Hokies' hopes at national title disappear quickly

Posted by ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich

ATLANTA, Ga. -- Virginia Tech couldn’t control what Iowa, Cincinnati and USC were doing on Saturday night. They had no power over Alabama or Florida. All the Hokies could do was control the game in front of them, and in the second half against Georgia Tech on Saturday night, they couldn’t do that, either.

Virginia Tech’s chances at the national title -- and the ACC’s hopes that were piggybacking on the Hokies’ success -- took a dramatic dive after the Hokies' 28-23 loss to Georgia Tech. Only once in the history of the BCS has a two-loss team ever played for the national title, and that was in 2007, when a loss to LSU kept the Hokies out of the national championship game and opened the door for the Tigers. Similarly, Virginia Tech’s loss to Alabama in the season opener would also come back to haunt them, but with so many other teams in the country with one loss or still undefeated, it’s an improbable scenario anyway.

The No. 4-ranked Hokies (5-2, 3-1 ACC) waited until the fourth quarter to play like a team with the national title on the line, and by then it was too late.

“UNC. Isn’t that the next game? UNC,” said Virginia Tech running back Ryan Williams. “We can’t think no further than that. I think that’s a problem with a lot of people. They look at the bigger picture before they take care of the smaller picture. We have to work and get ourselves prepared to play UNC. We can’t skip. We can’t skip to the end of the season. Before the season, there were so many talks about the national championship. Then we lost. Then we got ourselves back into the rankings. We took another (loss). We have to be prepared to take every week, week by week, and play our A-game. We can’t play our A-game in the fourth quarter. That’s what killed us.”

The loss dropped the Hokies behind Virginia in the Coastal Division standings and into a tie with Miami, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech. Virginia, which started out 0-3 overall, is suddenly the only team still undefeated in the conference, thanks to a win over Maryland today.

The biggest loss of the day, though, was the for the ACC -- another year without a contender for the national title.