Orange Bowl Preview

Steve O Speak

A Guest Blog by Fanspeak Contributing Writer Brian Murphy

The 2011 Orange Bowl on January 3 will be one of the best of this bowl season.  It features two of the nation’s hottest teams and two of the best quarterbacks in college football.  Stanford is 11-1 with its only loss coming to Oregon in early October.  The Cardinal have won seven straight since.  ACC Champions Virginia Tech started the season 0-2 in five days and since have reeled off 11 straight wins and the nation’s 4th-largest active winning streak.

The quarterback match-up in this game is going to be highly entertaining and fun to watch.  Andrew Luck of Stanford, the Heisman runner-up, is projected by some to be the #1 overall NFL draft pick.  The junior has thrown for 3,051 yards with 28 TD’s and 7 INT’s.  Maybe the most underrated part of Luck’s game is his running ability as he has rushed for 438 yards and 3 TD’s.  Speaking of quarterbacks that can run, VT’s Tyrod Taylor has rushed for 637 yards and 5 TD’s, while throwing for 2,521 yards with 23 TD’s and only 4 INT’s.  Taylor is one of the most underrated players in the nation and would like nothing more than to prove the nation of his ability and how good the Hokies are on a national stage.

The defenses will definitely have their hands full with these two high-powered offenses.  In addition to Taylor’s talent, the Hokies have three great running backs to keep things rolling.  Ryan Williams was the main guy until hamstring injuries slowed him down this year, but he will look to run like the 1,655 yard, 21 TD freshman of last year.  Darren Evans has picked up most of the carries this year, running for 817 yards and 11 TD’s.  Keep an eye out for the electric, high-energy freshman David Wilson who is a deep threat from the RB and WR positions.  Stanford has one main RB who carries the brunt of the rushes named Stepfan Taylor (1,023 yards, 15 TD’s).  They also boast very talented WR’s in Baldwin, Whalen, Owusu, and Fleener.  The Hokies have two main WR’s in Jarrett Boykin and Danny Coale.

In terms of defense, Stanford has better overall numbers and have looked like one of the best in the nation.  The Cardinal defense is ranked 11th nationally in points against (17.8) and have given up 20+ points in only 4 games this season.  The Hokies always take pride in their defense under Bud Foster.  This year they have improved as the season progressed and are ranked 16th nationally in points against with 19.1.

The key to this game will be the time of possession for Virginia Tech.  If they can move the ball on the Cardinal defense efficiently while keeping Andrew Luck off the field, they have a shot.  Virginia Tech’s defense will have trouble slowing down Luck and the Cardinal offense, but will make the adjustments in the second half by their veteran coaching staff to keep the game close.  Not too many people are picking Virginia Tech in this one, but I am going with the underdog as they are making their 3rd Orange Bowl appearance in 4 years and is arguably the hottest team in college football right now.

Prediction: Stanford 31 Virginia Tech 34

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