The 2015 Independence Bowl will feature the Virginia Tech Hokies (6-6) versus the Tulsa Golden Hurricane (6-6). The question for me is: Which teams will show up for each squad?
The Golden Hurricane under Philip Montgomery averaged nearly 36 points per contest in his first season at Tulsa after leaving Baylor where he was Offensive Coordinator and QB coach under Art Briles. His squad averaged 330 yards through the air and 173 yards on the ground, albeit against other offensive-minded football team in the AAC. While the offensive numbers look pretty outstanding for Tulsa their defensive numbers are not so great. The squad gave up nearly 39 points per game, which is why they lost half and won half.
The Virginia Tech Hokies averaged 29 points per contest in 2015 while putting up 216 yards per game through the air and 151 on the ground. For the Hokies, however, it has always been about defense under Frank Beamer and the Hokies gave up 24 points per game. For me this game boils down to Virginia Tech's defense making plays against a fast-moving and high-powered offense. The Hokies will score, but not nearly with the ease that many of the AAC offenses did against Tulsa (it is sad, but those offenses are way better and moving the ball and scoring). The X-factor here is the quality, size and speed that Virginia Tech brings on defense, which will be new for Tulsa.
If Virginia Tech shows up and plays with the same passion that beat NC State, Georgia Tech and UVa then this game will go in favor of the odds maker, but if the ECU Hokies show up this game might not be much fun. Tulsa has plenty of athletes who can score running or catching the football, which makes me nervous. Virginia Tech has been very good this season when they only had to compete against 1-2 playmakers, but with Tulsa you find a balanced attack that is productive. Also, the Virginia Tech offense has lacked consistency since Danny Coale dropped that pass in New Orleans (still a catch), so who know which Scot Leoffler and Co. will show up.
I predict the Hokies to pull this game out, but it will be a close one. Stay tuned to GobblerCountry for all of you Indy Bowl coverage and our staff picks to come.