Posted: Thursday December 22, 2005 4:00PM; Updated: Friday December 23, 2005 3:05PM
Bowl Breakdown: Gator
No. 12 Va. Tech (10-2) vs. No. 15 Louisville (9-2)
Jan. 2, 12:30 p.m. (NBC)
Alltel Stadium (77,228)
SI.com's Stewart Mandel analyzes the matchup.
Breaking down Virginia Tech
Senior defensive end Darryl Tapp (10 sacks) leads a Tech D which has allowed just 240 yards a game.
Doug Benc/Getty Images
The Hokies fielded one of the stingiest defenses in the country this season, allowing just 12 points and 240 yards per game. Defensive end Darryl Tapp is a disruptive force who constantly demands double teams. A fast, athletic linebacker corps, led by Vince Hall, shuts down opposing running games. Most teams avoid passing at All-America cornerback Jimmy Williams.
The key to Techs' offense is quarterback Marcus Vick, a polished passer who stays in the pocket more than brother Michael, but can still break big plays with his feet. His favorite target is receiver David Clowney, though tight end Jeff King is a dependable target as well. The common thread in the Hokies' two losses, to Miami and Florida State, was the lack of a running game.
Breaking down Louisville
Bobby Petrino's powerful offense scored at least 40 points eight times, but star quarterback Brian Brohm is out for this game with a torn ACL. His replacement, Hunter Cantwell, was decent in his lone start against Connecticut. Petrino likes to mix spread formations with power football, and the Cardinals run the ball well behind 250-pound tailback Michael Bush and a talented, veteran line.
Louisville's defense imploded in losses to South Florida and West Virginia. In general, however, the Cards get great pressure on opposing quarterbacks, with defensive end Elvis Dumervil, who led the nationwith 20 sacks. Montavious Stanley is a solid pass-rusher as well. Linebacker Brandon Johnson is a decent playmaker. Art Carmody is a dependable, long-range kicker.
No opponent has been able to run the ball consistently against the Hokies, which doesn't bode well for Bush and Louisville. Cantwell, making just his second start, will have to deal with heavy pressure from Tapp & Co. Dumervil and Johnson may be able to force turnovers from Vick, but for the most part he should be able to burn Louisville's defense.