FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Yes, Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer plays favorites, and his 1995 team and national title runner-up squad are among them.
This year’s team could play its way onto his list of favorites with a victory against Stanford in the Discover Orange Bowl.
“The reality of it, I said, I thought this was the most important game we have played beside [the national championship game and the Sugar Bowl the 1995 team played in],” Beamer said. “Those were two good football teams that you like a lot. But, I think this game comes in there as terms of being very, very important toward the history of Virginia Tech football.”
The last time Virginia Tech started out 0-2 was in 1995, when the Hokies went on to win the final nine games of the regular season and beat Texas in the Sugar Bowl to finish 10-2.
“That’s one of coach Beamer's favorite teams, and he always lets us know, because he is so proud of them, that it’s not over until it’s over,” said defensive tackle John Graves. “It’s a great message, and I think a lot of people really bought into it.”
This team is also comparable to the 1999 team in that they both won 11 in a row. Only three previous times in school history has Virginia Tech had a winning streak of 10 games or more. The current streak, 1999 and a 13-game streak that started in 1995 and carried over into 1996.
Has this been Beamer’s best coaching job?
Offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring compared it to the 1995 season.
“He's had a lot of great coaching jobs, I think,” Stinespring said. “I've been privy to many of them. I go back to '95 when we started 0-2 that year, and how he handled that situation I thought was special. I think there was a -- there's not a procedure, there's not a book, there's not a manual that says, step one, in case of crisis. It's not like you get on the plane and all of a sudden an oxygen mask comes down and all those type things that you do from a step-by-step process. There's not one of those deals.”
Despite the start, the Hokies still have a chance to make their mark in school history. A 12-game winning streak would be the longest single-season winning streak in school history. Virginia Tech would have won three straight bowl games for the first time in school history.
“I think a lot of people doubted us because of the first two games; it was definitely two downers,” defensive end Chris Drager said. “Obviously we have come back and gone 11-0 after [the first two games]. We are on a momentum swing, but it does really come down to this game.”