By Casey Keefe
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Orange Bowl: Stanford (11-1) vs. Virginia Tech (11-2)

– The Matchup:

These are two red-hot teams. Virginia Tech has won 11 straight games since their 0-2 start, which included a loss at home to James Madison of the FCS. Stanford hasn’t been too shabby of later either, winning 7 straight after their lone loss on the season to Oregon.

This is the Hokies third Orange Bowl appearance in four seasons. Stanford on the other hand is somewhat new to all of this big-time bowl stuff. Not too long ago they were one of the laughing stocks of college football. That was before Jim Harbaugh took over. It’s almost unimaginable the sudden success he’s been able to lead this program to.

Speaking of Harbaugh, he’ll be facing one of the best coaches in the business – Frank Beamer. With such a long layoff, it will be important to see how these coaches have prepared their teams. The bottom line is it doesn’t matter how hot you were a month ago – It’s about how focused and prepared you are come kickoff.

– Players To Watch:

Stanford: QB – Andrew Luck – 3,051 yards, 31 total TD’s, 7 INT’s

Virginia Tech: QB – Tyrod Taylor – 3,158 total yards, 28 total TD’s, 4 INT’s

– What Will Happen:

This is one of the tougher games to predict. Both teams have been playing so well and are so evenly matched. Obviously the matchup to watch is Andrew Luck and the Cardinal offense against the Virginia Tech defense which to the naked eye looks great, but so much of their success is predicated on takeaways. They’ve compiled 22 interceptions on the season. Simply put, they feast off the mistakes of the opposing quarterback. Well, Andrew Luck is guy who won’t be making too many mistakes, that’s for sure.

The Cardinal aren’t all about the passing attack. They do have Stepfan Taylor on the ground. They are a crisp, balanced, well-functional unit which is very tough to defend. They’ll be able to move the ball and control the clock, but as I said, the most important thing will be their ability to protect the ball and not make mental or physical mistakes. I can’t say the same for the Hokies.

Tyrod Taylor has taken his game to whole other level. He’s the unquestioned best player in the ACC and can kill you both through the air and on the ground. He has a deep wide receiving core with Jarrett Boykin, Danny Coale and Andre Smith, not to mention the ground attack of Ryan Williams and Darren Evans.

Despite all the weapons, when push comes to shove, I doubt Tech will be able to strike as quick, often or lethal as Stanford will. The Cardinal defense isn’t great, so I think the Hokies to do damage on the scoreboard – but not as much as Luck and company.

We can expect to see a lot of points scored between these two teams. It’ll be a shootout, but in this particular matchup, Stanford can win a shootout – Virginia Tech can’t.

– Prediction:

Stanford 40 Virginia Tech 34

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