Orange Bowl Preview: Stanford vs. Virginia Tech

At long last, the Orange Bowl is here. Well, almost. Here's an abbreviated Cardinal Cram Session to get you ready for tomorrow's BCS showdown with Virginia Tec.

Opening Number

18: Consecutive bowl berths by Virginia Tech, which is used to the big stage. Stanford is appearing in its second consecutive bowl game, but only its fourth since 2000.

Players to Watch

Andrew Luck, Stanford QB: Luck, who could be playing his final game in a Stanford uniform, was on fire at the end of the season, completing more than 70% of his passes and throwing eight touchdowns against 1 interception in his last four games. He faces one of his biggest tests against Bud Foster's defense, which has produced 22 interceptions this season.

Stepfan Taylor, Stanford RB: Taylor, who rattled off five consecutive 100-yards games in the middle of the season, ended the year with another 100-yard effort against Oregon State. Virginia Tech has been vulnerable against the run and Stanford will likely lean heavily on the sophomore to open things up for Luck and the passing game early on.

Tyrod Taylor, Virginia Tech QB: The ACC Player of the Year threw only four interceptions all season and is a threat to throw or run when he gets outside of the pocket.  

Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech RB: Williams, who missed four games during the regular season with a hamstring injury and has been limited in practice the last two weeks with an injury to the same hamstring, doesn't expect to be 100 percent for the Orange Bowl. Even at 90% he'll be a handful for the Cardinal defense. 

Key Terms

Beamerball: An opportunistic defense and solid special teams have been two of the hallmarks of Frank Beamer's tenure at Virginia Tech. David Wilson, who will sit out the first quarter after missing a team bed check, is one of the best return men in the game. Senior kicker Chris Hazley is 20-for-21 on field goals this season.

Harbaugh, Harbaugh, Harbaugh: Will he stay or will he go? It's the fear of the unknown, though some experts claim to know with near certainty that Harbaugh is on the way out.

Character and Cruelty: One more time now. Stanford's offensive line goes up against a Virginia Tech team that has prided itself on defense in the past. 

Additional Reading

Here are Stanford's offensive and defensive keys to success.

It's been a long road to the Orange Bowl for Florida native Doug Baldwin.

The Hokies are counting on Rashad Carmichael to limit Luck.

The Daily Axe predicts Stanford will prevail in a shootout.

ESPN's Heather Dinich says the difference in the game will be Stanford's ability to run the ball.

The Key Play forecasts a narrow VT victory.

Glenn Garvin introduces South Beach to the LSJUMB.

Closing Number

1: Win by the Hokies in 27 games all-time against teams ranked in the top 5 of the AP poll.

Prediction

I should probably be more concerned about Tyrod Taylor and his potential to burn Stanford with the zone-read option, but with a month to prepare, I think Vic Fangio will have the Cardinal defense ready. Virginia Tech hasn't seen an offense quite like Stanford's this season and the running game shouldn't have much trouble setting up the play-action for Andrew Luck. 

Stanford 38, Virginia Tech 24

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