BLACKSBURG, Va., Dec. 1 (UPI) -- Virginia Tech's Ernest Wilford dropped a two-point conversion pass that would have tied the score and Miami's Edward Reed intercepted a pass minutes later to seal a 26-24 victory over the Hokies Saturday that put the No. 1 Hurricanes into college football's championship game.
The Hurricanes (11-0, 7-0 Big East), already on top of the Bowl Championship Series ratings, locked up a berth in the Rose Bowl, where the national title will be decided on Jan. 3. The trip to Pasadena will become official when the final BCS ratings are released Dec. 9.
The Hurricanes extended the nation's longest winning streak to 21 games, but they nearly squandered a big fourth-quarter lead and again sweated out a road victory over a Big East conference opponent.
Trailing by 16 points early in the fourth quarter, 13th-ranked Virginia Tech refused to fold, cutting the lead in half on a one-yard run by Jarrett Ferguson and a two-point conversion pass by Grant Noel.
Virginia Tech, ranked among the nation's best at special teams' play, then came up with a blocked punt by Eric Green and Brandon Manning returned it 22 yards for a score with 6:03 left, slicing the lead to 26-24.
Wilford, a 6-5 sophmore, appeared to have the two-point conversion in his sights when he stepped in front of a defender, but he let the pass from Noel slip through his hands.
The Hokies had one more chance when they took possession near midfield two minutes later, but star safety Reed made a diving interception of Noel, killing Virginia Tech's threat.
Three weeks ago, it was Reed who scored on a bizarre interception return that secured an 18-7 win at Boston College, the only other serious threat to Miami's undefeated season.
Virginia Tech (8-3, 4-3), which is headed the Gator Bowl against Florida State, was unable to overcome four interceptions and a fumble by Reed.
Miami's Ken Dorsey was efficient but not spectacular in his final opportunity to impress Heisman Trophy voters. He completed 21 of 44 passes for 235 yards, including a 14-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Shockey in the second quarter. Dorsey was not intercepted.
Clinton Portis of Miami carried 34 times for 124 yards, highlighted by a seven-yard touchdown run in the second quarter that gave the Hurricanes a 14-3 lead.
Miami overcame a huge game by Hokies freshman Kevin Jones, who carried 24 times for 160 yards. His 56-yard run in the third quarter was the longest allowed by Miami this season.