Orange Bowl 2011: 10 Things to Know About Stanford vs. Virginia Tech

Chris EggemeyerCorrespondent IDecember 6, 2010

Orange Bowl 2011: 10 Things to Know About Stanford vs. Virginia Tech

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 04:  Lyndell Gibson #44 of the Virginia Tech Hokies celebrates with an orange after defeating the Florida State Seminoles to win the ACC Championship 44-33 at Bank of America Stadium on December 4, 2010 in Charlotte, North Carolin
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Well, it's official: the No. 4 ranked Stanford Cardinal will face the No. 13 ranked Virginia Tech Hokies in the 2011 Orange Bowl.

    The game will pit two of the hottest teams in college football against each other.

    Stanford is coming off its best season in school history, finishing 11-1, with its only loss coming against No. 2 ranked Oregon. They boast arguably the best coach in the NCAA in Jim Harbaugh, and the best quarterback in Andrew Luck, and they are out to prove that traditionally non-football schools can make a big impact.

    On the other side of the ball is Virginia Tech, who after starting the season with two tough losses against Boise State and James Madison, have won 11 games in a row, and consequently enter the Orange Bowl with a full head of steam. They boast a deadly offense centered around speedy quarterback Tyrod Taylor, and a defense that has really come up big for them this year.They will be looking to play the role of spoiler to the BCS Bowl run of the Stanford Cardinal.

    This match up should prove to be an interesting one, so, here, to set the stage, are ten things you need to know about the match up between Stanford and Virginia Tech.

Andrew Luck

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    PALO ALTO, CA - NOVEMBER 27:  Andrew Luck #12 of the Stanford Cardinal in action against the Oregon State Beavers at Stanford Stadium on November 27, 2010 in Palo Alto, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    If you've watched any college football so far this season, you know who this guy is.

    This is Andrew Luck. He is the best quarterback in college football right now.

    Luck is widely considered to be the No. 1 overall draft pick in April's NFL Draft, should he choose to declare, and he has been the centerpiece of the Cardinal offense that ranks No. 8 in scoring this season.

    He has the potential to go out with a bang by posting a good showing against a good Virginia Tech defense.

Tyrod Taylor

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 04:  Tyrod Taylor #5 of the Virginia Tech Hokies runs with the ball against the Florida State Seminoles during their game at Bank of America Stadium on December 4, 2010 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Tyrod Taylor is a quietly good quarterback.

    He may not be the kind of talent that Cam Newton or Denard Robinson may be as far as a running quarterback, but he has been very accurate this season, posting a completion percentage of 60.6% and throwing four interceptions to his 23 touchdowns.

Stanford's Improved Defense

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    BALTIMORE - 2008:  Vic Fangio of the Baltimore Ravens poses for his 2008 NFL headshot at photo day in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Getty Images)
    Getty Images/Getty Images

    Stanford made a great move this past off season by hiring this guy, Vic Fangio, former defensive backs coach for the Baltimore Ravens.

    In the span of one season, Fangio took a defense that could hardly stop anyone, converted them to a 3-4 base, and brought them to the point where they are now, ranked No. 11 in the country in points against. The physicality with which they play could really spell disaster for the Hokies.

Virginia Tech's Ball-Hawking Defense

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    BLACKSBURG, VA - NOVEMBER 04: Quarterback Joshua Nesbitt #9 of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets runs with the ball as linebacker Lyndell Gibson #44 of the Virginia Tech Hokies and defensive end Chris Drager #33 of the Virginia Tech Hokies defend at Lane St
    Geoff Burke/Getty Images

    Virginia Tech has a real penchant for creating turnovers on defense.

    Take CB Jayron Hosley as an example. As a sophomore, Hosley is tied for the lead in the NCAA for interceptions at eight, an impressive number for a thirteen game season.

    The Virginia Tech defense loves to get their hands on the ball, and that could be dangerous for the Cardinal, who have a habit of letting turnovers pile up.

Stanford's Bowl Game Drought

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    PALO ALTO, CA - NOVEMBER 27:  Head coach Jim Harbaugh of the Stanford Cardinal watches his team play the Oregon State Beavers at Stanford Stadium on November 27, 2010 in Palo Alto, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    The Stanford Cardinal have not been to a bowl game since 2002 until last year, when they rode an 8-4 record to the Brut Sun Bowl only to be defeated by the Oklahoma Sooners.

    This loss extended their streak of years without a Bowl win to thirteen years.

    The Cardinal look to win their first bowl game this year since the Sun Bowl in 1996, where they defeated the Michigan State Spartans 38-0.

The ACC BCS Bowl History

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 04:  A fan of the Virginia Tech Hokies cheers on against the Florida State Seminoles during their game at Bank of America Stadium on December 4, 2010 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    That crazy guy must have just realized what the overall record of the ACC is in BCS Bowls.

    The ACC is an astonishingly bad 2-10 in BCS bowl games, which could bode well or poorly for Virginia Tech, depending on how you look at it.

    It could mean that this is the time when the ACC begins to right the ship in terms of that record.

    That, or it could mean that numbers don't lie and the ACC will be adding another loss to that column.

The Battle For PAC-10 Prestige

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    SALT LAKE CITY, UT - JUNE 17: Utah Athletic Director Dr. Chris Hill (R) talks as PAC-10 Commissioner Larry Scott (L) and President of the University of Utah Michael Young (C) listen as the University was admitted into the PAC-10 June 17, 2010 in Salt Lake
    George Frey/Getty Images

    As it moves towards expansion, the PAC-10 is also desperately attempting to garner as much national attention as is possible, and part of that involves winning bowl games, something that the PAC-10 hasn't done a very good job of over the past few years, and isn't continuing strongly this year.

    The PAC-10 managed only to produce four bowl eligible teams (Stanford, Oregon, Washington, and Arizona), which means that they failed to fulfill their obligation to four other bowls. The worst part, too, is that Oregon and Stanford both received their shots at big ticket BCS games this year, and a loss could really set back the bowl status and the reputation of the PAC-10.

Virginia Tech Has Something to Prove

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 04:  Tyrod Taylor #5 of the Virginia Tech Hokies celebrates after defeating the Florida State Seminoles on their way to winning the ACC Championship 44-33 at Bank of America Stadium on December 4, 2010 in Charlotte, North Carolina
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Not only is Virginia Tech one of only two ranked teams in the ACC, but they are probably the highest ranked team never to be talked about.

    After losing in the biggest upset of the year to James Madison, the Hokies almost completely dropped off the radar until just recently as the bowl conversation started to open up.

    Virginia Tech is not only out there to represent the ACC, but to represent who they truly are, to prove that they aren't the team that inexplicably fell to an FCS opponent in the beginning of the season.

Stanford Stars Going Out With a Bang

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    PALO ALTO, CA - OCTOBER 09: Sione Fua #92 of the Stanford Cardinal celebrates after he sacked Matt Barkley #7  of the USC Trojans at Stanford Stadium on October 9, 2010 in Palo Alto, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    A lot of you are familiar with Andrew Luck and Jim Harbaugh, the two most well-known people associated with Stanford football right now.

    You also know that there are rumors surrounding both of them that involve their exit after the end of this season.

    While the jury is still out on whether or not that all will happen, let's focus on the people who will leave, specifically senior defensive tackle Sione Fua and senior middle linebacker/fullback Owen Marecic.

    Sione Fua has been plugged in this year as the nose tackle in Vic Fangio's 3-4 scheme, and his draft stock has subsequently picked up a lot of steam. He does a great job of containing the middle, and the fact that this is a BCS bowl gam, and his last game wearing Cardinal, will be extra motivation to help keep the Virginia Tech running game in check.

    As for Owen Marecic, well, he gets a lot of press, but it still seems like few people know who he is. His bruising hits and his ability to play both ways make him one of the most versatile players in college football, and he will likely want to end his Cardinal career on a high note.

The Speed Match Up

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    MIAMI - NOVEMBER 20:  Tyrod Taylor #5 of the Virginia Tech Hokies drops back to pass during a game against the Miami Hurricanes at Sun Life Stadium on November 20, 2010 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    If there is one shortfall of the Stanford defense, it is their general lack of team speed. It is what hampered them in their game against Oregon, and it has come back to bite them on more than one occasion this year.

    This is a huge advantage for Virginia Tech, who plays a very fast paced style of football, and who will have the ability to really stretch the field with a guy like Tyrod Taylor under center.