Virginia Tech Hokies (9-3, 6-2) vs. Tennessee Volunteers (7-5, 4-4)
2009 Peach Bowl
Time: 7:30 p.m. EST
Date: Thursday, Dec. 31, 2009
Place: Georgia Dome (71,228), Atlanta, Ga.
Tennessee: The Vols finished their regular season with a thrilling overtime win over rival Kentucky ... after missing out on bowl season last year, Tennessee returns to the postseason under first-year head coach Lane Kiffin ... the Vols' solid finish (4-1) was sparked by the play of their often maligned quarterback, Jonathan Crompton (think Sean Glennon with a porn 'stache) ... the senior threw 12 touchdowns and two interceptions in Tennessee's last five regular season games ... legendary safety Eric Berry needs 15 interception return yards to break the NCAA record in that category ... he'll be working hard to get that record in what will likely be his last college game.
Trends: The Hokies have won four consecutive games after back-to-back losses to GT and UNC ... Tennessee has won four of its last five games ... Virginia Tech has lost four consecutive games against SEC opponents, including this year's opener against Alabama in the Chick-fil-a Kickoff Classic in the Georgia Dome ... Tennessee has not faced an ACC opponent since the 2004 Peach Bowl when it lost to Clemson ... since the start of the 2000 college football season, Virginia Tech is 5-4 in bowls and Tennessee is 3-4.
History Lesson: This is the teams' first meeting since the 1994 Gator Bowl in Gainesville, Fla., won 45-23 by Tennessee ... that was their first meeting since 1937 ... the Hokies are 2-5 all-time against the Volunteers with their last win coming in 1911 ... the Hokies are 0-2 against the Vols on neutral fields.
What to Expect:
- The Vols are a very balanced team. They ran 279 run plays (w/o sacks) for and 251 pass plays (w/ sacks) in conference games.
- It will be interesting to watch the Tech defensive line on passing downs in this game. The Hokies had the 2nd-most sacks in ACC play this year (26) while Tennessee gave up the fewest sacks in SEC games this year (6). Expect Jason Worilds and Co. to have to work hard to get pressure in this game.
- Expect to see a good dose of Montario Hardesty. He carried the ball over 23 times per game in league games and averaged over 100 yards per game. Tennessee was 5-0 in games Hardesty ran for over 100 yards. In the Vols last two games, he had 32 carries for 171 yards against Vandy and 39 carries for 179 yards against Kentucky. Hardesty will get his yards against the Hokies. We just have to make sure he gets them in very small increments. Unfortunately we won't see much of my favorite UT running back, David Oku. He had one carry in the Vols' last three games.
- Expect the Hokies to struggle if the ground game doesn't get going. The Vols finished in the Top 10 in the country in passing defense, led by the All-World Berry. The Vols have not allowed a crooked number of passing touchdowns to any team they've faced this year and two passing touchdowns in their last seven games.
- Expect Tyrod Taylor to have to get key yards with his legs due to Tennessee's pass defense. The only real dual-threat QB the Vols have faced this year was The Tebow Child. Against Tennessee, Tebow ran 24 times for 76 yards (3.2) and a touchdown. Will Tyrod's agility at quarterback give Tennessee fits? I'm hoping so.
- Tennessee was in the middle of the pack of the SEC at covering kickoffs, giving up over 22 yards per return and two touchdowns. The Hokies led the ACC in kick return average at over 24 yards per return. Their lone TD came in the Georgia Dome in the season opener against Alabama. Hopefully Tennessee won't be kicking off much in this game, but when they do look for Dyrell Roberts to have some success.
Hokies win if: They get pressure on Crompton and establish the run game.
Volunteers win if: Hardesty runs for over 100 yards and they win the turnover battle.
Dot-dot-dots: Frank Beamer is 3-6 against the SEC since coming to Virginia Tech in 1987 ... Virginia Tech is 8-14 in bowls and 7-9 under Beamer ... it is 1-2 in the Peach Bowl ... Tennessee is 25-22 in bowl, 6-5 in bowls against the ACC and 1-3 in the Peach Bowl ... Ryan Williams has 1,596 rushing yards this year ... he needs 117 rushing yards to break the Virginia Tech single-season rushing record set by Kevin Jones in 2003, including the bowl game.