December 29, 2008

FedEx Orange Bowl -- Cincinnati (11-2) vs. Virginia Tech (9-4) (Dolphin Stadium Miami, Florida January 1, 2009 8:30pm FOX)

Tie Ins: Big East Champ vs. ACC Champ

Dan: Cincy -1.5

I have gone with Va Tech a couple times this year. Each time though, I kept getting burned. While it would not surprise me if Beamer has his team fired up and ready and they take down the Bearcats. However, I think Brian Kelly’s commitment to the program in Cincy is starting to pay dividends. I expect them to play inspired football, hitting hard and going non-stop just like they have played all year.

Cincy 24 Va Tech 21

Matt: Cincy -1.5

I really could go either way here. As much as Brian Kelly appears to be a coach on the rise, it’s tough to go against BeamerBall in a big game against an unproven opponent. In the end, it comes down to who do I think is the better team, and that is Cincy. If they play their aggressive game, they should be able to beat VT. Just don’t let Tyrod Taylor beat you and don’t have any dumb special teams plays. I hear there are plenty of good seats available for this one.

UC 24 VT 20

Mike: Virginia Tech +1.5

When pundits mention their disdain for the BCS, they never seem to recognize that the primary rationale behind the creation of the BCS was not really to give us a true “national champion.” Rather, the BCS is the product of a cartel that sought to guarantee that its members would have annual access to a giant chunk of money. In other words, the BCS exists solely to serve the financial interests of the “Big 6” conferences through automatic inclusion in the most lucrative bowls. Consequently, we get ACC-induced snoozefests each year, such as Wake Forest-Louisville, Kansas-Virginia Tech and this year’s clunker.

Virginia Tech 20 Cincinnati 16

Doug: Cincinnati -1.5

A little background since I’m headed down there for the game this week. First of all, the Orange Bowl is HURTING this year with regard to ticket sales. I mean, real bad. Part of it is the economy and part of it is the teams in the game, but there is literally no demand for this game. I originally planned to buy tickets to this game through the UC athletic department since I knew they were going to be pushing it to sell out their ticket allotment (approximately 17,500 tickets). I figured any contribution to the total would be good for UC football and their reputation for bowl travel in the future. Well, that was my plan anyway.

About a week or so after tickets went on sale, articles started popping up about the lack of demand in the Miami area. There were reports that tickets were going for $10 on Stubhub. I figured that I might as well take a peek at Stubhub just to see if the rumors were true, and I can confirm that they were. People are literally giving away tickets to this game. There were $200 club seats and $250 sideline seats going for $40-50 all over the place on Stubhub. It’s hard to turn down deals like that, and a lot of the ticket packages on Stubhub threw in a bunch of extra perks (parking passes, tailgate party passes, programs, souvenirs, etc) to up the ante. It’s great for the fans since we can get outrageous seats at bargain basements prices, but I have to think the Orange Bowl is upset about the lack of demand for this game.

From the UC side, it’s obviously the biggest football game in school history, and it seems like a lot of Cincy people are going to make the trip. With the Bengals wrapping up another typical losing season, fans in Cincy are looking for a team to get behind. I think there is a lot of excitement for this game from the UC side, and UC has already sold out their ticket allotment. Not bad for a school that has had trouble selling out their own stadium. With all the people from Ohio who are living down in Southwest Florida (Ft. Myers, Naples, Sarasota, etc), I’m glad to see that the Bearcat Nation stepped up for this game.

As for Virginia Tech, let’s just say that they aren’t quite as fired up about this game. I can’t say that I blame them. They’ve been in the Orange Bowl a few times now, and I can understand why they aren’t all that fired up about going back to Miami to play a team like UC with no tradition and no big name players. Virginia Tech has rebounded nicely, but they still went 9-4 this year. Virginia Tech fans have been spoiled by the great success of their program in the last decade. I can see why they are having trouble selling their tickets. It sounds like they are going to eat about half of their ticket allotment. Yikes.

If I was the Orange Bowl, I’d be petitioning the BCS to get rid of the ACC and Big East tie ins. The Orange Bowl is one of the legendary bowl games out there, and you can’t beat the Miami location. South Beach, great weather, great tradition, great food. There is a lot to offer, but the Orange Bowl keeps getting stuck with these weak games. What are those tie ins doing for that bowl?? If anything, they are killing the Orange Bowl. You have the Fiesta Bowl grabbing quality teams from the Big 12 every year, the Rose Bowl gets USC and the Big Ten, and then you have the two weakest conferences going to the Orange Bowl. UC-Virginia Tech is the type of game that should be on at noon on ESPNU. You are just asking for a half-filled stadium for a game like that.

With that backdrop in mind, you would assume that Cincy has a major edge when it comes to motivation for this game. Here’s my concern though. Cincy might be a little TOO jacked up and nervous for this game. This game is being viewed as a make or break moment for the program. It’s almost like there is too much riding on it. For Virginia Tech, they can just go in and try to win the football game. Frank Beamer is a great coach who knows how to win these types of games, and he might be viewing this game as an opportunity to get a jump start on the 2009 season. Virginia Tech came alive under Tyrod Taylor down the stretch.

The Bearcats had a remarkable year with an 11-2 season, but I can’t shake that turrrrrible performance in Hawaii out of my mind. After watching ND throttle Hawaii, I am a little concerned as to why Cincy needed a miracle comeback to win that game against the Warriors. Tony Pike is a good quarterback, but UC has trouble running the ball. If Virginia Tech turns them into a one-dimensional team, it could be trouble. The good news for UC is that their special teams are outstanding, and VT’s offense is really not all that great. One key for UC will be to avoid turnovers and dumb penalties. They have a tendency to shoot themselves in the foot at times. If UC can keep this game as a low scoring affair, they have a great shot to win.

I am not going to lie that UC might be in a little bit over their head in this game, but I have no choice but to support the Bearcats. I’m a believer in Brian Kelly, and I think he is going to have his team play inspired football in front of a national tv audience on Fox. Thank god for ESPN taking over the BCS in a couple years by the way. Having the BCS games on Fox is a joke. Complete amateur hour in every way.

I’m looking forward to getting down to Miami for the game. I sort of wish they still played the game at the original Orange Bowl instead of at Dolphins Stadium. Dolphins Stadium looks nice, but it’s not even really in Miami. Oh well. I’m hoping to join the Bearcat Nation in partying it up on South Beach after a big BCS bowl win.

Cincinnati 24 Virginia Tech 21

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