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Double trouble for title hopes

It's all over.

The string of streaks _ 39 regular-season wins (second longest in NCAA history) and 27 Big East wins _ ended with a resounding thud as Miami fell 31-7 to Virginia Tech on Saturday night at Lane Stadium.

Despite appearances to the contrary, Miami's season isn't over. The Hurricanes (7-1, 3-1) could wind up playing for the national championship, though those hopes are out of their hands as they are one of numerous one-loss teams. But if history is any indication, it will be an uphill battle as late season losses hurt more.

"The win streak is gone," coach Larry Coker said Sunday. "I don't think any of us as coaches or players really think about the win streak. It's a great accomplishment, but now it's over."

Miami, which dropped from second to sixth in the Associated Press Top 25 and to seventh in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll, isn't even a shoo-in to win its last Big East title with three conference games remaining, including a season-ending game at Pittsburgh (3-0 in the conference).

"It's a huge loss," Coker said. "A league loss so it's a double negative for us."

What's more sobering than the fact the 'Canes won't run the table is that they were exposed in many areas. And they don't have much time to work on anything with No. 18 Tennessee visiting the Orange Bowl on Saturday.

"We don't control our own destiny," Coker said. "We've had that luxury for the last two years. But we do know this: There are not a lot of undefeated teams out there."

BERLIN TO START VS. VOLS: Miami seemingly handed the game to the Hokies (7-1, 3-1) as it self-destructed. Brock Berlin threw two interceptions, one that was returned 51 yards for a score by cornerback Eric Green and another that led to a Tech TD. On both he was pressured and, instead of taking the sack, tossed up the balls for grabs _ reminiscent of Kenny Kelly on the same field in Miami's last conference loss Nov. 13, 1999.

After throwing for nine TDs against 12 interceptions, the call for Derrick Crudup likely will be loud, though Coker said Berlin will start against the Vols. Berlin has one turnover-free game this season.

"We knew if we got pressure on him we probably could make him fold," said Green, whose interception return for a touchdown sparked Virginia Tech's 21-point third quarter. "We knew that he wasn't really a good quarterback throwing on the run."

Coker said: "We're not going to have a quarterback change. Nothing warrants that."

THE BLAME GAME: It would be wrong to put all the blame on Berlin. Receiver Roscoe Parrish let DeAngelo Hall steal the ball from him and return it for the game's first score. Miami's protection unit allowed Green to get free and block a Jon Peattie field goal. Tight end Kevin Everett, one of the players who missed Green, dropped an apparent touchdown pass from Matt Carter on a field-goal fake. Brian Monroe shanked punts and looked like a true freshman playing in a big road game, with kicks of 11 and 23 yards in the third quarter. Tight end Kellen Winslow had only 48 yards on eight catches.

And UM allowed quarterback Marcus Vick and tailback Kevin Jones to run with so much success the Hokies didn't need to pass, throwing for 44 yards. Miami held the Hokies to 2-for-12 on third-down conversions, but allowed 175 yards rushing.

"It just killed us," Coker said. "We gave Virginia Tech 21 points off turnovers. We never gave ourselves a chance to win."

_ MICHAEL SNYDER, TIMES WIRES

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