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COLLEGE FOOTBALL / WEEK 11

Showdown a Meltdown for No. 2 Virginia Tech

Big East: No. 3 Miami rolls, 41-21, as injured Vick stumbles and Hokie defense staggers.

November 05, 2000|CHRIS DUFRESNE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

MIAMI — It was no ruse, no ploy and no trick when it came to Michael Vick.

He could not outfox medical science, side-step reality or come to heroic rescue.

After a week of speculation, it turns out Virginia Tech had come clean about its superstar quarterback.

Vick was hurt, which, as it relates to performance letdowns, is like hearing that Streisand has a sore throat.

It may not have mattered.

No. 3 Miami was that dominating in a 41-21 victory over No. 2 Virginia Tech on Saturday before 77,410 at the Orange Bowl.

But Vick's bad wheel certainly changed the game's dynamics.

On two good legs, Vick is the game's most dangerous player.

On one good leg, he turned out to be a liability.

After falling behind, 14-0, late in the first quarter, Virginia Tech rushed Vick into the game to replace fifth-year senior Dave Meyer, but it took only a few steps on a bum right ankle to realize Vick did not have a good leg to stand on.

In a little more than a quarter's work, Vick would fumble, throw an interception, complete two of nine passes and rush for five yards.

"I take my hat off to them," Vick said of Miami. "They're a good football team. But I was not 100%. That was not Michael Vick out there."

Even if Vick had been at his best, you wondered if it would have been enough.

Miami is hip-deep in the redemption business. Three weeks after knocking off No. 1 Florida State, ending a five-game losing streak against the Seminoles, Miami disposed of No. 2 Virginia Tech, which also had won five in a row in the series.

Last year, in Blacksburg, Va., Virginia Tech scored 43 unanswered points in a rout of Miami.

Saturday was the payback and you could argue not even a sound Vick could have prevented it.

Miami exploited the Virginia Tech defense for scores of 42, 17, 44, 50 and 80 yards. The other Hurricane touchdown came on a 44-yard interception return.

Miami led, 21-0, at the half and extended the lead to 35-7 at one point.

The Hurricanes, 7-1 overall and 4-0 in the Big East, proved they are certainly worthy of national title attention and the Hokies (8-1, 6-1) proved they are not.

Never mind the loss of Vick, or the loss of talented receiver Andre Davis, who left the game after suffering a leg injury in the first half.

This is not the Virginia Tech team that was 11-0 last season and put up a fight against Florida State in the national title game.

That Hokie team played defense.

This team?

The Hokies lost nine starters from last year's squad that finished No. 3 in total defense. That team produced four NFL draft picks: defensive linemen Corey Moore and John Engelberger, and cornerbacks Anthony Midget and Ike Charlton.

In last year's wipeout against Miami, Charlton recovered three fumbles, returning one for a touchdown, while Midget had three interceptions.

Saturday, Miami exposed the Virginia Tech defense for what it was: young, dazed and confused.

Hurricane quarterback Ken Dorsey completed 11 of 23 passes for 283 yards and three touchdowns, building his career by picking on freshman cornerback Eric Green.

Three Miami backs--James Jackson, Najeh Davenport and Clinton Portis--combined to rush for 209 yards against a porous Hokie front.

Jackson did the most damage, gaining 145 yards in 28 carries, including a 17-yard touchdown run in the first quarter in which he reversed field and sprinted untouched into the end zone.

Did the loss of Vick hurt?

"You've got the best quarterback in the country," Virginia Tech Coach Frank Beamer said. "It would have helped if he was in there."

Only if Vick played defense, perhaps.

Miami players were quick to say they were ready to exact revenge, Vick or no Vick.

"It didn't matter," Miami defensive tackle Damione Lewis said. "We had a game plan for everything they wanted to do."

After Vick had a pass intercepted in the second quarter, it was Lewis who lingered in the offensive backfield and barked a few choice words at Vick.

"Just told him not to choke in a big game," Lewis said later.

Now, for Miami, the season becomes a fight for respect. The Hurricanes will jump to No. 2 in both national polls this week, but they will probably still lag behind in the all-important bowl championship series rankings.

Last week, despite being No. 3 in both polls, Miami ranked only fifth in the BCS rankings, an important factor because the top two schools in the final rankings will get to play for the national title in the Jan. 3 Orange Bowl.

Miami fans aren't taking this lightly.

While they pelted the stadium turf with oranges after the game, exuding their hopes of a home-town national title-game appearance, they also held up signs that conveyed their mistrust of the BCS.

"Ah, that's something we can't worry about," Lewis said. "We've just got to play. We know that if we lose one again, it's over. Period."

Miami has Big East games remaining against Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Boston College, and hopes the strength of those opponents will give the Hurricanes the boost they need in the BCS computer.

Virginia Tech? The Hokies' national-title aspirations are probably extinguished. The Hokies' best bet now is a 10-1 finish and a possible at-large invite to a BCS bowl. If not, then a spot in the Gator Bowl.

Vick hopes to play this week against Central Florida. Then, the Hokies have an open date before closing out against arch-rival Virginia on Nov. 25.

"I have no regrets," Vick said of his decision to play. "I didn't go out and re-injure it. No regrets. It's something I wanted to do."

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