Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Orange Bowl Game Guide

Virginia Tech vs. Cincinnati

Time: 8 p.m.
Date: Thursday, Jan. 1, 2008
Place: Dolphin Stadium, Miami Gardens, Fla.

Last Meeting: The Hokies beat the Bearcats, 29-13 in Blacksburg in 2006. The Hokies trailed 10-5 at halftime and 13-12 after three quarters before out-scoring Cincy 17-0 in the fourth quarter. The game was sealed by a Macho Harris pick-six with two minutes to go in the game. Dustin Grutza was sacked twice and intercepted twice by the Tech defense. Branden Ore ran for 170 yards and a touchdown to pace the Hokies offensively.

Trends: This is the 16th consecutive season the Hokies have played in a bowl and the third consecutive season the Bearcats have appeared in a bowl...the Hokies have lost four of their last five bowl games while the Bearcats are on a three-game bowl win streak...Virginia Tech has won three in a row and four of its last five...Cincinnati is on a six-game win streak.

What to Expect: The two teams are polar opposites on offense. Tech will try to establish the run while Cincy will try to spread the field to open up its passing game.

The Hokies may have a tough time moving the ball on the ground against the Bearcats. Cincinnati was No. 2 in the Big East in rush defense, allowing 104 YPG. That was good enough for No. 13 in the country. However, the better running backs they faced did have success against them.

LeSean McCoy averaged 4.8 yards per carry and had two touchdowns when he faced the Bearcats. Pitt had to abandon the run when trying to make a late comeback against Cincy or McCoy would have had more than 82 yards on 17 carries. Donald Brown of UConn averaged 5.2 YPC on his way to 150 yards and two scores.

So while the Bearcats have a good run defense, it is possible for Tech to have success on the ground. It will come down to which offensive line shows up for the Hokies. With the shake-up on the interior of the line, yards could be hard to come by for Tech.

The Hokies will try to put as much pressure on Cincy QB Tony Pike as possible. Pike is a gritty performer, but can make mistakes when pressured. The key will be for the Hokies to take advantage of an offensive line that isn't one of the best we'll see this season. Jason Worilds won't be healthy, but if we can get the kind of performance he was able to give late in the season with a bad shoulder, we'll be alright.

I expect Cincy's offensive performance against us to be similar the one BC had in the game in Chestnut Hill. We will get pressure and force turnovers and sacks, but they will have two or three big plays on us.

Both teams have played a lot of close games this year and I don't expect this one to be any different.

Hokies win if: Darren Evans runs for 100 yards and the defense gets pressure on Tony Pike.

Bearcats win if: They convert big plays into points and force the Hokie O to make mistakes.

Dot-dot-dots: These two teams were scheduled to meet in the regular season in 2009, but the game was moved to 2012 so the Hokies could play in next year's Chick-fil-a College Kickoff...the two teams met in what was the first bowl game for both schools, the 1946 Sun Bowl...Cincy won that game, 18-6...the Hokies have never won in The Stadium Formerly Known as Joe Robbie, they've lost two Orange Bowls and one regular season match up with Miami there...this is Virginia Tech's first New Years Day bowl since the Gator Bowl in 2002...this is Cincinnati's first New Years Day bowl since the Sun Bowl in 1951.

Bearcat Blogs

Cincinnati Enquirer: Bill Koch
The News Record: Bo Jessee
1530 Homer: Lot D
GoBearcats.com: Josh Katzowitz

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