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Thursday, January 1, 2009
FedEx Orange Bowl preview


Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett

A brief primer on tonight's FedEx Orange Bowl between Cincinnati and Virginia Tech:

What to watch: How will Virginia Tech generate offense? The Hokies are not a great passing team, and testing the talented Cincinnati secondary would be dangerous. So it appears that their hopes rest on tailback Darren Evans and shifty quarterback Tyrod Taylor.

"Everybody knows what Virginia Tech wants to do," Cincinnati defensive end Connor Barwin said. "Tyrod Taylor is a lot like Matt Grothe -- he's going to make his plays outside the pocket -- and then he's fast like Pat White when he takes off and runs. Just like we did against those guys, we have to contain him and not let him get out of the pocket."

Who to watch: Quarterback Tony Pike has been remarkably efficient in some of the Bearcats biggest games. He was 20-of-28 against South Florida and 26-of-32 versus Pittsburgh. He'll need to be sharp against Virginia Tech's aggressive defensive backs and avoid his tendency to force throws into coverage.

Why to watch: Casual observers may shrug at a BCS matchup between Virginia Tech and Cincinnati, but this shapes up as possibly the most competitive game of all the BCS bowls. Cincinnati is a fun team to watch, and if you're a Big East fan, you have to root for your league to win its fourth straight BCS game.