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The Breakdown

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Posted: Saturday December 19, 1998 10:30 AM

Alabama
(7-4 record; Mike DuBose, 2nd season)
Virginia Tech
(8-3 record; Frank Beamer, 12th season)
School's Bowl Record: 28-17-3

Coach's Bowl Record: 0-0

Last Bowl Appearance: January 1997 Outback Bowl (beat Michigan 17-14)

Record in Music City Bowl: First appearance
School's Bowl Record: 3-8

Coach's Bowl Record: 2-3

Last Bowl Appearance: January 1998 Gator Bowl (lost to North Carolina 42-3)

Record in Music City Bowl: First appearance
Offensive Stud
Shaun Alexander, RB, Jr. (258 carries, 1,178 yards, 13 TDs): Cooled off considerably after a very hot start Al Clark, QB, Sr. (72-148, 1,050 yards, 9 TDs, 5 INTs): The leader of the offense has been hampered by injuries all season
Defensive Stud
Marcus Spencer, DB, Sr. (4 INTs, 69 tackles): Led the team in interceptions and was fourth in total tackles Corey Moore, DE, Jr. (14 sacks): Big East defensive player of the year leads a stifling Hokie attack
Player to Watch
Andrew Zow, QB, Fr. (143-256, 1,969 yards, 11 TDs, 7 INTs): Never mind experience, he shined after taking over the starting job in the middle of the season Keion Carpenter, DB, Sr. (5 INTs): One of two Hokies with 5 picks, also one of the top players on special teams
Key Stats
Even with Alexander in the backfield, Alabama is just 97th in the country in total rushing offense at 115.6 yards per game. Seventh in the nation in total defense, allowing just 284.9 yards per game.
Surprise Stat
The Tide is next to last in the SEC with a 50 percent field-goal conversion rate. Kicker Ryan Pflunger is just 11-of-22. The Hokies have blocked 10 kicks this season and 71 during Frank Beamer's 137-game reign in Blacksburg.
1998 Turning Point
The Tide nearly upset Florida on October 3 behind Zow, who took over the starting job from John David Phillips. Zow became the permanent starter after that and the Tide went 5-2 after that. Two heartbreaking losses to end the season. The first was to Syracuse on Donovan McNabb's last-second TD pass. The other was blowing a 22-point lead to in-state rival Virginia.
Key to Victory
Having Alexander put up his early-season numbers against one of the toughest defenses in the country. Overcoming the current emotional lows of two tough losses at the end of the season.
Outlook
Alabama is excited to be back in the bowl business but will be hard pressed to get their erratic offense going against a tough Hokie defense. The Hokie defense should be more than enough to shut down Alabama.

 
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