Crunch Time Hurricanes’ road to the Sugar Bowl goes through Blacksburg

This Saturday, the No. 2 and No. 3 football teams in the nation, both undefeated and competing for the ultimate prize, will clash at Lane Stadium in a small town located in…wait…never mind.

Virginia Tech already ruined what could have been the most important game of the season by losing to West Virginia last week.

The hype has faded a bit, but this game will still have an impact on the BCS race and Big East Championship.

“[Virginia] Tech’s season is on the line with us,” Head Coach Larry Coker said. “For them to be where they want to be, they can still be a one-loss team, they can still win this league, and they can still go to a BCS bowl game…that’s what we’ve got to deal with.”

The ‘Canes sit at No. 2 in the polls and control their own destiny. If they win their final five games, they will be packing for New Orleans. However, being No. 2 means that every team with only one loss will keep an eye on the scoreboard during their games.

“We’re in a position right now…we win the games and we’re right where we want to be,” Coker said. “We have tough games five weeks in a row.”

Virginia Tech lost the luxury of controlling their fate when they fell asleep on West Virginia, but the UM players believe that the loss may fuel the Hokies fire. Although getting to the Sugar Bowl looks doubtful because of their weak schedule, the Hokies could help their title hopes considerably by taking down the ‘Canes.

“They got knocked off by West Virginia last week and they’re coming out to destroy us,” wide receiver Sinorice Moss said. “It’s going to be a dog fight to the end.”

The main weapons in V-Tech’s arsenal are duel-threat quarterback Bryan Randall and powerful running back Kevin Jones.

In last year’s contest, Miami held Jones to one yard on four carries while he shared time with Lee Suggs, but Randall burned the ‘Canes’ defense for 132 yards rushing and 165 yards passing.

Defensive end Baraka Atkins will play an important role in stopping the duo of Randall and Jones and realizes the dangers of a savvy quarterback.

“We’re going to have to contain him because he has the ability to run with the football as well as throw it,” he said. “We just have to keep as much pressure as we can on him.”

The return of safety Sean Taylor, who had minor shoulder surgery after the FSU game, will help the team tremendously.

“He’s a linebacker with defensive back skills and he’s a terrific tackler,” Coker said. “If you’re calling the plays, you don’t really like your odds with your quarterback on Sean Taylor.”

Another player who missed the Temple game, wide receiver and punt returner Roscoe Parrish, will return after a crushing hit caused him to have internal bleeding in Tallahassee.

Parrish’s ears might bleed as well this week because the fans in Blacksburg are known to be rowdy and the noise in Lane Stadium can hit high levels. The crowd and possible cold weather could give the Hokies an advantage, but Coker knows his team can handle the adversity of tough crowds and inclement weather after they dominated FSU in a rain filled slop fest at Doak Campbell Stadium.

“It’s going to be cold,” Coker said. “The team that handles (that) the best probably has a very good chance to win.”