The Stanford Cardinal will take on the ACC champion Virginia Tech Hokies in the 2011 Discover Orange Bowl. This will be the third Orange Bowl appearance in four seasons for the Hokies and Tyrod Taylor. How will Stanford respond to the challenge?
The early spread on this game is Cardinal (-3). Here are six of the key aspects of the game and what to watch out for when betting. All lines from Cooper’s Picks.
#1 Ball Control
The Cardinal are converting just under 58% of their third downs under the guidance of Andrew Luck, and they’re averaging over 35 minutes of time of possession per game.
#2 Best Victories
Neither team has an overly impressive victory this season. The Cardinal best victories came against the 8-5 USC Trojans (37-35) and the 7-5 Arizona Wildcats (42-17). They were dominated in their match-up against the Oregon Ducks, 52-31.
The Hokies started the season 0-2 with losses to James Madison and Boise State before running off eleven straight victories. Their best victories came against the 8-4 N.C. State Wolfpack (41-30), 7-5 Miami Hurricane (31-17), and 7-5 North Carolina Tar Heels (26-10). They defeated the Florida State Seminoles 44-33 in the ACC Championship, but FSU QB Charlie Ponder didn’t play.
#3 2008 Orange Bowl
Virginia Tech suffered a 24-21 defeat to the Kansas Jayhawks in the 2008 Orange Bowl. I bring this up because it’s somewhat of a similar situation. The Cardinal are in unfamiliar territory after years of downtime (just like the Jayhawks). The Hokies find themselves in another major Bowl game, falling just short of their national championship aspirations… again.
The Hokies defeated the Cincinnati Bearcats in the 2009 Orange Bowl, but I believe Virginia Tech was vastly superior to Cincinnati. Kansas to Virginia Tech was pretty even, about the same way I’d see Stanford to Virginia Tech with Stanford having the advantage over Kansas because of Andrew Luck and Jim Harbaugh.
This will be the third Orange Bowl in four seasons for the Hokies. Tyrod Taylor has been the quarterback for all three, and the Hokies certainly have the experience factor over the Cardinal, who’ll be relying on a red shirt sophomore QB.
This match-up pits the #16 points against defense (Virginia Tech) with the #11 points against defense (Stanford). The Cardinal have pitched three shutouts, but they did surrender 35 and 52 points in their biggest tests against the USC Trojans and Oregon Ducks. The Hokies have held four teams to ten or fewer points, two of which came against above .500 ACC teams. They gave up 33 points in the ACC championship to the Florida State Seminoles who were without their starting quarterback.
#6 Virginia Tech Rushing Offense
The Hokies could pose problems for Stanford’s rushing defense. The Cardinal surrendered 388 yards of rushing, mostly against the Oregon Ducks backfield of LaMichael James and Darron Thomas. The Hokies are similar as Tyrod Taylor is a mobile quarterback and Darren Evans has averaged nearly seven yards per carry.
This should be a fantastic match-up, possibly the most competitive of the major Bowl games. The Hokies are 11-0 since their historical setback to James Madison, and Stanford’s only loss was to the Oregon Ducks in Autzen. Change home field, and they’re probably playing Auburn.
The biggest questions here: Are the Cardinal a victim of a soft Pac-10? I do believe the Pac-10 had a down season, but the Cardinal are still a sound football team that is well coached. Also, can the Cardinals maintain the Hokies rushing attack?
A good performance by Andrew Luck basically guarantees him to be a 1st overall draft selection if he enters the 2011 NFL Draft, if he isn’t already. Going with the Stanford Cardinal, but wouldn’t be surprised if the Virginia Tech Hokies prevailed for their second Orange Bowl victory in three seasons and third consecutive bowl win.
Picks against the Spread: Stanford Cardinal (-3)
Straight: Stanford Cardinal
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Cooper’s Picks, December 7 2010.
College Football Statistics, Rivals.com. December 7, 2010.
Virginia Tech ESPN Clubhouse. December 7, 2010.
Stanford ESPN Clubhouse. December 7, 2010.