MIAMI (CBS4) – The last time the Virginia Tech Hokies took the field at Sun Life Stadium, they demolished the Miami Hurricanes. But, when the Hokies take the field for the Orange Bowl Monday night, they will face a much tougher test in quarterback Andrew Luck and the Stanford Cardinal.
Luck is the best pro-style quarterback in the country. He’s almost single-handedly led the Cardinal to a top 5 rating and a berth in the Orange Bowl. Stanford had the number nine ranked scoring offense in the country and Luck was the catalyst.
The potential number one overall NFL Draft pick threw for more than 3,000 yards and completed 70 percent of his passes in 2010. Luck throws four touchdowns for every one interception he throws and also ran the ball for 438 yards and three touchdowns. He’s the focus of the Virignia Tech defense and rightfully so.
Luck played some of his best football on third down throughout the season. He threw only one interception this season on third down and completed below 61 percent only on third downs that needed more than 10 yards.
Virginia Tech has to find a way to stop the Cardinal offense’s ability to convert on third down. The Cardinal led the nation in third-down conversion percentage at 57.7 percent. Luckily for Virginia Tech, they can counter with a defense ranked number 22 in the country at stopping opponents on third down, giving up a first down only 34.95 percent of the time.
The Hokies are coming off a season that started about as poorly as anyone could imagine. Virginia Tech started off with a heart-breaking loss to Boise State, then the wheels came off big time. The Hokies lost at home to Division I-AA James Madison and everyone pretty much wrote the Hokies off.
Never one to let his team fall of the cliff, Hokies coach Frank Beamer lit a fire under his team after the James Madison game, and his team responded. The Hokies ran off 11 straight victories, including knocking off the Florida State Seminoles in the ACC Championship Game.
The Hokies had a good mix of run and pass, led by senior quarterback Tyrod Taylor. Beamer had Taylor pick team’s apart, but he also gave the athlete the freedom to scramble when need be. Taylor responded to the two losses by putting together a very impressive season.
In 2010, Taylor threw for more than 2,500 yards, completed 61 percent of his passes, and threw 23 touchdowns to only four interceptions. Taylor also was a danger on the ground as he ran for 637 yards and five touchdowns this season, averaging nearly 5 yards per carry.
Taylor had 32 passes for more than 25 yards on the season and played just as well on the road as he did at home. In the Hokies 11 victories, Taylor threw for 20 touchdowns and 3 interceptions.
Both teams have defense’s that are extremely stingy with giving up any points. Virginia Tech is ranked 15th in the country in scoring defense, while Stanford ranks number 10 in scoring defense. Offensively, Stanford has a top-ten offense, scoring 40 points per game. Virginia Tech is no slouch, ranking 19th in the country in scoring offense, averaging 35.5 points per game.
In the end, this may end up being the best bowl matchup in the BCS. After seeing Oklahoma demolish UConn in the Fiesta Bowl, and an underappreciated TCU team knock out Wisconsin; the BCS needs this game to live up to the hype.
Stanford may have a distraction with head coach Jim Harbaugh being rumored for every job in the NFL and the University of Michigan, should they can Rich Rodriguez. Beamer always has a stingy defense and his special teams are second to none. If you have the time, grab a tin of popcorn and kick back to watch two great teams duke it out at Sun Life Monday night.