Orange Bowl Preview: Kansas Jayhawks (11-1) +3, 54 O/U vs. Virginia Tech Hokies (11-2) -3, 54 O/U, Dolphins Stadium, Miami, Florida, 8 PM Eastern, Thursday, January 3rd
by Badger of Predictem.com
The Bowl Championship Series (BCS) set up a surprising but interesting Orange Bowl when they picked the Kansas Jayhawks to play the Virginia Tech Hokies.
Surprising in the fact that the BCS skipped over Missouri and chose Kansas instead, despite the Jayhawks loss to Missouri head-to-head. Interesting in that it could be one of the most entertaining BCS games of 2008, as both teams play with such contrasting styles that it could make this an exciting game.
Kansas last played on November 24th in the 36-28 loss to Missouri, the Jayhawks only loss of the season. Kansas did play a softer schedule this season (Toledo, Florida International, Central Michigan – no Oklahoma or Texas in Big 12 play), and it showed in the loss to Mizzou in a bowl-like atmosphere/neutral-site game at Arrowhead Stadium.
Virginia Tech has been one of, if not “the” hottest team in the NCAA down the stretch. The Hokies are winners of five straight games, including their 30-16 victory in the ACC Championship game over Boston College on December 1st.
Oddsmakers opened the point spread for this game with the Hokies as 3- point favorites, with a 54-point total.
Kansas employs a spread-offense passing attack that could give Virginia Tech some problems. Kansas quarterback Todd Reesing (3,254 yards, 32-6 TD-INT) is quick in his reads and runs a potent attack (490.7ypg – 6th in NCAA) that averages an impressive 44.3 points per game (2nd).
Virginia Tech is more traditional on offense, using a good running game with Brandon Ore (877 yards, 9 TD’s) to set up play-action passing with quarterback Sean Glennon. Glennon is the Hokies best throwing quarterback, and hes played really well of late (434 yds., 4 TD, 67% passing in last two games). The Hokies also play double- threat Tyrod Taylor at quarterback a few times every game. Taylor is a dangerous runner (431 yards, 6 TD’s) who could give Kansas trouble if he can get out on the edge.
Defensively the Hokies boast the 5th-ranked unit in the land. Not only to the keep teams under 300 yards (293.3), they also do a great job of keeping teams from scoring too, allowing a 2nd-best 15.5 points per game average. However, by far the weakest link in the Hokies D is their secondary, as they slip to 29th in the country allowing 207.3 yards passing each game.
Kansas has decent numbers on the defensive side of the ball (13th overall – 318.2 ypg.; 7th vs. run (89.8); 62nd vs. pass (228.4), and has done a good job of keeping the ball out of the end zone allowing just 16 points a game (5th), but again the lack of competition they have faced has skewed those numbers.
If you’ve been paying attention to this season, you probably already know that Kansas as been a virtual cash machine for bettors this season. The Jayhawks are 10-1 ATS with the lone loss being the Mizzou game.
Virginia Tech has also been popular amongst sports bettors during their winning streak, covering the spread in all five of those games while going 7-1 ATS in their last 8 games.
There are also some betting trends toward the over in this one. Neither is particularly good for the season (Kansas 5-6, VaTech 6-6), but Virginia Tech has gone over in three of their last four games. Historically, Kansas is an over team with a 6-2 record in their last 8 games as an underdog and 14-6 in their last 20 non- conference games.
There hasn’t been a whole lot of line movement on this game early, as it has pretty much stayed at Virginia Tech -3 with a 54 over/under. Although there are a few Las Vegas Sportsbooks that have moved it up to -3.5 already as the early money is coming in on the Hokies.
Badgers Pick: I really like the over in this game. Virginia Tech will have trouble with the Kansas offense for a few quarters because nobody in the ACC plays the spread-attack like the Jayhawks (i.e. early and easy Kansas scores). I also think the Hokies offense will be able to play catch-up and make it a good game that goes over the total. I also like Kansas in this one if the spread gets bigger (up to -4 or more). I still think the Hokies offense will be chasing all game, making it more of a late field goal kind of game. Take Kansas plus the points.