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Hokies vs. Bearcats Preview/Pick: Orange Bowl

Orange Bowl Virginia Tech Hokies vs. Cincinnati Bearcats

Virginia Tech is playing in its 16th straight bowl game, though it has lost all three of its appearances in BCS games. On the basis of fundamentals, it looks like clear edges should be going Cincinnati’s way.

BetUS NCAA Football Betting Odds: CINCINNATI -2.5, Total 41.5  

Here are some of the NCAA college football betting trends as they relate to this matchup:

* VT has won four of its last five games SU
* VT has covered three of its last eight games
* VT has played four of its last five games UNDER the total
* CIN has covered four of its last six games
* CIN has won its last six games SU
* CIN has played four of its last five games OVER the total

The Hokies are ranked 107th in total offense. Tyrod Taylor had 57% completions, but threw only two touchdown passes, so his team is rather one-dimensional when it is in attack mode. Virginia Tech allowed its QB’s to be sacked 39 times this year, while Cincinnati, the Big East champion, was ninth in the country in getting to the passer. The Bearcats are a confident bunch on the defensive side of the football, with ten seniors starting their last game. This is a team that has allowed just 3.2 yards a carry, and may be able to afford to go one-on-one with corners DeAngelo Smith and Mike Mickens (both of whom will be in the NFL) on Virginia Tech’s wide receivers in order to sell out against the run.

Virginia Tech has been able to assemble a running game behind Darren Evans, who ran for 1112 yards, and Taylor is an elusive signal-caller, with 691 yards of his own. In terms of the air attack, however, Cincinnati would appear to have a clear advantage. Tony Pike, a 6’6″: junior, came in to stabilize the quarterback position, completing 63% for 18 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. His wide receivers, Mardy Gilyard and Dominick Goodman, combined for 152 catches and 2095 yards. There is balance in the rushing game too, as Jacob Ramsey and John Goebel teamed up for 1211 yards.

Even with all that, we can make a case for the Virginia Tech side. Frank Beamer may be just 6-9, both straight-up and against the spread, in bowl games, but he’s got a lot more experience preparing teams for the post-season than counterpart Butch Kelly. Victor “Macho” Harris and Stephan Virgil are a damn good corner tandem, and may play a little shutdown with the Cincinnati wideouts, especially since one of them, Goodman, hasn’t had any contact since returning from a shoulder injury. Mickens is also just coming back from a knee injury, and the All-America corner hasn’t tested it much. Beamer’s staff may be able to neutralize the special teams edges Cincinnati usually gets with punter Kevin Huber.

There is the possibility that Beamer could also use Sean Glennon, more of a passer than Taylor, as a change of pace at quarterback. Either signal-caller will have more big game experience than Pike. The Hokies are seventh in the country in total defense (giving up 277 yards a game) so there won’t be any picnic for Pike out there, and there is something of a disparity in the turnover margin (VT is +10, while Cincinnati is at minus-6).

Virginia Tech put its best effort forward at the close of the season, with a 30-12 win over defensively-stout Boston College in the ACC title game, so they come into this contest with a head of steam, and there will be theme of “redemption” after last year’s Orange Bowl resulted in a 24-21 loss to Kansas.

In a small recommendation, we are going to take the points with Virginia Tech, the 2.5-point underdog in the BetUS NCAA college football sports betting odds.

Our PLAY: VIRGINIA TECH +2.5 *

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