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They regrouped to enjoy the kind of year that has become common under Beamer. The Hokies have won four ACC titles since joining the league in 2004, and they’re the only team in the country to win 10 games each of the past seven seasons.

Stanford’s improvement has been steady since Harbaugh took over in 2007. His team won four games that year and five in 2008.

Last season the Cardinal won eight games and made it to the Sun Bowl, their first bowl since 2001. This season their lone loss was to unbeaten Oregon.

Harbaugh said he promised such rapid progress the first time he met with his players.

“When you’re talking to them in your first team meeting when they’ve come off a 1-11 season, and you tell them if they stick with it, within four years we’re going to play in a BCS bowl game, and ask them to believe it, that’s the definition of faith,” Harbaugh said. “And they did. The proof in their work has been in what they’ve accomplished.”

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AP Sports Writer Josh Dubow in San Francisco contributed to this report.