2011 Orange Bowl - Virginia Tech vs. Stanford
Stanford QB Andrew Luck & VT QB Tyrod Taylor
Stanford QB Andrew Luck & VT QB Tyrod Taylor
Posted Jan 2, 2011

Sort of the forgotten BCS game, the 2011 Orange Bowl should be among the most interesting bowls with Andrew Luck and Stanford looking to show they're for real, while Tyrod Taylor and Virginia Tech hope to make a big statement for even more national respect for themselves and the ACC. Check out CFN's Orange Bowl Preview & Prediction.

2011 Discover Orange

Va Tech
(11-2) vs. Stanford (11-1)

Monday, January 3rd, 8:00 ABC    

- Get Expert Football Picks from ATS Consultants - Absolutely Free.
- Get Tickets For Your Team, Any Game

SCROLL DOWN to the bottom for all the CFNers' confidence picks and bowl history

By Richard Cirminiello

For the first time in six years, the Orange Bowl has a match up it can point to with legitimate pride. Good for the committee. And good for fans who watched the last five games with mixed interest and a giant yawn.

The Orange Bowl caught a couple of breaks along the way, which made this pairing possible. First, Virginia Tech won the ACC, bringing to South Florida a nationally-recognized product and an 11-game winning streak. Next, with the second at-large selection, it was able to pluck Stanford out of the Pac-10, winners of seven in-a-row and ranked No. 4 in the BCS standings. Oh, and all eyes will be on Jim Harbaugh, the subject of a lot of buzz around Ann Arbor these days. Sure, Cardinal fans won't travel especially well across the country, but purely in terms of on-field match ups, this is one of the best offerings on the 35-game postseason menu.

Statistics In Yards
14th Total
22nd Total
9th Scoring
11th Scoring
17th Rushing
24th Rushing
29th Passing
34th Passing
4th Turnover Margin 1st
Position Rankings
5 Highest - 1 Lowest
S   VT
5 QBs 5
3.5 RBs 5
3.5 WRs 3
4 O Line 3
4 D Line 4
3.5 LBs 4
4 DBs 4
4.5 STs 5
5 Coach 5
CFN 2010 2011 CFN Bowl Previews & Confidence Picks
- New Mexico - BYU vs. UTEP
- Human. - Fresno St vs. NIU
- New Orleans - Troy vs. Ohio
- St. Pete - UL vs. So Miss
- Las Vegas - Utah vs. Boise St
- Poinsettia - SDSU vs. Navy
- Hawaii - Tulsa vs. Hawaii
- Little Caesars - Toledo vs. FIU
- Ind. - Air Force vs. GT
- Champs - NC St vs. WVU
- Insight - Iowa vs. Mizz
- Military - Mary. vs. ECU
- Texas - Illinois vs. Baylor
- Alamo - Ok St vs. Arizona
- Armed Forces - SMU vs. Army
- Pinstripe - SU vs. KSU
- Music City - UNC vs. Tenn
- Holiday - Neb vs. Wash
- Meineke - USF vs. Clemson
- Sun - Miami vs. ND
- Liberty - UCF vs. Georgia
- Chick-fil-A - FSU vs. USC
- TicketCity - NW vs. TT
- Outback - PSU vs. Florida
- Capital One - MSU vs. Bama
- Gator - Mich vs. Miss St
- GoDaddy - MU vs. MT
- Cotton - A&M vs. LSU
- Compass - Pitt vs. UK
- Kraft - BC vs. Nevada
- Rose - UW vs. TCU
- Fiesta - OU vs. UConn
- Orange - Stan. vs. VT
- Sugar - Ark. vs. OSU
- BCS Champ. - Aub. vs. Oregon
The Hokies are on the verge of closing out one of the more remarkable campaigns in program history. At 0-2, having lost to Boise State and James Madison in a span of five days, who'd have imagined this kind of season would have been possible? Tech has gone on to become the only school in FBS history to win 11 straight after losing its first two, and is the only program to win at least 10 games in each of the last seven seasons. In Blacksburg, it all boils down to veteran leadership, from head coach Frank Beamer and defensive coordinator Bud Foster to senior QB Tyrod Taylor. Piece-by-piece, Virginia Tech put its tattered season back together, regrouping behind the running game and an opportunistic D. Not only have the Hokies gone nearly four months without a loss, but only one opponent came within 10 points of an upset.

Virginia Tech will be carrying two flags into Miami, its own burnt orange and Chicago maroon one and that of the ACC. In 12 tries, the conference has won just two of these games, the Hokies in the 2009 Orange Bowl and Florida State in the 2000 Sugar Bowl. The big-game postseason futility is one of the key reasons the conference doesn't get a whole lot of national respect. With a win here, Tech will have authored one of the great in-season turnarounds in recent history, rising into the top 10 in the same year it lost to a middling FCS opponent.

In four years on the Farm, Stanford's Harbaugh has been nothing short of a miracle worker. He's won 19 games over the last two seasons, turning a program on the rocks into one that's just, well, rocked. The Cardinal was a bad half of football in Eugene three months ago away from playing for a national championship. Stanford even being in that discussion is downright miraculous. Plus, having back-to-back Heisman runner-ups, RB Toby Gerhart followed by QB Andrew Luck, shows that the school can reload even after losing a signature player. As long as Harbaugh sticks around, a major concern now that his alma mater is interested, you get the feeling Stanford will be a player on the national scene.

Yeah, Luck is the cover boy, and for good reason, but the Cardinal's success has truly been a collaboration, one more reason to feel great about the future. The running game averaged more than 200 yards a game. The O-line leads the country in sacks allowed. And the defense, under the guidance of first-year coordinator Vic Fangio, pitched three shutouts, all against Pac-10 teams. Stanford can beat you in a multitude of different, which is why no one has beaten it since Oct. 2.

The Orange Bowl caught a break this winter. So did you. You get to sit back on Jan. 3 and watch two of the nation's hottest teams duke it out at Sun Life Stadium.

Players to Watch: The Virginia Tech backfield is absolutely loaded with depth and talent, especially since it's gotten a month off from contact. Four different players rushed for at least 473 yards, including Taylor, who can feel pressure, escape it, and make defenses pay with his feet. Darren Evans has a team-high 817 yards and 11 scores, but that had a lot to do with a partially torn hamstring that cost Ryan Williams four games. A healthy Williams is one of the nation's premier runners, especially when he's contemplating whether or not to leave early for the NFL Draft. Throw in the shiftiness and big-play potential of David Wilson (who'll miss the first quarter after being disciplined for missing curfew), and Beamer's biggest concern will be keeping all of his backs adequately fed.

Fangio's first order of business was to shift Stanford's defensive alignment to a 3-4 in order to make the most of its linebacker talent. It's worked for a program that quietly ranks in the top half of the Pac-10 in every major statistical category. The coach inherited four playmakers, Shayne Skov, Chase Thomas, Tom Keiser, and Owen Marecic, who doubles as the team's fullback. While Skov is one of the country's up-and-coming run-stoppers, Thomas and Keiser will be used liberally on the blitz. These four defenders will be spying the Hokie backs and tight ends throughout the evening.

There'll be no better match up than when Luck drops back to pass and begins to survey the field. He'll see a veteran collection of his own receivers ... and one of the most talented secondaries in America. The sophomore will take solace in the Cardinal running routes. Ryan Whalen is a former walk-on, who has emerged over the years as one of the Pac-10's most polished all-around receivers. Chris Owusu is the long-ball threat. And when Owusu and Whalen were dinged up, veteran Doug Baldwin stepped in to make a team-high 56 catches for 824 yards and nine touchdowns. They, along with tight ends Coby Fleener and Zach Ertz, have developed a rhythm with Luck. However, ...

... Virginia Tech has a secondary capable of disrupting that chemistry. As has often been the case in Blacksburg, the Hokies are flush with next level talent in the defensive backfield, ranking eighth nationally in pass efficiency defense and picking off 22 passes. Luck's biggest concern will be navigating the triumvirate of S Davon Morgan and corners Jayron Hosley and Rashad Carmichael. Hosley is just a sophomore, but already looks as if he'll be playing on Sundays, showing great hips and instincts. He's picked off eight passes, but it's not as if looking to the other side of the field will provide much of a reprieve.

Stanford will win if ...  the O-line dominates.

If there's a relative weakness on Virginia Tech, it's the front seven, which was bullied at times this season. It's a good group of down linemen and linebackers, but you have to be better than good to get a push on the Cardinal front wall. The ensemble of Chase Beeler, Jonathan Martin, Derek Hall, David DeCastro, and Andrew Phillips is comprised of three first team All-Pac-10 selections and a pair of honorable mention choices. All season, they've built a firewall around Luck, allowing just five sacks, while opening gaping holes for RB Stepfan Taylor. Provided the line contains speed rusher Steven Friday and blitzing LB Bruce Taylor, the run-pass mix is going to give fits to this defense. The Hokies yield just 19 points a game, but haven't faced an offense this potent and diverse all season.

Virginia Tech will win if ...  it runs the ball at least 40 times and for at least 200 yards.

While it's not as easy as it sounds, the Hokies need to be more physical than the Cardinal, controlling the clock, wearing it down, and keeping Luck & Co. on the sidelines. If Tech is going to win this one, it'll be because of the backs, Williams, Evans, and Wilson. Sure, Stanford is 24th in the country against the run, but that ranking is a little deceptive. The defense is allowing more than four yards a carry and has just marginal talent along the defensive line. The Tech offensive line doesn't have to be as effective as Stanford, but it will be instrumental to the final outcome. It has to open holes and allow Taylor to make things happen on play-action, finding receivers Jarrett Boykin and Danny Coale for back-breaking connections over the top.

What will happen: Stanford is a complete football team. The Orange Bowl provides an opportunity for Harbaugh to spread that message to an entirely new corner of the map.

This game will be as good as advertised, with interesting match ups dotting the two-deep. The battle between the quarterbacks, Stanford's Luck and Tech's Taylor, will rise to the level of expectations as well. However, this one will be won at the point of attack. As good as the Hokie defense has been, it's going to bow to a Cardinal offensive line that might be as dominant as any in America. While Taylor and the Virginia Tech runners will keep things competitive for all four quarters, Stanford will wear the Hokies down, blending Taylor's running with the passing of Luck. It'll be a statement win for the entire Cardinal program, which is still a little light in the recognition department, considering what it's achieved in 2010.

CFN Prediction: Stanford 33 … Virginia Tech 24 ... Line: Stanford -3
-Free Expert Football Predictions | Get Tickets For This Game

Pick ATS: Stanford  Confidence Score: 39
OVERALL CONFIDENCE (35 most - 1 least): 12 out of 35

Pete Fiutak: Pick ATS - Stanford  Pick Confidence - 1
- A fascinating game, Stanford needs this win to justify the lofty status and all the respect it received throughout the second half of the season. The biggest win was over Notre Dame ... yippee. Beating Virginia Tech would prove that the Cardinal was the real deal, while Tyrod Taylor and the ACC Champions are looking to further cement themselves as the superpower that doesn't get the respect it deserves. Both teams are tough and physical, and this should be a heavyweight fight.

Richard Cirminiello: Pick ATS - Stanford  Pick Confidence - 14
- Oklahoma can't possibly be upset in the Fiesta Bowl for a third time, right? Right. The talent gap between the Sooners and Connecticut is much wider than it was with Boise State and West Virginia.

Matt Zemek: Pick ATS - Stanford   Pick Confidence - 29
- Finally, the Orange Bowl gets a sexy matchup for the first time since Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden met in the 2006 game between Penn State and Florida State. This is a high-level matchup that will feature old-fashioned power football between the tackles and vertical passing from two quality quarterbacks. The Pac-10 gets only its third BCS at-large team in the 13-year BCS era. This will be a big night for both teams and conferences in Miami.

Russ Mitchell: Pick ATS - Virginia Tech  Pick Confidence - 2
- Talk about another program that benefited from a weaker-than-cheap-paper-towel schedule. The Cardinal beat only three bowl teams: Notre Dame (7-5), Washington (6-6), and the incredibly shrinking Arizona Wildcats (7-5). None of whom are ranked. Yet Stanford is ranked… fourth. Who says we need a playoff?

Barrett Sallee: Pick ATS - Stanford  Pick Confidence -12
- Andrew Luck vs. Bud Foster's defense with a month to prepare? Usually, the "other" BCS bowls are snooze-fests. This won't be.

Gabe Harris: Pick ATS - Virginia Tech  Pick Confidence - 9
Brian Harbach: Pick ATS - Virginia Tech   Pick Confidence - 19
Matthew Smith: Pick ATS - Stanford  Pick Confidence - 6
Billy Gomila: Pick ATS - Stanford  Pick Confidence -  26
Clucko (A coin flip): Pick ATS - Stanford  Pick Confidence -  19
Orange Bowl History
2010 Iowa 24, Georgia Tech 14
2009 Virginia Tech 20, Cincinnati 7
2008 Kansas 24, Virginia Tech 21
2007 Louisville 24, Wake Forest 13
2006 Penn St 26, Florida St 23 3OT
2005 USC 55, Oklahoma 19
2004 Miami 16, Florida State 14
2003 USC 38, Iowa 17
2002 Florida 56, Maryland 23
2001 Oklahoma 13, Florida State 2
2000 Michigan 35, Alabama 34 (OT)
1999 Florida 31, Syracuse 10
1998 Nebraska 42, Tennessee 17
1997 Nebraska 41, Virginia Tech 21
1996 Florida St 31, Notre Dame 26
1995 Nebraska 24, Miami 17
1994 Florida State 18, Nebraska 16
1993 Florida State 27, Nebraska 14
1992 Miami 22, Nebraska 0
1991 Colorado 10, Notre Dame 9
1990 Notre Dame 21, Colorado 6
1989 Miami 23, Nebraska 3
1988 Miami 20, Oklahoma 14
1987 Oklahoma 42, Arkansas 8
1986 Oklahoma 25, Penn State 10
1985 Washington 28, Oklahoma 17
1984 Miami 31, Nebraska 30
1983 Nebraska 21, LSU 20
1982 Clemson 22, Nebraska 15
1981 Oklahoma 18, Florida State 17
1980 Oklahoma 24, Florida State 7
1979 Oklahoma 31, Nebraska 24
1978 Arkansas 31, Oklahoma 0
1977 Ohio State 27, Colorado 10
1976 Oklahoma 14, Michigan 6
1975 Notre Dame 13, Alabama 11
1974 Penn State 16, LSU 9
1973 Nebraska 40, Notre Dame 6
1972 Nebraska 38, Alabama 6
1971 Nebraska 17, LSU 12
1970 Penn State 10, Missouri 3
1969 Penn State 15, Kansas 14
1968 Oklahoma 26, Tennessee 24
1967 Florida 27, Georgia Tech 12
1966 Alabama 39, Nebraska 28
1965 Texas 21, Alabama 17
1964 Nebraska 13, Auburn 7
1963 Alabama 17, Oklahoma 0
1962 LSU 25, Colorado 7
1961 Missouri 21, Navy 14
1960 Georgia 14, Missouri 0
1959 Oklahoma 21, Syracuse 6
1958 Oklahoma 48, Duke 21
1957 Colorado 27, Clemson 21
1956 Oklahoma 20, Maryland 6
1955 Duke 34, Nebraska 7
1954 Oklahoma 7, Maryland 0
1953 Alabama 61, Syracuse 6
1952 Georgia Tech 17, Baylor 14
1951 Clemson 15, Miami 14
1950 Santa Clara 21, Kentucky 13
1949 Texas 41, Georgia 28
1948 Georgia Tech 20, Kansas 14
1947 Rice 8, Tennessee 0
1946 Miami 13, Holy Cross 6
1945 Tulsa 26, Georgia Tech 12
1944 LSU 19, Texas A&M 14
1943 Alabama 37, Boston College 21
1942 Georgia 40, TCU 26
1941 Mississippi State 14, Georgetown 7
1940 Georgia Tech 21, Missouri 7
1939 Tennessee 17, Oklahoma 0
1938 Auburn 6, Michigan State 0
1937 Duquesne 13, Mississippi State 12
1936 Catholic 20, Mississippi 19
1935 Bucknell 26, Miami 0