Sugar Bowl: Virginia Tech vs. Michigan

January, 3, 2012
1/03/12
2:51
PM ET
Virginia Tech is looking for a school-record 12 wins, and a win over Michigan would make this senior class the winningest class in school history. Here’s a quick preview of tonight’s game:

WHO TO WATCH: Running back David Wilson. Will this be his last performance before he leaves early, or will the ACC’s Player of the Year stick around for his senior season? If this is the encore, you don’t want to miss it -- especially against Michigan’s stingy defense. Wilson ranks sixth nationally in rushing with 125.15 yards per game, and he has 1,627 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. He is 29 rushing yards from a single-season school record. He averages 6.12 yards per carry and has had 10 100-yard performances in the past 13 games.

WHAT TO WATCH: Virginia Tech’s defense against Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson. Despite injuries to three starters, the Hokies’ defense not only has shown measurable improvement from a year ago but also has evolved into one of the best in the country. It hasn’t faced a quarterback like Robinson, though. The Hokies are No. 13 in the country in total defense, No. 17 in rushing defense and, most importantly, No. 8 in scoring defense, holding opponents to just 17.23 points per game. Robinson is 13th on the NCAA’s career rushing list for QBs (3,216) and is in Michigan’s top 10 in rushing and passing yardage. He and running back Fitzgerald Toussaint are the first pair of Wolverines with 1,000 or more rushing yards in the same season since 1975.

WHY WATCH: To see whether the Hokies AND Wolverines are worthy of their at-large BCS bids. Both programs faced a lot of criticism when they were chosen over Kansas State, Boise State and Michigan State. Virginia Tech was a surprise pick, especially after being dominated for a second time this year by Clemson and because of its weak nonconference schedule. The Hokies have made no apologies, though, and are out to prove they belong in the Sugar Bowl. Then again, so is Michigan.

PREDICTION: Michigan 28, Virginia Tech 27: The Hokies will put forth an impressive, respectable effort, but Michigan’s will be more complete with key stops on defense and a quarterback who is the difference-maker.

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