Orange Bowl Preview: Stanford vs. Virginia Tech

2011 BCS Bowl Previews: BCS National Championship | Fiesta Bowl | Rose Bowl | Orange Bowl | Sugar Bowl

Date: Monday, January 3 2011
Time: 8:30PM ET

Why Watch: The Hokies became the first program in FBS history to win 11 straight games after starting their season 0-2. Frank Beamer’s squad could have folded after losing to FCS school James Madison but instead it rallied, winning 11 in a row in impressive fashion. VA Tech largely flew under the radar while knocking off ACC opponents with relative ease and then crushing Florida State in the conference championship game. Now the Hokies look to put a bow on their season with a win against arguably the best one-loss team in the nation. Stanford had one of the best seasons in school history, losing only to an undefeated Oregon team in early October. They have a Hesiman finalist at quarterback in Andrew Luck, who would probably go No. 1 in the NFL draft if he decides to go pro next season. The Cardinal also employs one of the hottest head coaches in the nation in Jim Harbaugh.

Game Facts Stanford is 9-11-1 all-time in bowl play and will be playing in the postseason for the second consecutive year following an eight-year absence. Oklahoma beat the Cardinal 31-27 in last year’s Sun Bowl. The Hokies will be playing in their fourth BCS bowl in the last seven seasons. They’re 9-14 all-time in bowl games and they’ll be making their 17th straight bowl appearance. Under Beamer, they’re 8-9 in bowl games, which includes 37-14 win over Tennessee in last year’s Chick-fil-A Bowl.

Key Player: Steven Friday, Virginia Tech.
They say the key to any good pass defense is a good pass rush and for Virginia Tech, that starts with Friday. The senior defensive end had 8.5 sacks to lead the Hokies this season. He’s incredibly quick off the edge and if he can harass quarterback Andrew Luck, the Hokies could slow down the possible No. 1 pick and the Cardinal offense.

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Week 10 is all about the little guys … and a couple of big ones

FORT WORTH, TX - OCTOBER 16: Head coach Gary Patterson of the TCU Horned Frogs takes to the field with offensive guard Josh Vernon  and tackle Zach Roth  against the BYU Cougars at Amon G. Carter Stadium on October 16, 2010 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Today is a big day for TCU and Utah, as they get to prove themselves to a national audience in a huge game between top five teams.

Oh. Wait. This game is somehow not on any kind of normal television. I keep hearing CBS College Sports Network, which does nothing for me because I have a digital basic package. I figured Versus was going to bail me out, but nope. Versus is showing us the very important and very sought after Princeton vs. Penn game. I’d rather watch those two schools square off in quiz bowl. OK, that’s a lie. I don’t want to see that either.

Luckily for TCU and Utah, there’s a lot of hype around the game, meaning the winner will get some preferential treatment in the polls just by the final score. Not to mention the fact that TCU is being listed at No. 3 (its BCS ranking) and Boise at No. 4, while the Broncos are actually No. 3 in the coaches poll and TCU is No. 4. A win by the Horned Frogs just may push them past Boise, if for no other reason than the coaches might have just figured they already were. Don’t you love the BCS? Read the rest of this entry »

Week 6 forecast: Will Sparty stop Denard Robinson? Will South Carolina pull the upset?

AUBURN, AL - SEPTEMBER 25: Marcus Lattimore  of the South Carolina Gamecocks rushes against the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on September 25, 2010 in Auburn, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

College football season continues to be awesome. It seems like every week I sit down to write my picks (which also continue to be awesome) there are a handful of games that are can’t miss.

I don’t know if that’s because there’s an increasing number of good teams in college football, or if all the cupcakes teams were feasting on at the beginning of the season beefed up their records artificially. Either way, I like being excited on a Friday night for what I’m about to see the next day, and I’ve been like that for a few weeks now.

This week is no different, in fact, it’s about as big as any weekend of the season. And maybe that’s artificially inflated for myself living in Michigan and seeing about 50% of my Facebook “friends” switch their profile picture to something Michigan or Michigan State related. It’s half exciting and half terribly annoying (example: New friend request from John Doe. Hmm, John Doe doesn’t ring a bell, I wonder what he looks like. Oh, he looks just like Denard Robinson. Strange. Ignore. (Not true, I never ignore. My ego can use all the friends it can get, virtual or not.)).

Enough parentheses, let’s get to the games. Read the rest of this entry »

It doesn’t get any better than Saban vs. Meyer (and several other great games)

ATLANTA - DECEMBER 06:  Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide congratulates head coach Urban Meyer of the Florida Gators after the Gators 31-20 win in the SEC Championship on December 6, 2008 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Say what you want about Nick Saban and Urban Meyer (and believe me, there’s plenty to say about both of them), but they are very likely the two best coaches in college football right now.

The duo has combined for four national titles since 2003, and it wouldn’t be that far fetched to say they’ll combine to win another four in the next eight seasons. Alabama and Florida are at the top of the college football heap, and will continue to be there as long as these two men are at the top.

Apparently, they could have been together, but Saban big-timed Meyer and didn’t return his call in 1990. In Saban’s defense, 1990 was before caller ID (right?) and maybe his wife lost the phone number, or took it down wrong. Or maybe Saban is a big-timer (this is probably more likely). Either way, Urban seems to have forgiven him. Probably because he’s done well enough for himself since then.

Their teams play each other today, in what’s probably the game of the day when you consider everything (records, rankings, history, etc.). Click ahead to see who wins that one and more. Read the rest of this entry »

Andrew Luck, Ryan Mallett have chance to make big impressions today

PASADENA, CA - SEPTEMBER 11: Andrew Luck  of Stanford passes in the pocket against UCLA during the game at the Rose Bowl on September 11, 2010 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Perhaps the only thing worse for Jake Locker than his atrocious performance against Nebraska last week, is the fact that he has an off week to think about said performance and so does everyone else.

Locker was many expert’s favorite to be the top pick, or at least the top quarterback, in the 2011 NFL Draft because of his arm strength and mobility. The 4-for-20 stinker against Nebraska changed a lot of those minds, however, including Locker’s stalker biggest fan, ESPN’s Todd McShay.

So who steps up in his place? We may find out today. The other top QB prospects this year — Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett and Stanford’s Andrew Luck — each have a big chance to showcase their talents this afternoon on a big stage.

Mallett gets a chance to prove he can do what Locker couldn’t a week ago: Have a big game against an elite defense. The Razorbacks play host to top-ranked Alabama, and while it’s a relatively inexperienced secondary that he’ll be facing, carving up a Nick Saban-coached defense can do wonders for one’s draft stock. A win could vault Mallett to the top of draft boards, but he could also get there in a loss. Arkansas’ defense has never been looked at as a strength, so if Mallett has a strong game in a shootout, he should still get a lot of credit.

Luck isn’t facing a defense near as good as the one Mallett will see today, but he is playing on a big stage. Stanford heads to Notre Dame, which — like it or not — is going to get him a lot of attention. The Irish secondary is nowhere near elite, but if Luck puts up huge numbers, he wouldn’t be the first quarterback to be elevated for it (see: Russell, Jamarcus).

Stanford and Luck should have more success today, but it’s probably Mallett who has more to gain. Either way, all Locker can do is sit and watch.

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