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Beamer: Expect Boise State game to come down 'to a play or two'

Virginia Tech hasn’t shied away from scheduling tough openers of late.

Southern Cal in 2004. Alabama in 2009. Both went on to win national titles those years, for those keeping score at home.

And then there’s the 2010 opener. Boise State is coming off an undefeated season and is #3 in the preseason national polls, and the trendy pick for the BCS title game in January.

But the Broncos have to get past a Tech squad ranked #6 in the coaches’ poll, #10 in the AP, the preseason favorite in the rugged (five teams in the preseason national Top 25) ACC, that also happens to have some institutional knowledge of how these kinds of early-season games can go.

“What you learn is it usually gets down to a play or two,” Hokies coach Frank Beamer said Wednesday in his weekly teleconference. “In all those games, we had it close. We had a chance there against Southern Cal. We had an interference call that certainly could have changed that game. Alabama, we were up in the fourth quarter. So you kind of learn that it gets down to a play or two, and you hope you’re on the positive side of that play.”

Boise State is a three-point favorite heading into the Labor Day night showdown being played ostensibly on a neutral field at FedEx Field in Landover, Md., the home of the NFL’s Washington Redskins. it won’t play as a neutral field, though, as we saw in ’04 when Hokie Nation set up residence at FedEx for that wild opener with SC.

The effective home-field advantage for Virginia Tech will offset the experience advantage in favor of Boise State, which returns 19 starters to Tech’s 13, including six holes on the defensive side of the ball for Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster.

“Early in the year, when you don’t play exhibition games, that’s certainly a plus for them,” said Beamer, who still feels scheduling an opener with a team the caliber of Boise State is a plus for his team overall.

“When you play a good team like Boise State, your preseason practices are better, I think your summer workouts are better. I think you become a better football team overall because you’ve really prepared well, and you know you have to make a good preparation to have a chance to win. From that standpoint, I think you help yourself,” Beamer said.

The one disadvantage for a team with national-title aspirations is that you could play great football in your opener and still end up with an L for the effort. Beamer, for his part, doesn’t think an early loss against a Boise State-type opponent spells automatic gloom and doom.

“You’ve got to count on other people if you lose, but I don’t think it’s a given that you’re out of the national picture when you play a high-ranked team like Boise,” the coach said.

And for that matter, you don’t get too far in football if you go out thinking about what happens in the event that you lose.

“If we can beat Boise State, we’ve beaten a quality football program. A program that deserves to be highly ranked. Every time they’ve had a chance on the national level, they’ve answered the bell. This team is for real, no question about it,” Beamer said.

Story by Chris Graham. Chris can be reached at

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