Monday, December 31, 2007

Gator Bowl Preview

Virginia vs Texas Tech 1:00 ET CBS
Jacksonville, FL
Line: TT -6, 59

Virginia Cavaliers (9-3, 6-2)
The Cavaliers had an inauspicious beginning to the season by losing at Wyoming by 20 points. After that game, the Cavs won 7 straight games, 5 of them by 5 points or less. They won 6 games total by 5 points or less this season. Virginia had a chance to win the Atlantic, but lost to rival Virginia Tech in the regular season finale.
Best Win: vs Wake Forest 17-16
Worst Loss: @Wyoming 3-23
Record vs Bowl Teams: 4-1
Record vs BCS Top 25: 1-1
Schedule Strength: 73rd
HC Groh in Bowl Games: 3-1

Texas Tech Red Raiders (8-4, 4-4)
Texas Tech had a good year, but has still not been able to break through the Texas-Oklahoma lock on the South Division. The Red Raiders put up more than 40 points 7 times during the year, but also gave up 30+ points 5 times. The highlight of the season was the home win over Oklahoma.
Best Win: vs Oklahoma 34-27
Worst Loss: @ Missouri 10-41
Record vs Bowl Teams: 2-4
Record vs BCS Top 25:
Schedule Strength: 75th
HC Leach Record in Bowl Games: 4-3

Virginia Offense:
QB Jameel Sewell had a very good sophomore season in comparison to a rough freshman year. The Cavs rushing attack was led by Cedric Peerman until he went down with injury. Mikell Sampson came off the bench and is very good at receiving out of the backfield. The Cavs like to pass to their TEs, which is foreign object to Texas Tech.

Texas Tech Defense:
Defense is Lubbock is sometimes just a means to get the ball back to the offense. They are not very good at stopping the run (171 ypg), but the pass defense is pretty good; probably because it has to go against their own offense every practice. Only 1 team has thrown for 300 yards on the Red Raiders.

Texas Tech Offense:
Graham Harrell is another in the line of gunslingers out of Leach's offense. His main target is freshman Michael Crabtree who won the Bilitnenikoff Award. The Red Raiders don't really like to run the ball and have just 1 game with 100+ yards.

Virginia Defense:
Chris Long leads the Wahoos on defense with his 14 sacks. LB Clint Stitim has 8 sacks on the year as well and leads the LB corps. Surprisingly, Long is tied for the team lead in pass breakups with 7. Virginia's top DB is likely out for not studying hard enough (aka academics).

I would think Virginia feels slighted being nearly a touchdown underdog to a team with 1 less win. Texas Tech badly wants to break through to that next level and a New Years Day Bowl win could set the wheels in motion for a Big 12 title run next year.

Texas Tech has only seen 1 defense as good as UVA's this year and that was Oklahoma. I think they can negate Virginia's pass rush because they get the ball out of Harrell's hands quickly. Virginia will keep it close though with ball control and grab some turnovers.

Texas Tech 28 Virginia 24
Texas Tech Wins, Virginia Covers, Under

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