Match-up: Tulsa (AAC) Vs. Virginia Tech (ACC)
Spread: Virginia Tech (-13.5)
Location: Independence Stadium, Louisiana
When: Saturday, December 26th, 5:45 PM
Where to Watch: ESPN
Tulsa’s 2nd year in the AAC went better than it’s first, where they finished a measly 2-10. Though 6 wins isn’t groundbreaking, it was the first time Tulsa was remotely competitive since their 11-3 season in 2012, where they made an appearance in the Liberty Bowl. New coach Philip Montgomery has given the Golden Hurricanes something to look forward to in the coming years. There were some low points for this Tulsa team, including some brutal losses to Navy, Memphis, and East Carolina. They DID however play Oklahoma tougher than most teams have this season; there’s really no shame in losing 52-38 to Baker Mayfield and the Sooner’s, it’s kind of impressive for a team that doesn’t exactly have marquee talent. They head into this game following a 45-34 win over Tulane, and they boast the 11th best passing attack in the nation, as well as the 27th scoring offense.
Players to Watch
Dane Evans (QB) – Evans improved massively in his 2nd full year starting for Tulsa, as he threw for 3958 yards, 22 touchdowns, and only 8 touchdowns. The junior also averaged almost 9 yards per attempt. His 427 yard, 4 touchdown performance against Oklahoma in which he didn’t throw an interception in 51 attempts shows how talented he is; what a remarkable performance against a playoff team.
Keyarris Garrett (WR) – I don’t want to focus too much on the defense that ranks 120th in points per game allowed, so we’re doubling up on offense here. Garrett exploded this year, as he racked up 88 catches for 1451 yards and 7 touchdowns. The senior averaged 16.5 yards per catch. Against Memphis, he had 14 catches for 268 yards and 3 touchdowns… That’s ridiculous. On the opposite side, look for Joshua Atkinson, who had 932 receiving yards of his own, as these two form one of the best receiving duos in the nation.
How Tulsa Can Win
Just throw the ball… Virginia Tech isn’t exactly a high powered offense, but Tulsa is going to give up big points… They might as well just go out and sling it like they did against Oklahoma and Memphis, and hope that their defense makes some plays.
Virginia Tech Overview
This season doesn’t really matter honestly. What matters is that this is the last game the Frank Beamer will ever coach for the Hokies. He’s been there since 1987, where he put up a 360-237 record and took Virginia Tech to 23 (now 24) straight bowls since 1993. Regardless of what happened this season, this game is for Frank. I don’t care if this team is 13-0 or 1-11, this team will go out there and put their hearts out on the field for the longtime Virginia Tech coach.
Players to Watch
Isaiah Ford (WR) – The sophomore continues to grow, as he improved from his impressive freshman year, and put up 63 catches for 937 yards and 10 TDs. He’s caught 14 passes for 276 yards and 2 TDs over the last two games, so he’s been on fire. Look for him to make a few big plays this game.
Deon Clark (LB) – Clark will be looking to improve his draft stock here in his last game for the Virginia Tech Hokies. Clark had 77 tackles this season, and 10.5 of them resulted in losses. He also had 3 sacks, 6 quarterback hits, and 4 passes defended. He’ll be all over the field this game as he tries to make one more big statement before he enters the NFL draft.
How Virginia Tech Can Win
Like I said, this one is for Frank. Yes, Virginia Tech should take advantage of Tulsa’s porous defense, but in the end, just win this one for Frank… That’s it.
Final Score Prediction: Virginia Tech Wins 48-35
Brian Sullivan: @TheMadManSports
Photo Credit: http://shanahan.report/t/frank-beamer