Stanford Cardinal vs Virginia Tech Hokies Free Orange Bowl College Football Pick
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Date/Time: Monday, January 3, 8:30 PM EST
Venue: Sun Life Stadium in Miami, FL.
Stanford Cardinal vs. Virginia Tech Hokies College Betting Lines from Bookmaker
Money Line: Stanford (-165) Virginia Tech (+145)
Spread: Stanford -3 ½
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Stanford (11-1) and Virginia Tech (11-2) square off in the Orange Bowl in Miami on Jan. 3.
These are two of the hottest teams in the country. Stanford’s only loss was to Oregon in early October and many thought the Cardinal were playing the best football in the country by season’s end. Meanwhile, Tech has won 11 in a row following a 0-2 start. Once left for dead this year, the Hokies might be the most underrated team in college football.
Stanford is led by Heisman Trophy runner up and future first pick in the NFL draft Andrew Luck at quarterback. Luck threw for 3,045 yards with 28 touchdowns and seven picks and completed 70 percent of his passes. He also added 438 yards and three scores on the ground. He’s very hard to stop because of his great arm, accuracy, mobility, and toughness. When Luck isn’t distributing the ball to wideouts Doug Baldwin and Ryan Whalen, he’s handing off to a group of talented backs led by sophomore Stepfan Taylor, who rushed for 1,023 yards and 15 touchdowns. The Cardinal like to pound the ball with unorthodox, unbalanced line formations behind All-American fullback Owen Marecic. This is a tough, physical–yet cerebral–team that wears down opposing defenses.
The Cardinal defense is underrated. It is one of only two units–along with TCU’s–to pitch three shutouts this season. Stanford, led by talented linebacker Shayne Skov, is ninth nationally in scoring defense and second in the Pac-10 in total defense. The Cardinal is disciplined and fundamental, but not overly athletic in the back seven.
Virginia Tech is not unlike Stanford offensively. Like the Cardinals, the Hokies like to pound the ball first and foremost. Running backs Ryan Williams, David Wilson, and Darren Evans are elite talents and they combine to average almost 170 yards per game. But the heart and soul of this offense is quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who has quietly closed out his career in fine fashion. Taylor ended up with 2,521 yards with 23 touchdowns and just four interceptions, plus 637 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. He is athletic with a big arm and excellent leadership qualities. When he puts the ball in the air, he likes to go deep to speedsters Jarrett Boykin and Danny Coale. Taylor can drive defenses crazy with his ability to keep plays alive. Stanford has its work cut out for it.
The Hokie defense isn’t as formidable as in recent years, but it is filled with fine athletes who can run. Tech allowed just 19 points per game and was especially stingy in the final month. However, the Hokies haven’t taken on a top-flight offense since game one against Boise State. Can Tech handle the sophisticated Stanford offense? That’s a key question.
Stanford is favored by 3.5 points and the total is 58. I think the Cardinal offense will be too much for the Tech defense to handle, though Taylor should keep things close for the Hokies.
Free Pick: Stanford 34, Virginia Tech 23
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Matt Martz is a sports writer for the Bakersfield Californian located in Central California. Blessed is the gambler who expects nothing, for ye shall not be disappointed.