Football en route to Virginia Tech

For the fourth time this season, Florida A&M will have a chance Saturday to upset a Division I-A team.

However, they’re not playing a run of the mill Division I-A team like Illinois, Tulane or Temple. And it won’t be an ordinary game.

In Blacksburg, Va., at Lane Stadium at 1 p.m., the Rattlers are set to face Virginia Tech, who received more votes than any other non-ranked team for this week’s ESPN/USA Today Top 25 Coaches Poll. These are the same Hokies (4-2) that beat No. 16 West Virginia Oct. 2, obliterated Division I-A Western Michigan 63-0 Sept. 11 and lost to No. 1 Southern California Aug. 28 by only 11 points.

The Hokies won’t need any lighter fluid to get them fired up for the Rattlers because it’s their homecoming – a must win big type of scenario.

Because of these outrageous odds, FAMU (2-4) head coach Billy Joe said his team has nothing to lose.

“We don’t even have the game to lose because in most people’s minds we’ve already lost it,” Joe said. “And we can’t lose to them twice. So we’re going to have a lot of fun and we’re going to get a big check and come on back to Tallahassee.”

Even though the Rattlers will have a huge challenge on their hands, during this season it has seemed like the harder the test, the better they’ve played.

“We’ve played a lot better against Division I-A teams, than we have against other Division I-AA or Division II programs,” Joe said. “I’m hoping that trend will continue. I’m hopeful that we will go up there and play an unbelievable game because we’re playing an unbelievable team.”

Joe said he had to take a serious look at his special teams this week after their atrocious outing in the Rattlers huge loss to Nicholls State a week ago.

And even though the Hokies are known under head coach Frank Beamer for having excellent special teams play, he decided not to make any drastic changes.

“We just wanted to polish up our game and get our timing and our rhythm down,” Joe said. “And then travel up to Blacksburg and play error-free football.”

Senior quarterback Ben Dougherty will lead the Rattlers’ offense against a stingy Hokies defense that has allowed only 13.5 points per game this season.

“They will be definitely the best defense we’ve faced all year – there is no question about that,” said Dougherty, as FAMU’s passing game ranks seventh in Division I-AA. “But we still feel like we can move the ball against Virginia Tech.”

On offense, the Hokies will feature the versatile Bryan Randall, who if history’s an indicator, should cause problems for FAMU with his feet more than his arm.

But if freshman linebacker Tyrone McGriff, echoing Joe, is speaking for the defense, the Hokies may have a tougher time scoring then they think.

“We have everything to gain and nothing to lose, so we can put it all on the line,” McGriff said. “And I think we can give them all they can handle.”

Contact Ibram Rogers at