards per carry, and taking Armstrong’s runs out of the equation, the team gained just 63 yards on 27 attempts.

Next: Saturday at 2-6 Florida State.

Virginia Tech (4-5, 4-4 ACC) continued its free fall with a 47-14 loss to Pitt. In the preseason, some were wondering if the last two years were a hiccup or a harbinger, and even though 2020 will be viewed in a different manner due to the pandemic, there’s still the fact that this program is in danger of consecutive losing campaigns for the first time since 1991-92.

Hokie Highlights: Hendon Hooker threw for 260 yards and two touchdowns, and his 53 yards rushing were second-most on the team. Tre Turner caught both touchdown passes, with the first being a 55-yard strike. Chamarri Conner notched seven tackles and an interception.

Hokie Humblings: The offense converted 3 of 11 third downs while turning the ball over twice. The defense was gashed for 404 yards passing (former Maryland WR DJ Turner recorded 15 catches for 184 yards to give the Panthers a boost). Brian Johnson missed a 38-yard field goal, while the usually reliable Oscar Bradburn averaged under 40 yards per punt.

Next: Dec. 5 against No. 4 Clemson.

Dave Preston

Dave has been in the D.C. area for 10 years and in addition to working at WTOP since 2002 has also been on the air at Westwood One/CBS Radio as well as Red Zebra Broadcasting (Redskins Network).

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