This game goes down on the ESPN network and it features the Stanford University Cardinal taking on Virginia Tech Hokies in the 77th annual Discover Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.
Stanford, 11-1, 8-1 Pac-10, Cardinal established new school records for wins on the seasons and within conference as well as making their first trip to the Orange Bowl. Head coach Jim Harbaugh has a well balanced team but a stud under center in junior quarterback Andrew Luck. The Stanford offense he controls has been unstoppable tallying 40 points per game as he completes 70.2 percent of his throws for 3,051 yards and 28 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. Luck also tucked the ball at times and rushed for 438 yards with 3 touchdowns. Luck’s favorite target is Doug Baldwin, who caught 56 passes for 824 yards and 9 touchdowns.
Luck is not the only one to benefit in Harbaugh’s pro style offense as tailback Stepfan Taylor has eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark this year, averaging almost 5 ypc, while scoring 15 touchdowns. In college football it’s hard press to find a better offensive line week-in-week-out than Stanford’s which is headlined by First-Team All-American center Chase Beeler.
Virginia Tech, 11-2, 8-0 ACC, Hokies are making their fourth trip to the Orange Bowl, but it didn’t look remotely possible early on in the season when the team dropped its first two games of the 2010 season, falling to Boise State and then to Division II opponent James Madison. Head coach Frank Beamer rallied the team as Tech went on to win 11 straight games, closing out with a win over Florida State in the ACC Championship Game.
The Hokies are balanced offensively like Stanford and have a quarterback who deserves shine just like Luck in Tyrod Taylor, who completed 60.6 percent of his throws for 2,521 yards with 23 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. He too is a dual threat to run the ball as he has rushed for 637 yards and 5 touchdowns.
The Hokies backfield is stocked with talented runners that contributed this year, led by Darren Evans 817 yards and 11 touchdowns followed by David Wilson 616 yards 5 touchdowns. Ryan Williams added 473 yards on the season but also crossed the end zone 9 times.
Wideouts to keep on eye in the Hokies offense is Jarrett Boykin, 763 yards 6 touchdowns and Danny Coale, 640 yards 3 touchdowns.
This marks the first ever meeting between these two schools.
PICK: Stanford University Cardinal
This game goes down on the ESPN network and it features Florida State University Seminoles taking on Virginia Tech Hokies in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Frank Beamer’s Hokies opened the year with two straight losses. The first was a hard-fought setback to top-five foe Boise State, but the second was an unforgivable loss to Division II James Madison. Beamer was able to rally the team and ran the table with 10 straight wins and a flawless 8-0 ACC slate to earn a spot in the conference title game. It is the 10th time in the last 12 seasons that Tech has recorded 10 or more victories and this represents the Hokies fourth trip to the ACC Championship Game.
There is no secret to Virginia Tech’s offensive gameplan week-in and week-out, as they like to impose their will on an opponent with their ground assault. The team has certainly done well in that area this season, averaging 211.4 yards per game rushing on 5.1 yards per carry. While the backfield has a number of quality backs in Darren Evans, 748 yards, 10 TDs, David Wilson, 573 yards, 5 TDs, and Ryan Williams, 428 yards, 9 TDs, it is the play of quarterback Tyrod Taylor which has stood out the most.
Taylor earned All-ACC First-Team honors this season for his outstanding play as a rusher, 613 yards, 4 TDs, but more so for his play as a passer, where he has completed 60.2 percent of his throws for 2,258 yards, with 20 TDs and just 4 INTs. Wideout Jarrett Boykin has been the top recipient of Taylor’s improved play under center, hauling in 45 balls, for 728 yards and 5 TDs.
The Tech defense has had its problems with the run this year, 156.9 ypg, 13 rushing TDs allowed. However if an opponent is forced to pass the ball, the Hokies have recorded 32 sacks and 20 interceptions.
Despite being under new leadership in Jimbo Fisher, the Seminoles began the season with high hopes, thanks to a veteran signal caller and a strong defense. Well, the Seminoles didn’t need to rely solely on the play under center, but instead got back to running the football and the result has been a nine-win season to this point, including a 6-2 mark in-conference. The team enters this contest with three straight wins, including an impressive victory over Florida last weekend (31-7). The Seminoles needed some help elsewhere down the stretch but got it, landing them in the championship game, where they will vie for their 13th league title in 19 years as a member of the conference.
Florida State has put itself in a position to earn a BCS Bowl bid thanks to a balanced offensive attack that is generating 390.8 yards of offense. The rushing attack has been productive averaging 177.4 yards per game on 5.0 yards per carry. It is not one workhorse back doing the majority of the damage, but rather a collective effort from tailbacks like Chris Thompson, 686 yards, 6.8 ypc, 5 TDs, Ty Jones, 496 yards, 6.4 ypc, 2 TDs, and Jermaine Thomas, 484 yards, 5.7 ypc, 6 TDs.
The ground game has taken some of the pressure off of Christian Ponder under center as he’s been completing 62.2 percent of his throw for 2,038 yards and 20 TDs. The receiving corps is talented and can make plays when FSU does get vertical like wideout Bert Reed 547 yards, 2 TDs and Willie Haulstead 500 yards, 6 TDs.
The Florida State defense has made strides toward being one of the conference’s most feared units again, as the team is allowing just 17 ppg this year, while yielding 341.3 yards of total offense.
Florida State holds a 22-11-1 advantage in the all-time series and has won 13 of the last 14 meetings, overall.
PICK: Virginia Tech Hokies
This game goes down on the ESPN network and it features Boise State University Broncos taking on the Virginia Tech Hokies at FedEx Field for the first-ever meeting between these two schools.
Broncos head coach Chris Petersen has built a winning program at Boise State amassing a 49-4 record in his four seasons, including leading the Broncos to 26 wins in their last 27 games. Last year Boise State finished first in the WAC and 14-0 overall to become just the second team in NCAA history to record a 14-0 season. They capped off last season with 17-10 win over TCU in the Fiesta Bowl.
Boise State returns all but one starter but the prize of the Broncos is star junior quarterback Kellen Moore, 3,536 yards 39 touchdowns 3 INTS, who ranked second in the nation last year in pass efficiency at 161.65 percent. Even more impressive is the fact that Moore attempted 431 passes a year ago and had just three interceptions, setting a new NCAA record for the lowest percentage of passes (0.69) picked off.
Moore will once again be connecting with wide receives Austin Pettis, 63 receptions 855 yards and 14 touchdowns, Titus Young, 79 receptions 1,041 yards and 10 touchdowns. Senior Jeremy Avery, 1,151 yards 6 touchdowns, will again be the primary ball carrier, but a healthy D.J. Harper will only further enhance a strong ground game that netted 186.1 yards per game in 2009.
Boise State is not just an offensive team but are sound defensively too when they lead the WAC and 14th in the nation in holding opponents to an average of 17 points. Leading the way on the defensive line is defensive end Ryan Winterswyk, 17 tackles for loss, 9 sacks. Winterswyk is joined on the line by Billy Winn, 12.5 tackles for loss and 6 sacks.
Virginia Tech finished last season 10-3 and 6-2 in the ACC. It was capped of by a 37-14 win over Tennessee in the Chik-fil-A Bowl. Frank Beamer’s Hokies though have lost seven starters from that squad that finished second in the ACC. The Hokies have a dynamic offense centered around senior quarterback Tyrod Taylor, 2,311 yards 13 touchdowns 5 INTS and rushed for 370 yards 5 touchdowns in his first full season as starter.
Virginia Tech’s offensive will also bring back running backs Ryan Williams, 1,655 yards and 21 touchdowns, Darren Evans the 2008 ACC Freshman of the Year is ready to return after being lost to a knee injury last year before the season even started. Williams captalized on his opportunity and brok the ACC freshman yardage record Evans set in 2008.
The Hokies don’t throw the ball much and barely nothing compared to Boise State. However Taylor has his top three targets back in Jarrett Boykin, 835 yards 5 touchdowns, Danny Coale, 614 yards 2 touchdowns, and Dyrell Roberts, 390 yards.
Bud Fosters defense limited opponents to 15 ppg, on just 295.5 yards of total offense but returns only five starters from that unit this season. The defense is lead by junior linebacker Barquell Rivers, 96 tackles 6.5 tackles for loss and defensive back Rashad Carmichael, 6 INTS, who is one of the best cover corners in all of the nation.
PICK: Boise State University Broncos
The 42nd Chick-fil-A Bowl will see Virginia Tech Hokies from the ACC take on the Tennessee Volunteers from the SEC at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
Virginia Tech is hoping to clinch a 10-win season for the sixth consecutive year, and that would be a tremendous accomplishment to say the least. The team is 9-3 overall this season, including a 5-2 mark against ACC competition. The Hokies are just 8-14 all-time in bowl games, and head coach Frank Beamer is 7-9 in bowl games after winning last years Orange Bowl.
Virginia Tech is led by standout freshman tailback Ryan Williams, who has run for a school and ACC freshman record 1,538 yards this season. He needs 110 yards against Tennessee to break the school’s single-season rushing record set by Kevin Jones in 2003. Williams has 20 total touchdowns, including 19 rushing scores. The Hokies are generating 31 ppg on the strength of 388.3 total ypg. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor has connected on 55.8 percent of his throws for 2,102 yards and 13 touchdowns against 4 interceptions and rushed for 344 yards and 4 scores. Jarrett Boykin paces the club with 36 catches for 715 yards and 5 touchdowns.
Virginia Tech’s defense is limiting opponents to 15 ppg and 300.1 total ypg. Opposing quarterbacks have completed fewer than 50 percent of their passes against Tech, which has permitted a mere 8 touchdowns through the air and 9 rushing scores have been allowed. Cody Grimm has recorded 99 total tackles and forced 7 fumbles.
Tennessee owns a 25-22 all-time record in bowl games and is playing in the Chick-fil-A Bowl for the fifth time in school history and first since back-to-back appearances following the 2002 and 2003 seasons. The Vols are 1-3 in the Atlanta-based bowl, and they enter this game with a 7-5 overall record and 4-4 in the SEC.
Lane Kiffin’s Volunteers are scoring 30 ppg this season while generating 395.4 total ypg. Jonathan Crompton passed for 2,565 yards and 26 touchdowns while Gerald Jones caught 41 passes for 610 yards. Denarius Moore has 6 receiving touchdowns. Tennessee has a true workhorse back in Montario Hardesty, who has rushed for 1,306 yards and 12 touchdowns, carrying the ball 264 times.
On the defensive side of the ball, Tennessee is holding opponents to 21.0 ppg and 308.8 total ypg. The Vols have been outstanding against the pass, yielding a mere 9.5 yards per completion and just 5 touchdowns have been registered by opposing quarterbacks. Rico McCoy is a hard-hitting linebacker for the Vols, and he has made a team- high 112 tackles this season to go along with 5 forced fumbles. ALL-SGE-NCAA Football Team member Eric Berry is an outstanding safety that is the active NCAA leader and stands second in NCAA history with 494 interception return yards.
Tennessee owns a 5-2 lead over Virginia Tech in a series that dates back to 1896. The most recent meeting took place in 1994, a 45-23 triumph by the Vols.
PICK: University of Tennessee Volunteers
Trying to avoid their first three-game losing streak in six years, the visiting Virginia Tech Hokies look to avenge a rare loss to the Pirates in a non-conference matchup.
On Oct. 10, Virginia Tech (5-3) beat Boston College 48-14 for its fifth straight win to remain in the national championship picture. However, after losing 28-23 at Georgia Tech and being upset 20-17 at home by North Carolina last Thursday, the Hokies are looking for motivation with their national title hopes dashed and ACC championship game chances suddenly slim.
Virginia Tech hasn’t lost three in a row since dropping its final two regular-season games and falling 52-49 to California in the 2003 Insight Bowl. The Hokies were 5-3 at this point last year and went on to win five of six to finish 10-4. The memory of last season’s 27-22 upset loss to East Carolina in Charlotte, N. C., could provide a spark.
The Hokies had won six straight in the series, but the Pirates returned a blocked punt 27 yards for a touchdown with 1:52 left to stun Virginia Tech in its season opener. Though Virginia Tech leads the series 9-5, it should again be in for a challenge while making its first visit to Greenville since a 45-28 win Sept. 7, 2000.
Virginia Tech couldn’t hold a 14-0 lead against the Pirates last year and failed to keep a late three-point, fourth-quarter lead against North Carolina last week. Ryan Williams’ fumble led to the Tar Heels’ game-winning field goal as time expired and dropped the Hokies to 3-2 in the ACC. Williams a freshman who’s rushed for 930 yards and 10 TDs.
Quarterback Tyrod Taylor was sacked three times and did not throw a touchdown pass last Thursday after tossing at least one in six straight games and five over his previous three contests. Virginia Tech was held to 256 yards – its fewest since totaling 155 in a season-opening loss to Alabama. Defensively, Frank Beamer Hokies allowed 181 yards on the ground after giving up a season-high 309 against Georgia Tech. Virginia Tech allows 154.1 rushing yards per contest.
East Carolina (5-3) rushed for 158 yards against Virginia Tech last season and a season-high 275 in a 38-19 win at Memphis last Tuesday. Skip Holtz’s Pirates, first in Conference USA’s East Division, average 149.4 yards on the ground.
Dominique Lindsay rushed 22 times for 139 yards and Patrick Pinkney threw for 216 yards and a touchdown while running for two more scores as East Carolina won for the fourth time in five games. Pinkney was 19 of 23 for 211 yards with a touchdown through the air and one on the ground against Virginia Tech last season.
East Carolina’s 31-17 loss at North Carolina on Sept. 19 snapped a three-game winning streak against ranked opponents.
PICK: East Carolina University Pirates
Virginia Tech’s have a chance to reach a third straight ACC title game, meanwhile North Carolina may be hard-pressed to even make a bowl game. The Hokies look to bounce back from their first conference loss when they host the Tar Heels, who are still seeking a league win after tumbling from their preseason Top 25 ranking.
Virginia Tech (5-2, 3-1) lost its season opener to Alabama but looked like a possible BCS title contender in winning five in a row from there, including a 31-7 rout of Miami on Sept. 26. Then they lost a showdown at Georgia Tech on Oct. 17, losing 28-23. Virginia Tech held its previous three opponents to 142 yards rushing, but the spread-option offense of the Yellow Jackets had 309 yards and four touchdowns on the ground.
Coach Frank Beamers Hokies are one of four teams in the ACC Coastal Division with one loss, joining Duke, Virginia and Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets already have played six conference games, meaning the Hokies need an upset by either Wake Forest or Duke if they’re to have any chance of reaching Tampa on Dec. 5 to play for a third consecutive conference title.
Tyrod Taylor the junior quarterback is fourth nationally in passer rating (159.7) and had one interception all season before throwing two against Georgia Tech. Taylor has averaged 204.0 yards through the air in his past three games with five touchdown passes. Taylor’s job has been made easier by the emergence of redshirt freshman tailback Ryan Williams, who has rushed for 100 yards or more in five of the Hokies’ past six games.
The Tar Heels (4-3, 0-3), who have the nation’s seventh-ranked defense but have lost three of four. Butch Davis Tar Heels averaged 164.0 yards and totaled 10 points in losses to Georgia Tech and Virginia, then looked sloppy again in a 42-12 victory over Georgia Southern. The offense was much better last Thursday against Florida State, totaling 333 yards – 238 on the ground – but the Tar Heels blew an 18-point lead in the second half to lose 30-27.
It’s been the offense that’s burned the Tar Heels in their meetings against Virginia Tech since the Hokies joined the ACC. They’ve averaged 274.6 yards and 12.8 points in losing all five matchups.
Last season, however, Virginia Tech needed to rally to beat North Carolina 20-17 in Chapel Hill. Tar Heels quarterback T.J. Yates was 11 of 18 for 181 yards and a touchdown while Taylor threw for 125 yards and two interceptions, but Yates got hurt early in the fourth quarter and backup Mike Paulus’ two INTs helped the Hokies come back to win. Yates, who threw four interceptions in seven games last season as a sophomore, already has eight this year.
North Carolina hasn’t beaten a ranked opponent on the road since a 38-3 win at Clemson on Oct. 20, 2001.
PICK: Virgina Tech Hokies
Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech have two of the most potent offenses in the ACC, but with an edge in the Coastal Division at stake, both are focused on defense this week. The Hokies visit the Yellow Jackets, looking to knock off their third ranked opponent of the season.
Virginia Tech (5-1, 3-0) and Georgia Tech (5-1, 3-1) have each put up big offensive numbers this season, with the Hokies scoring a conference-leading 34.2 points per game, while the Yellow Jackets are averaging an ACC-best 426.7 total yards of offense.
Virginia Tech seems to have a lot fewer question marks, though, after it routed Boston College 48-14 for its fifth straight win. The Hokies outgained the Eagles 441-163 in total offense, and led 34-0 at the half. Tyrod Taylor passed for 126 yards and two touchdowns and backup quarterback Ju-Ju Clayton added another score.
Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson being impressed with the Hokies defense is hoping for his team to emulate Virginia Tech’s defense. Although their offenses may be evenly matched, the Hokies and Yellow Jackets’ defenses are anything but.
Georgia Tech is giving up the third-most yardage in the ACC (385.2), and is allowing 26.5 points per game – fourth-most. Virginia Tech, meanwhile, has the conference’s second-best scoring defense (17.7).
Johnson has been able to rely on big plays from quarterback Josh Nesbitt, who passed for 131 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 140 yards and three scores. Nesbitt has thrown four touchdowns and run for six, and he began the week second in the country among quarterbacks with 503 yards rushing.
Led by Jonathan Dwyer and Nesbitt, Georgia Tech is first in the conference with 227.0 yards on the ground. Virginia Tech is second with 208.5 behind Ryan Williams, the ACC’s leading rusher. Williams, who ran for 159 yards and a touchdown, has carried the bulk of the work on offense, rushing for nine touchdowns this year. Coach Frank Beamer, though, continues to praise and credit the team’s success to Taylor.
Taylor hasn’t put up eye-popping numbers this season, and attempted only 10 passes against the Eagles, but he led scoring drives of 68, 74 and 80 yards in the win. He also continues to get better with his mobility. He’s been sacked three times in the last three games after defenses tallied 11 sacks against him in the first three contests. Beamer, Taylor and the Hokies will be looking for their third victory over a ranked opponent in what figures to be a high-scoring game.
Virginia Tech has won four of six meetings against Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets haven’t beaten the Hokies at home since 1990.
PICK: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
The University of Alabama conclusion to it’s football season was a major disappointment for Nick Saban’s team. The Crimson Tide hopes to start erasing those memories by getting off to a good start Saturday night at the Georgia Dome, where Virginia Tech looks to justify the highest preseason ranking in school history.
Sophomore receiver Julio Jones is the Tide’s biggest star, but their focal point remains a defense which was third in the nation overall (263.5 yards per game) and seventh in scoring (14.3 points per game) last season. Eight starters return to the defensive side of the ball, including tackle Terrence Cody and linebacker Rolando McClain who are both All-Americans. Corner back Javier Arenas anchors the secondary. Defensive end starter Brandon Deaderick was shot in the arm Monday during a robbery attempt, an injury that leaves his playing status in question..
Virginia Tech (10-4) also will be missing a key player, Hokies tailback Darren Evans is lost for the season. The sophomore, who ran for 1,265 yards and 11 touchdowns last season, tore his ACL in preseason practice. Red-shirt freshman Ryan Williams is expected to start in the backfield.
Head coach Frank Beamer can take solace in the fact that, unlike Alabama, which will hand the reins to first-year starter Greg McElroy, his team can turn to an experienced quarterback in junior Tyrod Taylor. He threw two touchdown passes in 173 attempts last season but ran for seven scores. The Hokies are also backed by the best defensive coordinator in all of college football Bud Foster.
PICK: University of Alabama Crimson Tide