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Is Lane Stadium truly one of the best home field advantages in college football? Do good teams really have trouble winning in the place Corey Moore dubbed “The Terror Dome”? Let’s take a look at how the Hokies have done at home since 2001 against teams who finished the season with winning records.
Back in 2001, the Hokies got off to a good start at home against teams that finished with a winning record. The Hokies knocked off 6-5 Central Florida in September 46-14, and later beat 8-4 Boston College 34-20 on a Thursday night. But Virginia Tech closed out the 2001 season by dropping a 22-14 game to 10-3 Syracuse, and lost a nail-biter to #1 Miami 26-24. They finished the year 2-2 against winning teams at home.
The 2002 season also started out very well. The Hokies knocked off a highly-touted LSU team 26-8 in the second week of the season. ESPN analyst Lee Corso had picked the Tigers to win the National Championship that season. LSU went on to go 8-5, but that would have been a much better mark if their starting quarterback didn’t miss most of the season with an injury (he played against the Hokies). Tech followed that up with a 47-21 thrashing of a Marshall team led by Byron Leftwich. The Thundering Herd finished the season 11-2.
Unfortunately, things went downhill at home later in the season, losing two consecutive games in Lane to Pitt (9-4) and WVU (9-4). They rallied to knocked off UVA (9-5) on Senior Day to go 3-2 at home against teams with winning records.
The 2003 season was filled with low points and high points in Lane Stadium. Tech blew out 9-3 UConn 47-13 and later achieved one of the program’s greatest wins with a 31-7 rout of #2 Miami on November 1. But then the infamous 2003 meltdown began, and the Hokies wound up losing at home to Boston College 34-27 on Senior Day. The Eagles finished the year 8-5, and Tech was 2-1 at home against teams with winning records.
The 2004 Hokies, despite losing a home game, were undefeated at home against teams with winning records. They knocked off West Virginia (8-4) 19-13 when the Mountaineers were ranked in the top 10. Later in the season Tech pulled off a come-from-behind 24-10 victory over in-state rival UVA (8-4). Those were the only two teams with a winning record that the Hokies played in Lane Stadium that season. Their lone loss came to N.C. State, who finished 5-6 on the season.
In 2005, Virginia Tech played three teams with a winning record at home and went 2-1 in those games. The first win came in late September, when the Hokies blasted Georgia Tech (7-5) 51-7. It was a huge win for the Hokies, with College Gameday in town, and the stereotypical woodshed beating and snowball effect that is associated with Lane Stadium.
The Hokies hosted 9-3 Boston College on a Thursday night later in the season and came away with a relatively easy 30-10 victory. But things went south the very next week when the Hokies were beaten soundly 27-7 by Miami in the biggest game of the season. Tech went 2-1 at home against teams with winning records in 2005, but the Miami game certainly left a sour taste in everyone’s mouth.
So far this season, Virginia Tech has lost their only home game against an opponent that is projected to finish with a winning record (Georgia Tech).
That puts Virginia Tech’s record at home against teams with a winning record at 11-7 since 2001. If you count only BCS conference teams and throw out UCF, Marshall and UConn, then the Hokies are just 8-7. Not to mention that Virginia Tech lost to a 5-6 NC State team in 2004, the season the Hokies won the ACC Championship! These numbers aren’t pointing to a team that is as strong at home as the hype would have you believe.
In Tech’s seven losses against teams with winning records, the Hokies are losing by an averaged of 8.14 points per game. That average is driven up by the last two losses, by 20 to Miami in 2005, and by 11 to Georgia Tech in 2006.
So the Hokies have a winning record at home against winning teams, but the number (11-7 or 8-7, depending on whether you count the non-BCS schools) is not that impressive. For a stadium that is rated one of the toughest places to play in college football by almost everybody, you’d think that the Hokies would have a higher winning percentage.
The Hokies have lost some squeakers in Lane by margins of 8, 2, 8, 3 and 6. Playing at home with such a hostile crowd, the Hokies should have been able to pull off some of those out. Also, games against Miami (27-7) and Georgia Tech (38-13 at one point) should have been closer.
The strange part is that Virginia Tech hasn’t played very well at home since the stadium was expanded prior to the 2002 season, losing big games to Pitt, West Virginia, Boston College, NC State, Miami and Georgia Tech. Odd results for one of the greatest atmospheres in college football.
Think you know the reason for the Hokies’ struggles at home? Talk about it on the TSL message boards! Next week we’ll take a look at how the Hokies fare against good teams on the road.
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