Virginia Tech has tough tests upcoming

Updated: October 5, 2003, 2:55 PM ET

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Virginia Tech is going to find out over the next month whether it can walk away from its final Big East season with a title.

The fourth-ranked Hokies (5-0, 1-0) tuned up for the heart of their conference schedule with an impressive 48-22 win over Rutgers on Saturday.

On the horizon for Virginia Tech are Syracuse, West Virginia, Miami and Pittsburgh, which all beat the Hokies last season.

"We've got some teams that knocked us off last year," Hokies quarterback Bryan Randall said. "But we're a different team this year."

Actually Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said the Hokies can vary from quarter to quarter, something they can't afford to do against Syracuse.

In the last two games, Virginia Tech showed the ability to score quickly. They also showed lapses, like Saturday when they gave up two fourth-quarter touchdowns to Rutgers (3-2, 0-1) in an 18-second span.

"Sometimes we do things as good as we have ever done them at Virginia Tech," Beamer said. "At other times, I scratch my head a little bit. The good part is if you can do it one time, you can do it every time."

After turning the ball over on the first punt of the game, the Hokies mounted scoring drives of 81, 53, 63 and 58 yards on its next four possessions. The combined drives needed only 22 plays and covered roughly eight minutes.

"When we're on, it's clicking. It's tough to stop us," said senior receiver Chris Shreve, who caught touchdown passes of 28 and 45 yards in his first start. "We just need to smooth it out so we are doing it all the time."

Randall was outstanding in running the show. He was 16-for-22 for 250 yards and four touchdowns, with the other two TDs going to Mike Imoh.

"I thought he was good in every way," Beamer said of Randall. "He was steady as a rock."

Kevin Jones also ran for 118 yards and a touchdown for the Hokies, who will join the ACC next season along with Miami.

The Hokies also intercepted Rutgers quarterback Ryan Hart four times, with safety Jimmy Williams scoring on a 55-yard return in the closing seconds of the first half.

Rutgers isn't going to miss playing them after being outscored 182-36 in the last four games.

"They've got playmakers on that team," linebacker William Beckford said after the Scarlet Knights lost their 23rd straight game in the conference. "This is a learning experience for us. We can't lower our heads and just say they beat us. That's a great team and we have to learn from it."

Rutgers came into this game looking for its first 4-1 start since 1991, and to show critics it was ready to take a step toward its first winning season since 1992.

Virginia Tech linebacker Jonathan Lewis thought Rutgers had improved over last year.

"They're running to the ball and sticking to their game plan instead of scurrying around and doing other things," Lewis said. "That's made them a lot better and it's going to make them a tougher team down the road."

Rutgers will play at West Virginia on Saturday.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index