Virginia Tech will be appearing in a bowl game for the 22nd time when it faces Cincinnati in the Orange Bowl. The Hokies are playing in their 16th consecutive bowl game, and 2nd straight Orange Bowl. Virginia Tech has the nation's third-longest current string of bowl game appearances.
The Hokies are just 7-14 in those games, going 1-6 before the arrival of Frank Beamer as head coach.
The Orange Bowl, along with the Sun and Sugar bowls, is holding its 75th anniversary game this year. The Rose Bowl, which will be holding its 95th anniversary game, is the only bowl that has been around longer.
This year's Orange Bowl matchup is a rematch of the 1947 Sun Bowl which Cincinnati won 18-6 in a contest that served as the first bowl appearance for both schools.
Virginia Tech lost 24-21 to Kansas in last year's Orange Bowl, and also fell 41-21 to Nebraska in the 1996 edition of this game.
The Hokies made it here by claiming their second straight ACC title with a 30-12 win over Boston College in the conference championship game to finish 9-4 on the season. Virginia Tech closed with three straight victories to stay in contention for a fifth consecutive season of 10 or more victories. A win would also give them their 8th double-digit win season in the last 10 years.
In its five years in the league, Virginia Tech has won three ACC titles and lost in the championship game once.
A return to the Orange Bowl is quite an accomplishment for a team that lost thirteen players off last year's squad to the NFL (8 drafted, 5 free agents). Among them were six of the top defenders, and four receivers who accounted for 146 catches. The Hokies also kicked their top running back from 2007 off the team.
Still, the Hokies allowed only 277 yards per game and posted the 13th-best scoring defense mark with 17.46 points allowed per game.
Place-kicker Dustin Keys is the nation’s ninth-ranked field goal kicker with 1.67 three-pointers per game.
Darren Evans gained 1,112 yards rushing to rank 3rd nationally among freshman running backs.
Big East Champion Cincinnati is making its 11th bowl appearance and first ever in a BCS game. The Bearcats are 6-4 in previous postseason appearances. They are currently on a 3-bowl winning streak including last season's 31-21 victory over Southern Miss in the PapaJohns.com Bowl. This is the first time since the 1950 Sun Bowl that Cincinnati will play in a bowl game that was in existence prior to 1997.
The Bearcats won the Big East with a record of 11-2 overall, 6-1 in the conference, despite numerous injuries that forced them to use five different quarterbacks. Three different quarterbacks started games. Senior Dustin Grutza broke his leg in the second game at Oklahoma; junior Tony Pike broke his arm in game 4 against Akron and was spelled by redshirt freshman Zach Collaros; redshirt freshman Chazz Anderson started and won games 5 and 6; Pike returned for game 7 but lost the feeling in his hand by halftime and was replaced by Anderson; Pike returned for Game 8 and started the remaining games with a plate and six screws in is non-throwing arm.
Cincinnati closed the season on a 6-game winning streak to claim its first Big East title, and first outright conference football title since 1964 when it was a member of the Missouri Valley Conference.
Cincinnati is the nation’s leader in net punting with 41.51 yards per punt. Bearcat punter Kevin Huber averages 44.89 yards per punt to rank seventh in the nation. The Cincinnati defense has earned 2.85
sacks per game to rank ninth in the nation and tops in the Big East. Quarterback Tony Pike ranks 29th in passing efficiency with a 141.07 rating.
Overall, Cincinnati's offense ranks 50th and Virginia Tech ranks 107th. On defense, the Bearcats rank 26th and the Hokies rank 7th. Virginia Tech outscored its opponents 22.2-17.5. Cincinnati outscored its opponents 27.3-20.2.