Two games.Thats all Virginia Tech must win to maintain one of the most impressive streaks in college football.
With victories in their final two contests, the Hokies will qualify to play in a 20th consecutive bowl game. Even in a time where more than half of the FBS teams qualify for the postseason, the streak is still quite impressive.
But its nowhere close to a given.
Hokie Nation is still thinking about scenarios their team can represent the Coastal Division and play for another ACC championship. But Frank Beamers team must walk before it can run. And the only way to do that is to win at Boston College and close with a home victory over rival Virginia.
Virginia Tech is 4-6 overall (2-4 ACC), its worst start since finishing 2-8-1 in 1992. The following season, the Hokies went 9-3 and routed Indiana in the Independence Bowl, beginning a run that is now hanging by a thread. And to take care of the first leg of this two-game stretch, the team must do it on the road, where it has surprisingly dropped seven consecutive games.
Before that streak, I thought we had a pretty good streak of wins away from home, Beamer said. We really dont do anything different. We have talked this season about mental toughness and physical toughness away from home. I think theres something to that. Other than that, I think the effort has been good, we just havent gotten it done.
I think weve played some good football teams away from here and got teams who played extremely well against us away from here. Again, we havent played as well as we need to, thats for sure.
Translation: Other than the particulars of the defeats, Beamer doesnt know why his program is suddenly struggling. But he better figure it out soon, or thoughts of a spot in the ACC title game will seem foolish and a spot in a bowl game could be lost.
It isnt that Boston College can be overwhelming. The 2-8 Eagles have many issues on both sides of the ball, but they did play Notre Dame tough this past weekend (21-6 loss), and if they have anything left for the Hokies they could contradict Virginia Techs plans for these final two weekends of the season.
And that would close the door on a streak has seen the program grow from a southern independent that played in a 42,000-seat stadium to a national entity in a much larger facility known for the fans rabidness, noise and one of the great homefield advantages in the nation.
Prior to the bowl streak, Virginia Tech had played in just six postseason games, but by the 1995 season, the Hokies reached the Sugar Bowl, and in 1999 they played for the national championship. During the life of the streak, Virginia Tech has competed in eight major bowls versus the likes of Texas, Nebraska, Alabama, Florida State, Auburn, Georgia and Michigan, among others.
This year, the Hokies will take any bowl versus any opponent.
To make that happen, they must leave Chestnut Hill with a victory before returning home to take on suddenly-hot Virginia, which hosts North Carolina on Thursday night. Seeing how the Cavaliers beat N.C. State 33-6 on the road and came from behind to knock off Miami, 41-40, this past weekend, its fair to say the Wahoos are playing better football right now than the Hokies.
So keeping his players from viewing these final contests lumped together must be one of Beamers great tasks right now.
I think when you play at this level you have to be able to handle pressure, and right now. ... we have to win the next two to be bowl eligible. Its very clear what we have to do.
The Hokies have their mandate, how will they handle it?