Virginia Tech-Cincinnati: Who Will Be Sipping on The Juice

Justin CocchiolaCorrespondent IDecember 30, 2008

The Orange Bowl is rivaling the Sugar Bowl for the "least intriguing BCS Matchup."

Does anyone really think Utah will beat Alabama? Please. However, it may be one of the most competitive. Look for Texas to beat Ohio State, USC to truck Penn State, and, yeah, 'Bama should win by at least 20.

The National Championship should be good, and pretty exciting to watch.  The Orange Bowl, not so much. I'm not expecting a very exciting game, but if you like defense you've come to the right place.

Cincinnati is a good team; don't get me wrong. They're not bad offensively, but they will struggle against this Virginia Tech defense. Tony Pike is the reason for much of Cincinnati's offensive success. He started the season as fifth string, and ended up with 18 touchdowns, seven interceptions and over 2,100 passing yards.

His favorite target this year has been Marshwan Gilyard, who has 74 catches for over 1,100 yards and 10 touchdowns.  This will be a fun matchup to watch with Victor "Macho" Harris staying glued to Gilyard for much of the game, but Gilyard has great speed and Harris may be used on offense, so fatigue could affect Harris' ability to cover Gilyard.

Stephan Virgil will also be busy covering Dominick Goodman who has 78 catches for 977 yards and seven touchdowns. Cincinnati will need to have a good day through the air in order to beat Virginia Tech. The secondary will have to play a good game, and the defensive line will need to step up as well.

The Hokies will not have defensive end Jason Worilds for this one, as the doctors decided it's to dangerous for him to continue playing with a shoulder injury.  He had been playing through the injury the last few weeks, and still managed to be one of the best defenders on the field.  Nekos Brown will take his place.

Virginia Tech will also be without middle linebacker Brett Warren who has torn his ACL.  According to different media outlets, Barquel Rivers will get the start, but I have to believe Cody Grimm will be getting a lot of action at linebacker.

Defensively, Virginia Tech ranks 13th in passing defense, 18th in rushing defense, and seventh in total yards allowed per game.  The Hokies will once again have to rely on their defense to win this game, and must limit the big play, which they often give up.  

Cincinnati has two running backs who receive majority of the carries, and Jacob Ramsey leads the team with 630 yards on the ground, while John Goebel has 581 yards rushing with seven touchdowns.  Cincinnati will need to get their ground game going early to keep the Virginia Tech secondary on their heels.  

Offensively, Virginia Tech has issues.  They've been much better in their last two games against Virginia and Boston College, and much of the success goes to Tyrod Taylor, who has started playing up to his potential.  Taylor has only two passing touchdowns this season, but has six rushing touchdowns.  

If the passing game can get going for the Hokies they should be in good shape.  If not they have Darren Evans who has rushed for over 1,100 yards and 10 touchdowns, and Taylor has nearly 700 rushing yards.

Cincinnati doesn't rank in the top 50 for passing yards allowed per game, but does rank 12th in rushing yards allowed per game.  This may cause problems for Virginia Tech, because they struggle to throw on anybody.  They must have success running the football in order to score points offensively.  If not, it could be another disappointing night for Hokie fans.

Virginia Tech has played the tougher schedule, but Cincinnati has an advantage in my opinion.  The Bearcats have prepared for mobile quarterbacks before.  Pat White was only able to run for 41 yards on 20 carries against the Bearcats, but passed for over 200 yards and two touchdowns. Cincinnati beat West Virginia in overtime.

Taylor is a good runner, but he's not as quick as White, and at this point in his career is not a better passer. This should worry Hokie fans.  Virginia Tech usually doesn't come through in bowl games, and hasn't won since the 2006 Gator Bowl.  This is Virginia Tech's third BCS Bowl in five years, and would like to win their first BCS Bowl in school history.

Although I'm concerned for the Hokies offense, I still think they will do enough defensively to win this game.  I also feel like Taylor has matured as a quarterback, especially  towards the end of the season, and an Orange Bowl victory with such a young football team will do wonders for such a young team.  Look for Taylor to have a surprisingly good day on offense, but for Cincinnati to keep it close.

Virginia Tech 23, Cincinnati 19