SAN FRANCISCO (Ticker) -- The inaugural San Francisco Bowl matches two schools that saw high hopes fade rapidly after promising starts.
No. 19 Virginia Tech (9-4) won its first eight games and had hopes of playing in the Fiesta Bowl. But the Hokies lost three straight and four of their final five to fall into a lower-tier bowl.
The regular season ended with a 56-45 loss to top-ranked Miami, the most points allowed by the Hokies since a 60-0 loss to Washington & Lee in 1951.
Air Force (8-4) won its first six contests and was considered a possible candidate for an at-large BCS berth. The Falcons came back to earth with a 21-14 loss to Notre Dame, the first of three straight defeats.
Both schools make a living running the football.
Air Force leads the nation in rushing with 314.5 yards per game. Quarterback Chance Harridge effectively runs the Falcons' option offense, having rushed for 1,159 yards and 22 touchdowns.
Virginia Tech relies on the potent duo of Lee Suggs and Kevin Jones. Suggs, who will be playing the final game of his college career, ran for 1,255 yards and 20 touchdowns this season.
Suggs has scored a touchdown in 26 straight games.
Air Force coach Fisher DeBerry seeks his 150th career victory. He is 149-82-1 in his 19 seasons as coach, all at the academy.
The only meeting between the schools was a 23-7 win by Air Force at the 1984 Independence Bowl. The Hokies have lost four of their last six bowl games, most recently a 30-17 setback to Florida State in the Gator Bowl last season.