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