Sunday, January 2, 2011

Virginia Tech - Stanford Orange Bowl Preview and Prediction

So far I am 20-8 SU in my bowl picks, but hoping to improve on a 5-4 mark in ACC and SEC games. The ACC gets its final crack at bowl season when conference champion Virginia Tech takes on Stanford in the first non Fed-Ex sponsored Orange Bowl I can remember.

When: Jan 3rd 8PM ET
Where: The stadium formerly known as Joe Robbie halfway between FLL and MIA
Line: Stan -3.5 (open -3)

Here are the three areas I look at when making my bowl picks.

Who Has The Better Team?
These two teams were both peaking at the end of the season. The Hokies started off the season losing their first two games, but have reeled off 11 straight wins. The Cardinal's only blemish was a loss at Oregon back in early October.

Both offense are very efficient at scoring with an 11.6 yards per point average for Va Tech and Stanford. Defensively, Stanford comes in a little better with a 18.2 yards per point average to Tech's 17.8; both rank in the top 15 for bowl teams.

The Sagarin rankings favor the Cardinal as well placing them 2nd in the nation behind only Oregon. Stanford's schedule ranked 11th nationally.

Virginia Tech has made the climb back up to number 16, but their schedule was not nearly as tough ranking just 59th. The Cardinal have four top 30 wins to the Hokies' two.
Edge: Stanford

Which Coach Will Have His Team Better Prepared?
Jim Harbaugh is 0-1 in bowl games as a head coach with the only contest coming in last year's Sun Bowl where his Cardinal almost upset Oklahoma.

Frank Beamer is 8-9 in bowl games all time.

Both of these coaches are known to be very detailed oriented with teams who always play hard.
Edge: Even

Which Team Will Be More Motivated?
The Stanford team and coaching staff has been fighting off rumors that Harbaugh is leaving Stanford either for Michigan or the NFL. Harbaugh has a contract extension waiting for him that he has not signed yet fueling the speculation.

Beamer sent six Hokies home for team rules violations this past weekend and backup running back and primary kick returner David Wilson will sit out the first quarter due to team rules violations.

Neither team seems to be at their peak focus, but I give Tech the advantage because of the strong rumors surrounding Harbaugh's departure.
Edge: Slight Virginia Tech

Prediction
If it was not Stanford, I would be very worried about a team's focus and motivation with strong rumors of their coach's imminent departure. But these kids are obviously very bright and well rounded to even be attending Stanford so I don't think it will effect them that much.

The Cardinal have a very strong running game going against a Hokie defense that has been susceptible to the ground game this season. Additionally, Stanford has a potential number one overall draft pick at QB.

Combine that with a woeful 1-26 record for Virginia Tech against top five teams since 1948 and I'll take the Cardinal

Stanford 31 Virginia Tech 27
Confidence: 22

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