- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 23, 2005

BLACKSBURG, Va. — Frank Beamer says he has much to be thankful for this week — especially his team’s chance for redemption.

No. 5 Virginia Tech received a second opportunity to win the ACC’s Coastal Division title last weekend when Georgia Tech upset front-runner Miami.

“You do feel fortunate when something like this happens,” Beamer said.

So fortunate, in fact, that Georgia Tech coach Chan Gailey can expect to receive Beamer’s personal thanks the next time he visits Blacksburg.

“He’s got a dinner at Beamer’s [Restaurant], and the food’s good,” the Hokies’ coach said. “He’ll have two of everything.”

All looked lost for the Hokies only two weeks ago after their game against Miami. Virginia Tech was unbeaten, ranked No. 3 in the polls and hoped to slip past Texas in the BCS rankings and earn a spot in the national championship game in the Rose Bowl.

The Hurricanes, however, blew into Blacksburg on Nov. 5 and handed the Hokies a humiliating 27-7 defeat.

The Hokies dropped to No. 8 in both polls, and their chances for a national championship, an ACC title and a BCS bid were over, too — or so it appeared.

Then, Georgia Tech upset Miami, and the conference championship and an Orange Bowl berth were possibilities again.

Beamer was asked this week what went through his mind as he watched the nail-biter in Miami between the Yellow Jackets and Hurricanes.

“You mean what was I praying?” Beamer mused. “I was thinking probably what you were thinking: If Georgia Tech can pull this thing off, there’s going to be a lot of happy Hokies.”

That’s an understatement.

The loss by Miami rejuvenated the Hokies, who can wrap up the Coastal Division and earn a trip to the ACC Championship game at Jacksonville on Dec. 2 with a victory over North Carolina here Saturday night.

That would mean a title game against a familiar foe, Florida State, and a chance for back-to-back conference titles. But Beamer says he’s looking no further ahead than the practices leading up to Saturday’s game.

“We went over all the possibilities that exist right now, and after that, that was the last time I want to hear any of it,” Beamer said of championship and bowl games.

Caught looking ahead before the Miami game, Virginia Tech (9-1, 6-1 ACC) needs a win Saturday to play for its second consecutive ACC championship.

The game also has meaning for North Carolina (5-5, 4-3 ACC), which needs the win to become bowl eligible.

“This is a gigantic game for both us,” said Beamer, last season’s ACC coach of the year. “Every week there’s a couple of games you say, ‘How could that happen?’ Each week you better be ready to play.”

In the 10 days after losing to Miami, Beamer’s challenge was keeping his team focused on Virginia. That’s because in two of the past three seasons the Hokies tailed off after falling out of national championship contention: They lost three of their last five in 2002 and four of their last five in 2003.

“A couple of years ago, things weren’t so good. Things weren’t quite right with our football team,” Beamer said.

This season, Virginia Tech held together, pasting the Cavaliers 52-14 to win the Commonwealth Cup.

“I think our seniors really got us right for the Virginia game,” said Beamer, noting how they learned from past failures and from last season’s ACC championship. “We need to call on them again this week.”

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