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Both Kansas and Virginia Tech enjoyed storied seasons in 2007.



2008-01-03

Both Kansas and Virginia Tech enjoyed storied seasons in 2007. The Hokies, 11-2 SU & 7-5 ATS, won the ACC title while dedicating their effort to the memory of those lost in the horrific campus shootings in spring, while the Jayhawks produced their best record, 11-1, since 1899. The teams will meet in Thursday's Orange Bowl with Tech playing as a small favorite.

HC Mark Mangino's team boasted the best ATS record in the country as well, at 10-1, while outscoring opponents by a stellar 44.3-16.0 margin. Unfortunately, the only setback, to Missouri, came in the season finale, and cost them a shot at both the Big 12 & potential national titles. HC Frank Beamer's team struggled early in the season, but came on like gangbusters, winning their L5 games, both SU & ATS. All but one of those came against bowl teams as well. This is KU's first BCS-game ever, while Tech is 0-3 SU & 1-2 ATS in its prior three BCS appearances.

KANSAS
The Kansas Jayhawks, to the surprise of many, squeezed their way into the Bowl Championship Series' after an 11-1 record and sitting at #2 in the nation at one point in the season. "Rock! Chalk! Jayhawk!" could be heard along all of Kansas' bordering states, especially when they found out they had earned their first ever BCS-bowl bid. Led by sophomore QB Todd Reesing, they averaged 44.3 points per game. QB Reesing passed for 3,249 yards, 32 touchdowns, and just six interceptions. RB Brandon McAnderson rushed for more than 1,000 yards and 16 touchdowns as well. The Jayhawks defense was fabulous, allowing just 16 points per game also. Eight of their opponents were held to 14 points or less while junior LB Joe Mortensen toyed with opponents while accumulating 14 tackles for a loss. This is just Kansas' third Orange Bowl in school history and the first since 1969 when they were edged out by the undefeated Penn State Nittany Lions 15-14. Many doubt whether or not Kansas should have received this bid, especially over Missouri (the ‘Hawks lone loss), but defensively and offensively, the Jayhawks' have the weapons to prove the doubters wrong and earn their first ever Orange Bowl victory.

VIRGINIA TECH
In the aftermath of the Virginia Tech massacre last spring, the Hokies' football team vowed to bear the weight of the tragedy and win football games in salutation to those that were lost on campus. They did just that. Despite finishing 11-2, with losses to LSU and Boston College, the Hokies were able to get revenge on the Eagles and win the ACC Championship game. The Hokies' only setback has been on offense, where HC Frank Beamer played the QB-shuffle with QBs Sean Glennon and Tyrod Taylor. QB Taylor ended up getting injured and QB Glennon redeemed himself by leading the Hokies to consecutive wins and an eventual ACC title game tilt in which they won. RB Brandon Ore regressed after a 2006 season of more than 1,100 yards rushing. RB Ore failed to get 900 yards on the ground in 2007. The defense was spectacular as usual, led by a group of LBs that could be deemed as they best in the nation. The starting LBs, Xavier Adibi, Vince Hall, and Cam Martin, combined for 277 tackles, 11 sacks, and four interceptions. The Hokies are allowing just 15.5 points per game so look for them to try to maintain with the offense and dominate the time of possession.

THE GAME
In what will be a "bend but don't break" battle between two of 2007's great college football defenses, the offense that can find any weakness on the other's defense should prevail. Kansas is loaded with playmakers, from QB Reesing to WRs Marcus Henry and Dexton Fields. The Jayhawks' will have to gameplan around the Hokies' trio of talented LBs and CB Brandon Flowers, who has grabbed five interceptions on the year. Meanwhile, the Hokies, who lack playmakers on offense, will need to get RB Ore and the ground game going early and often. QB Glennon will have to play mistake-free football. Virginia Tech WR Justin Harper will have to step up big time, as he has been silent since their November 10th showdown against Florida State. Whichever defense holds down their fort the longest should guide their school to a victory in the 2008 Orange Bowl. If QB Todd Reesing can buy time, he should have plenty of room to stretch the Hokies' defense and find room to throw in the seams. The Hokies' will need to score on defense or special teams in order to help out the offense. Remember, the ACC is just 1-8 in BCS bowl games, while the Big 12 is 6-6.


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