Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Chick-fil-A Bowl preview
By Heather Dinich
Here's a quick look at Thursday night's Chick-fil-A Bowl between Virginia Tech and Tennessee:
WHO TO WATCH: Virginia Tech running back Ryan Williams. He needs 110 rushing yards against Tennessee to break Kevin Jones’ single-season school record, and needs two touchdowns to break the ACC’s record for touchdowns in a season. He’s scored at least one touchdown in seven of the past eight quarters and already has nine 100-yard games -- a Tech freshman record that is tied for the school record.
WHAT TO WATCH: Beamerball. This game has the ingredients to be a close, tightly contested game, with two teams trying to grind it out on the ground. That means there’s a good possibility the game could be decided with aggressive special teams play, a timely blocked kick and/or good field position. The Hokies have the edge in every statistical special teams category and rank among the top 25 in both kickoff return yardage defense and kickoff returns. They’re also No. 16 in the nation in turnover margin.
WHY WATCH: It's a long overdue regional matchup, and Virginia Tech has a chance to become just the second program in the country to reach 10 wins for the sixth straight season. But the Hokies are 0-2 in the Georgia Dome and 0-2 in the city of Atlanta this year. It’s also a chance for Virginia Tech to end consecutive seasons with a bowl victory for the first time in program history. A win should start the Hokies off among the top 10 in the preseason rankings.
PREDICTION: Virginia Tech’s experience on the sideline – veteran Frank Beamer vs. hotshot rookie Lane Kiffin – will make a difference, and so will Williams. With Tennessee boasting safety Eric Berry, the Hokies are going to want to keep quarterback Tyrod Taylor out of third-and-long situations and win with their ground game. The Hokies will come up with a game-changing play on defense or special teams, win the turnover battle and in turn the game, 24-21.