Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Tennessee-Virginia Tech Prediction: Chick-Fil-A Bowl Preview
Tennessee Volunteers vs Virginia Tech Hokies
December 31 7:30 PM ET
The ACC and SEC match up one last time this season on New Years Eve when Tennessee collides with Virginia Tech in the Chick Fil-A-Bowl.
Clemson already beat Kentucky to give the ACC the first match up, but the Hokies will need to win also to restore some conference pride after rivalry weekend was a clean sweep for the SEC.
The Hokies are making their third trip to Atlanta this season and hope it is better than the first two with losses to Alabama and Georgia Tech.
Va. Tech is also playing for a sixth consecutive 10 win seasons that would keep pace with Texas as the longest such streak in the nation.
The Volunteers are hoping to make many more trips to Atlanta in future years under Lane Kiffin, but they hope it is a little earlier in December and with a BCS spot on the line in the SEC Championship Game.
Still, Vol fans have to consider this season a success with the way they played Alabama and Florida after some predicted utter failure because of their brash first year head coach.
The Chick Fil-A-Bowl will feature two of the best defensive minds in college football: Monte Kiffin of Tennessee and Bud Foster of Virginia Tech. Foster recently turned down Georgia to stay in Blacksburg, while Kiffin left the NFL to coach with his son this season.
The biggest question I have is what can Monte Kiffin can cook up with a month’s preparation to slow down the Virginia Tech running game averaging over 200 yards per game.
Redshirt freshman Ryan Williams led the ACC in rushing this season and really came on at the end of the season for Frank Beamer’s club.
Can Tennessee slow down the Hokie ground game?
But really that question could be turned around to Virginia Tech also. This season has been an unusual one for the Hokie defense which ranks just 54th in rush defense.
In all three of their losses, VT has allowed the opposition to run the ball with relative ease, especially in the second half.
The Vols are a run first team led by 1,300 yard rusher Montario Hardesty and freshman Bryce Brown.
So really I think this game comes down to who can run the ball and who can stop the run. The Hokies rank better in both of those categories and they also rank better in turnover margin, another important stat when teams look even on paper.
I will take Virginia Tech to give the ACC two bowl wins over the SEC after a dismal end of the regular season. I feel fairly confident about this one too giving the Hokies 24 of my 34 bowl points.
Virginia Tech 27 Tennessee 21
Please follow me on Twitter