As Boise State QB Kellen Moore knelt in victory formation to seal the Broncos' triumph at FedEx Field, the scoreboard's triple zeros and 33-30 final result represented Virginia Tech's latest failed attempt to topple a national football power in front of a national audience.
One angle to the events of this Labor Day evening is to emphasize the speed, size, physicality, and discipline of a Boise State team that is well on its way to powerhouse status built on show-and-prove victories like this one. However, across the gridiron stood a devastated Virginia Tech squad that has become all too familiar with this brand of defeat: a commendable effort against a high-profile opponent that ends just short of victory.
Jan. 4, 2000 - FSU 46, Tech 29.
Aug. 28, 2004 - USC 24, Tech 13.
Sep. 5, 2009 - Alabama 34, Tech 24.
Sep. 6, 2010 - Boise State 33, Tech not enough.
Virginia Tech QB Tyrod Taylor's electric performance was not enough to carry his team past the stigma of being good, but just not good enough. For a fleeting moment with just over three minutes of game time left and the ball in Taylor's hands, the Hokies had a chance to plant the dagger in Boise State and vanquish the perception of not being able to win the big game. Despite the Hokies' valiant efforts, the perception remains.
While Monday night's loss can be attributed to head-shaking special teams blunders, questionable officiating, and an inexperienced, paper-thin secondary, the disappointment reaches far further than starting the season 0-1. The loss was a squandered opportunity to shatter Tech's label as a respectable darkhorse and to join the elite programs of college football. Despite being Vegas underdogs and holding a lower ranking than their opponent, the Hokies were more than capable of victory over the Broncos. Overcoming the 0-17 deficit and clinging to a late fourth quarter lead further compounded the fact that victory was well within grasp, but as history has shown, the win was wrestled away with a moment's notice.
Elite teams will find a way to win these epic matchups. In order to join the elite, Virginia Tech must find a way to win this caliber of contest.