The Sugar Bowl will take place tonight in New Orleans, with No. 11 Virginia Tech taking on No. 13 Michigan. Most of the talk about this game has centered around whether either team truly deserves to have been selected to play.
But this game promises to be one of the most interesting games in the entire bowl season because of two of the most explosive players in the game, Denard Robinson and David Wilson.
Here are five bold predictions for the game.
Robinson is one of the most electrifying players in all of college football, but his strength is not throwing the football. He has 18 touchdowns to 14 interceptions on the year, and most of those picks have come against the best defenses he has faced.
Virginia Tech is averaging just over an interception per game played, and cornerback Jayron Hosley is 100 percent after missing most of the ACC Championship with a hamstring injury. He led the nation in interceptions last year, and his counterpart, Kyle Fuller, has been the best defensive player on the team. When Shoelace drops back to pass, Michigan fans need to be concerned.
Defensive tackle Mike Martin has been through a lot with the rest of the Michigan seniors, but through it all, he has been one of the best, most consistent and underrated defensive tackles in the Big Ten.
He has 54 tackles on the year and is a nightmare matchup for Virginia Tech. The Hokies have lost two kinds of games in the past five years: games against terrible teams—see James Madison and East Carolina—and games against teams with talented defensive tackles.
If Martin can keep running back David Wilson from gaining big yards up the middle, the defense can play the outside and make Tech one-dimensional like it was in the ACC Championship.
The starting Virginia Tech kicker will not play in the Sugar Bowl after getting arrested for breaking and entering. The team was going to rely on Tyler Weiss for short field goals and kickoff specialist Justin Myer for long field goals.
Then Weiss got sent home for breaking curfew. The only reason why Myer didn’t win the kicking competition is because is wildly inconsistent. If the Hokies are in 4th-and-3 or less from between the 20 and 30, expect them to go for it.
Brady Hoke tried to implement a more pro-style offense, but it didn’t suit Denard Robinson, and he didn’t have a reliable running back. Fitzgerald Toussaint has emerged as a legitimate playmaker at the position.
He has taken over as the featured back and has gained over 100 yards every time he has gotten 100 yards or more. Defenses are so focused on stopping Robinson that they forget about the actual running back. Bud Foster is a brilliant defensive coordinator, but if he hasn’t adequately prepared for Toussaint, Virginia Tech could be in a world of trouble.
Michigan and Virginia Tech match up really well with each other. Linebacker Alonzo Tweedy finally will be back in the lineup after missing a lot of time with a high ankle sprain. He runs a 4.33 40-yard dash, and that’s a huge problem for Denard Robinson.
Mike Martin could have a career game against Virginia Tech’s offensive line, which would entirely disrupt what the Hokies do on offense. But the biggest difference has been bowl preparation. This will be Tech’s fourth BCS Bowl in five years, while Michigan has been to one bowl game since 2007 in which the team got dominated by Mississippi State.
Brady Hoke has allowed the Wolverines to police themselves, while Frank Beamer is all business, especially after the off-field incidents with the kickers. Virginia Tech will come out all business with a chip on its shoulder, while Michigan will just be happy to be there. That will ultimately be the deciding factor in the game.