The Bearcats and Hokies are no strangers to each other. While the two teams have only played eight times, a couple of the games remain in the minds of many. For Bearcat fans the 1987 victory over the Hokies was one of the most played highlights at games the past several years. Now with the success seen over the past three years the Bearcats have replaced the Hokies highlight with many more.
In the Orange Bowl the Bearcats will look to have another long running highlight playing during games as winners of the Orange Bowl.
The two teams last battled in
Things have changed since that last meeting as Brian Kelly has entered the picture as the Bearcats head coach and guided them to an 11-2 mark and a Big East Championship this season.
While the two teams have no common opponents this season, both have been tested during the course of the season.
How do they breakdown? We take a look at the key players to watch for on Virginia Tech.
Key Offensive Players
Tyrod Taylor: Quarterback (Soph) #5 - A duel threat but not the player the Bearcats battled in Pat White of
Darren Evans: Running Back (FR) #32 – With a 4.3 average per carry Evans is a consistent back who rushed for over 1,000 yards this season. But this is not the same type of back the Hokies have placed on the field over the past several years and with injuries along the offensive line, Evans could be shutdown. Only a freshman, Evans does a good job of getting positive yardage and has only loss 35 yards on the season.
Jarrett Boykin: Flanker (FR) #81 – While the Hokies don't have the star power the Bearcats have in their receiving core they still have a few serviceable ones. Boykin is a solid player and only a freshman. For the season he's pulled down 28 balls for 413 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Victor Harris: Cornerback (SR) #1 – With six interceptions on the season and taking two of them back for touchdowns, Harris is a major player to be reckoned with as the Bearcats look to use their passing attack. Harris has also recorded 44 total tackles with 2.5 for loss while also recording 7 pass breakups.
Purnell Sturdivant: Linebacker (SR) #45 - With 91 total tackles and eight of them for loss Sturdivant has the ability to beat defenders and cause quarterbacks to rush their delivery.
Orion Martin: Defensive End (SR) #90 - With 7.5 sacks and 13 tackles for loss Martin is a player who will be looked upon to cause the Bearcats problems. Overall Martin isn't the best defender, but with Jason Worilds reported to be out for the Orange Bowl he'll have to pick up the slack.
Dustin Keys: Kicker (SR) #29 - Hitting 21-26 Keys has shown he's better than average when it come from kicking it through the uprights. He's almost perfect out to 39 yards having only missed one between 20-29 yards. Once he's at the 40 or beyond he's gone 5-9 with a long of 50 yards.
Justin Myer: Kicker (FR) #48 - Myer has had 58 kickoffs for 3,648 yards for a 62.9 average. 6 have been touchbacks while 3 have gone out of bounds.
Brent Bowden: Punter (JR) #97 - On 64 attempts Bowden has an average of 40.5 yards with a long of 57 yards. He's recorded 6 touchbacks with 22 inside the 20 and 12 punts of 50+ yards.
Kick & Punt Returns
The Hokies have not returned any kicks for touchdowns this season while giving up 3 punt returns for scores on the season.
This is the staple of "Beamer Ball" blocking kicks have become one area the Hokies have excelled in each season. This season they've blocked 5 kicks and have only allowed 2 blocks. Keep an eye on John Graves as he's blocked 3 on the season.