Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Heckler's Bowl Preview Special (Part 5 of 7)

Today I will be going over the Orange Bowl. The Rose Bowl Preview is coming next Tuesday (12/28). The B.C.S. National Championship Game Preview is coming on that following Thursday (12/30).

Orange Bowl (Miami, Florida) - January 3, 2011
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#4 Stanford Cardinal v. #13 Virginia Tech Hokies



#4 Stanford Cardinal (11-1, 8-1 Pac-10)
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Average Points per game: 40.3 (8th out of 120 Division I-A teams)
Average Points Allowed: 17.8 (11)
Home record: 6-0
Away record: 5-1 (Lost to #4 Oregon)
Total Yards (offense): 467.3 (14)
Last 6 (W-L): 6-0
Record v. top 25: 1-1 (W: #15 Arizona-Week 9; L: #4 Oregon-Week 5)

#13 Virginia Tech Hokies (11-2, 8-0 ACC Coastal)
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Average Points per game: 35.5 (19)
Average Points Allowed: 19.1 (16)
Home record: 7-2 (Lost to #3 Boise St.* and James Madison**)
Away record: 4-0
Total Yards (offense): 411.1 (37)
Last 6 (W-L): 6-0
Record v. top 25: 3-1 (W: #23 North Carolina St.-Week 5, #24 Miami (Fl.)-Week 11, #21 Florida St.-Week 13; L: #3 Boise St.-Week 1)
*neutral site game
**Division I-AA

BREAKDOWN:

Jim Harbaugh has turned around the once 1-11 Cardinal in a short 3 year span. This last year the #4 Cardinal have established a school record for wins with 11. They are appearing in a major Bowl game. They have utilized the second best player in college football (according to the awards circuit) Andrew Luck and his golden arm. They had a 31-24 halftime lead against then #4 Oregon in week 5 of the season and then got shut out in the second half; losing 52-31. This is the part of the breakdown that I usually talk about potential unrealized for these teams, but Stanford exceeded their own expectations this year. They weren't better than the Ducks and that was evident in the way they weren't prepared in the second half of that game. They weren't ready for the moment. The only thing that is a mystery to me is why T.C.U. got invited to the Rose Bowl instead of the Cardinal. The opponent looking across the field at the Cardinal is to everyone's surprise, the Virginia Tech Hokies. The #13 Hokies have traveled the road less traveled this year. They fell off the map almost entirely after just two weeks of the season. They started off losing to the #3 Boise State in week 1, 33-30. That loss was looked at with a shrug. It was more a test passed for the Broncos than a crippling loss for the Hokies; then in week 2 the Nation raised their collective eyebrows when Virginia Tech fell to 0-2 by losing to Division I-AA James Madison. Their season looked to be done before it even got started. Then it happened, the Hokies started winning and winning and winning. The Nation looked up in the end and the Hokies had won 11 in a row after they dispatched of then #21 Florida State to win the A.C.C. Championship. Now they sit in the Orange Bowl. The Hokies are 1-1 in the Orange Bowl. This is the game Virgina Tech was slotted to play from the beginning of the season. The match-up between #4 Stanford and #13 Virginia Tech is the one that holds the least "I could have been somewhere else" element to it. This is going to be a good old fashion slug-fest between two schools looking for respect. Pure and simple this is the 2nd best respect game (the winner is going to have the leg up in the preseason polls next year) of this Bowl Season.

PREDICTION:

1st Half: #4 Stanford 23 #13 Virginia Tech 14
2nd Half: #4 Stanford 24 #13 Virginia Tech 14

Final Score: #4 Stanford 47 #13 Virgina Tech 28

ANALYSIS:

The Orange Bowl is going to be close for the first quarter. After that quarter expires this one is going to be a blowout. #4 Stanford has too much offensive weapons for Virginia Tech to stop. Andrew Luck is going to heighten his NFL draft stock in this game. Luck and Doug Baldwin (Luck's favorite target: 56 rec, 824 yds, 9TDs) are going to stretch the Hokies defense early and often. The mixture of the running game centered around Stepfan Taylor (1,023 yds, 4.9 yards/carry, 15 TDs) along with the passing attack is going to be too much for the Hokies defense to stop. Their only hope is going to be for their offense to keep up with the Cardinal. Tyrod Taylor and Darren Evans will not be enough of an attack to keep up with the Cardinal. The option/pass attack of #13 Virgina Tech will not be good enough to fool the Cardinal, who have already had to deal with the Oregon offense this year (which is a far better version of the spread than the Hokies could possibly put out there). Taylor will try to keep it close, since he is a superior athlete but in the end the better team will win, and that is the #4 Stanford Cardinal. The Hokies have had a great run after starting the season 0-2 but their run comes to an end in Miami.

-The Heckler

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