Virginia Tech's poll numbers are slipping, but the Hokies still rate a clear choice to rule ACC football.
Such was the verdict of media attending the conference's preseason kickoff Monday. The question was, can Virginia Tech parlay a league title into a national championship?
"I think if you're in the hunt enough times, one of these days it's going to work out," coach Frank Beamer said. "That's our plan."
Win or lose a compelling opener against Boise State on Labor Day night in Landover, Md., the Hokies should be in the national hunt come November. That's when they face consecutive tests against their top Coastal Division rivals: Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Miami, the latter two on the road.
Sure, the Hokies could lose one of the seven games between Boise State and Georgia Tech. But they shouldn't.
Not with an offense quarterbacked by Tyrod Taylor, an efficient, unflappable senior, and led by Ryan Williams, the best tailback of Beamer's 24 years in Blacksburg.
ACC media certainly like Virginia Tech. Among 98 voters, 62 picked the Hokies to win the Coastal Division. Miami was next with 20.
The ACC championship game victor in Charlotte? Fifty tabbed Virginia Tech, with Florida State a distant second at 26.
Duke coach David Cutcliffe chimed in by saying that the Hokies have all the ingredients to claim a national title. Understand that as an Alabama graduate and an assistant coach on Tennessee's 1998 national championship team, Cutcliffe understands what it takes.
"I'm surprised actually at the (lopsided) numbers," Beamer said, "because I really think there's a lot of really good teams in the ACC. … It kind of makes a statement about our program in general."
Beamer said much the same a year ago, when an even larger majority, 89.7 percent of voters, liked Virginia Tech to rule the division, 79.3 percent to win the conference. Just as Beamer warned, the Hokies finished two games behind Georgia Tech.
But Beamer's bunch should be better, especially on offense. And after Boise State, which returns every offensive starter from a 14-0 team, Virginia Tech encounters lesser opponents that figure to give the defense time to develop.
"I know we're going to be a good defense," Beamer said. "But how quickly?"
By an early October trip to North Carolina State would be advisable, given the skills of Wolfpack quarterback Russell Wilson (48 touchdown passes, 12 interceptions in two seasons).
Wilson's gaudy numbers notwithstanding, Beamer called Taylor the ACC's best quarterback.
"He's just exactly the right guy to lead this football team," Beamer said.
Beamer also gushed about Williams: "I think he can do it all. You talk about the complete tailback."
Most telling, Beamer did not dissuade a reporter who suggested that 2010's roster is the most talented in program history.
Yes, injuries can derail any team. And no, placekicker Chris Hazley has never appeared in a college game.
But Georgia Tech's ACC championship aside, Virginia Tech was the conference's highest rated team, 10th in the Associated Press and coaches' polls, at season's end.
"Our goal is to win a national championship," Beamer said. "We don't back down from that fact. … I want recruits to come to Virginia Tech to help us win a national championship."
David Teel can be reached at 247-4636 or by e-mail at email@example.com. For more from Teel, read his blog at dailypress.com/teeltime. Sign up for text alerts by texting "BIG SPORTS" to 71593.