Posts Tagged ‘Virginia Tech’

Today’s Menu: College Football Conference Championship Games!

The college football season is winding down, and in just a few weeks, the bowl games will be in full swing.  Today the ACC, Big 12 and SEC conferences hold their championship games.  There are some great match ups!  Here is our take on today’s slate of title games. 

ACC Championship

The 15th ranked Virginia Tech Hokies face off against the No. 21 Florida State Seminoles at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina tonight at 7:45 pm (ET).   The winner of tonight’s game will play in the Orange Bowl in Miami on January 3rd, while the loser will play in the December 31st Chik=fil-A Bowl in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome.

Since the Hokies joined the ACC in 2004, they have earned three ACC Championships and four Coastal Division Championships.  Against ACC rivals, their record is 46-10.  While their dominance within the ACC is apparent, tonight’s game with the Seminoles is a real test for Virginia Tech.  The Hokies have had a tough time with FSU over the years, losing the last 13 of 14 contests.

The Seminoles have revamped their program after a disappointing last few seasons.  With the retirement of legendary coach Bobby Bowden last year, Jimbo Fisher is trying to re-establish FSU as one of the top program’s in the country. A win against the Hokies tonight would clearly put FSU back among college football’s elite.

After a poor start this season, including an embarrassing loss to James Madison, the Hokies have shown resiliency and character.  They have won 10 straight games and have gone undefeated in ACC games, the first team to have done so in 10 years.  Tonight they will continue their hot winning streak.  Look for a close game, coming down to some exciting 4th quarter drama!  We think Hokie QB Tyrod Taylor, the ACC Player of the Year, will lead the Tech to its 4th ACC Championship title and road trip to Miami in January.

Big 12 Championship

Cowboys Stadium will host the 9th ranked Oklahoma Sooners vs. and No. 13 Nebraska Cornhuskers.  Oklahoma and Nebraska have had one of the longest rivalries in college football history.  The two teams have met 86 times and the tradition between them is legendary.  Their 1971 game is known as the “Game of the Century”.

While tonight’s game does not hold any national championship implications unlike many past contests, it does have special meaning.   With the Cornhuskers set to join the Big 10 next year, this will be the last Big 12 Championship since NCAA rules require at least 12 teams to hold a title game.  The old-fashioned rivalry is a perfect story book ending to the Big 12 title game.

Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini’s hot temper and sideline antics will certainly entertain fans.  While he is widely criticized for his tirades, we admire his intensity.  Sure, he should try not to publicly dress down his star QB.   Pelini should also attempt to keep his profanity-laced tirades aimed at referees to a minimum, but it is actually refreshing to see a coach who cares that much!  Should Nebraska pull of the victory, it will be amusing to watch the Big 12 Commissioner hand him the trophy as he and Nebraska heads off into Big Ten country.

Both teams enter today’s game with injuries to some key players.  The 10-2 Cornhuskers could be without starting QB Taylor Martinez, while the Sooners may be missing their leading rusher, DeMarco Murray.  If these players miss today’s conference championship, it could have a huge impact on the outcome of the game.

The Cornhuskers have the nation’s 5th ranked defense, which will be put to the test by Oklahoma’s powerful offensive duo of QB Landry Jones and receiver Ryan Broyles.  Together, they have made the Sooners the 4th best passing team in the country.

Look for a close game, with Oklahoma ending the Big 12 Championship series with a victory.  Kickoff is 8 pm ET.

 SEC Championship

Number one Auburn takes on 19th ranked South Carolina in the SEC title game at the Georgia Dome.  Auburn’s QB Cam Newton was cleared to play earlier this week after the NCAA ruled that he had no knowledge of his father’s pay-to-play scheme.   Newton will try to keep the Tiger’s perfect season and lead the team to both an SEC Championship title and BCS National Championship game.  Of all the conference title games today, this is the one that could be an upset!

Auburn and South Carolina played earlier this season, with the Tigers winning 35-27. South Carolina has improved since that last meeting in September, but in order to defeat Newton and Auburn, they will have to play a near-perfect game.   In the last game, SC’s defense had 17 missed tackles and 33 missed assignments.  Offensively, SC had 4 turnovers in their last 4 possessions! They cannot afford that kind of sloppy play if they have any hope of sneaking away with an upset win. 

Newton is not the #1 Heisman candidate without good reason.  His performance has simply been extraordinary.  Alone, Cam Newton averages more rushing yards than 5 SEC teams.  To slow down his running game, SC will need to load the line of scrimmage and force him to pass. 

If SC can slow down Newton’s rushing game, there is still plenty to worry about since his passing game is also phenomenal!  In the last 4 games, he has completed 72% of his passes.  He is second in the nation in passing efficiency.  In order to contain Newton, SC will have to stack the box, provide pressure and sack Newton to prevent him from throwing. South Carolina leads the SEC in sacks and will need a big day in this category if they are to be successful.

South Carolina Head Coach Steve Spurrier won 6 SEC titles while at Florida and knows how to win the big games.  Today’s SEC Championship is indeed a big game.  If SC can control the time of possession, contain Cam Newton and keep from committing turnovers, they can pull off the upset!  Get ready for an exciting matchup.  Game time is 4:00 ET.

Boise State Falls to Nevada in OT… Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz Oh What a Relief it is!

College football’s most divisive team, Boise State, lost 34-31 in overtime to Nevada last night.  The Broncos were ranked 4th and were undefeated this season.  In fact, they had not lost a game since 2008, when they fell to TCU in the Poinsettia Bowl.  Poinsettia Bowl?  Honestly, I did not even know that bowl existed.  This loss makes it quite likely Boise will end up in a similarly named bowl of obscurity.

If you detect a bit of mockery in my tone, you are right.  Politically correct or not, I am willing to admit that I am celebrating Boise State’s defeat.  I have felt all along that they were undeserving of their 4th place ranking.  Given the current structure of the BCS, I have little faith that the actual top teams will be playing for a national title.  The idea of Boise State playing in a BCS bowl game seemed so unjust and bizarre to me.  Thankfully last night’s loss will ensure that the Broncos will not be national championship contenders.  Whew!  What a relief. 

A few days ago Ohio State University President Gordon Gee offered his opinion about Boise State and 3rd ranked Texas Christian University being possible BCS contenders.  Since that statement, he has been widely criticized.  While Gee’s words were perhaps not as eloquent as one would expect from a university president, the basic concept he was trying to convey resonated among many fans.  During an AP interview, Gee said

I do know, having been both a Southeastern Conference president and a Big Ten president, that it’s like murderer’s row every week for these schools. We do not play the Little Sisters of the Poor. We play very fine schools on any given day. So I think until a university runs through that gauntlet that there’s some reason to believe that they not be the best teams to (be) in the big ballgame.

It was an insensitive way to basically argue that schools like Boise State and TCU do not play with the “big boys”.  However, the OSU President should have looked at strength of schedule stats before making such a controversial, public statement.  It turns out that OSU’s strength of schedule (59) is only slightly better than TCU’s (68) and Boise’s (73).  These strength of schedule (SOS) stats have now been used against Gee by basically every sports commentator and writer around.

But to dismiss Gee’s arguments by simply quoting SOS data misses the bigger picture.  There is validity in what he was trying to say.  Frankly, the WAC and Mountain West conferences, which Boise and TCU play in, are NOT as competitive as the SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, PAC-10 or the ACC.  While teams like these do play weaker opponents, the majority of their games are against teams in more powerful conferences.  For example, #2 ranked Auburn has faced Arkansas (#12 at the time), LSU (#6 at the time), South Carolina (#12 at the time) and Alabama (#11 at the time).  Conversely, Boise State’s ranked opponents have been Virginia Tech (#10 at the time) and # 19 Nevada, whom they lost to last night.

Consider the argument from yet another perspective.  If you are a high school football player, being recruited to play at the collegiate level, would you choose a school from the Mountain West over ANY school in the PAC-10, Big Ten, ACC, Big 12 or SEC?  Of course there are exceptions, but the majority of elite high school prospects choose colleges from the powerhouse conferences.  This means that week after week teams like Auburn, Alabama and OSU face athletes who are simply stronger, faster, bigger and yes, better.  So until Boise State and TCU can compete against better caliber opponents on a consistent basis, football fans like me will continue to doubt them.

All the controversy about strength of schedules, BCS computer rankings and so forth could be eliminated if a college football playoff system was implemented.  It would put an end to the endless arguing about who deserves to play in the major BCS bowls.  Gordon Gee is not a proponent of a playoff system and prefers the status quo.  If he truly believes OSU is far superior to teams like Boise and TCU, he should welcome NCAA playoffs. 

In the meantime, people like me have to sit back and hope that the football media darlings, like Boise State, fall from grace and get eliminated from the national championship discussion.  If you listen closely, you can hear the sigh of relief from football fans throughout the land.

Five Fabulous Reasons to be Thankful this Football Season…

As we pause to reflect upon the people and things in life that we are grateful for, we of course think of our families, special friends – both near and far – and other wonderful blessings.  As football fans, we are also thankful for the 2010 season and the excitement it has brought us thus far.  Here is our top five list of what we are most thankful for this football season…

#5 –  The Hokie Bird

Thanksgiving has a variety of traditions, like turkey and football, and what better turkey to represent the day than the Virginia Tech mascot?  The maroon and orange turkey may not be as ferocious as a lion or tiger, but he does have spectacular spirit as he struts his stuff around Lane Stadium.  In the 4th quarter as he dances the “Hokie Pokie”, you must admit there’s really no other mascot quite like him!

#4 – Mid-Season Coach Firings

After watching two of the most incompetent NFL coaches bumble along this season, we are grateful that the Cowboys and the Vikings had the courage to fire their head coaches.  Minnesota’s Brad Childress lost control of the team early in the season.  But his handling of Randy Moss truly epitomized his incompetence.  Now at 3-7, it will be interesting to see if interim head coach Leslie Frazier can salvage the season.  The Cowboys also made the bold move of firing head coach Wade Phillips mid way through the season.  Newly appointed Head Coach Jason Garrett seems to have shaken things up, as the Cowboys are playing much more motivated, disciplined football compared to when Phillips was coach.  It remains to be seen if these coaching changes will result in any real improvement in team play.  But, at the very least, we are thankful that we no longer have to endure the awkward and embarrassing behaviors of Childress and Phillips.

#3 –  Fantasy Football

While my team may not exactly be winning (ok, ok..we are in next to last place), entering a fantasy league for the first time this season has been one of the most fun and exciting things I have done in a long time.  Each week, as I set my starting line up in hopes of achieving the perfect team to annihilate my opponent, I love the strategy involved.  With players on my roster from throughout the league, I am interested in more games than ever before.  It is a great, new way to enjoy the gridiron and I am so thankful to be in such a great league (Go, HokieHokieHokie!)

#2 – Denard Robinson

He may not be as popular as Heisman hopeful Cam Newton of Auburn, but there’s something about Denard Robinson that makes us smile!  The University of Michigan QB, known as “’Shoelace”, is just plain fun to watch.  As he leads the Wolverines with his untied shoelaces and signature dreadlocks, he poses a dual threat to opposing defenses.  He alone has accounted for nearly 70% of Michigan’s total offense.  He is the first quarterback in NCAA history to pass for more than 1500 yards AND rush for 1500 yards in a single season.  At 7-4, Michigan’s season has been disappointing, which is one of the reasons Robinson may not be as highly touted as other Heisman candidates.  But nothing beats his pure athleticism and raw talent.  He is truly one of the most dynamic players in college football today and one of our very favorite things about this football season!

#1 – Michael Vick

Is there a better story in football this year?  After 21 months in federal prison because of his involvement in dog fighting, most people wrote Michael Vick off.  He lost his QB position with the Atlanta Falcons, declared bankruptcy and became one of the most despised figures in America.  Upon release from prison, most people expected him to return to his old lifestyle and friends and fade into obscurity.  But with the help of former Colts coach Tony Dungy, who mentored him while in prison, Vick changed his attitude, his work ethic, and in the end, his life.  His story is one of redemption and should give each of us hope.

As the starting QB for the Philadelphia Eagles, Vick’s performance this season has been phenomenal.  He is a serious contender for this year’s MVP.  Under the watchful, fatherly eye of Eagles Head Coach Andy Reid, Vick appears to be thriving both on and off the field.  With his unparalleled physical abilities, he is arguably the best overall athlete in the NFL.  Like our #2 favorite, Denard Robinson, we just love watching Vick play!  That immeasurable, distinctive ability to make plays with both his arm and his legs are simply magical and make him our VERY FAVORITE thing about the 2010 season so far!

Happy Thanksgiving fellow football fans!  Enjoy the rest of the season!

Great College Gridiron Traditions…

There’s lots of great college gridiron today!  Nothing beats the college stadium atmosphere and the fierce loyalty that students, alumni and fans hold for their teams.  That passion is unparalleled in all of sports.  The tailgates, cheers and mascots help make up the “threads” of the multi-colored college football tapestry.  So as we get ready to drown ourselves in our Saturday addiction, we thought it would be fun to look at some of the best college football traditions in a few of today’s match ups.

Auburn vs. Georgia

Auburn has one of the coolest traditions in all of college football.  Though their mascot is the Tiger, a live eagle soars above the 90,000 cheering fans as the stadium blares out its official fight song “War Eagle”.  Click below to see this great Auburn tradition!

The Georgia Bulldogs do not have an eagle circling their stadium, but they do have a real, live bulldog named Uga (pronounced UH-ga).  Donning a spiked collar and red jersey, Uga paces the sideline expressing the deep loyalty that only a dog can possess.  Just last month, the latest Uga (#8) was introduced to the crowd after the previous canine passed away last year.  The university reveres their bulldogs so much that deceased Ugas are actually interred in an on campus mausoleum, near the stadium. 

Penn State vs. Ohio State

Penn State’s program is rich with tradition.  Before each home game, as the band marches down the field, the drum major gallantly leads the procession and does a flip in mid-air. Another tradition occurs at each home game as students yell out the “We Want the Lion, We Want the Lion” chant.  The mascot runs to the loudest student section and is then passed up above the heads of frenzied students – all the way from the bottom row of seats to the top!  “Paternoville” is a more recent tradition. Students set up tents outside the stadium and live there for days before the games to try and get the best seats in the student section!  Joe Paterno and some of his players often stop by to visit these dedicated fans, especially for big games, where students often camp out the entire week in anticipation.  Below is a video clip of one of the Blue Band’s drum majors performing his pre-game traditional flip…

The Ohio State Buckeyes marching band forms the word “Ohio” in script letters at their home games.  The letter “i” is then “dotted” by a famous alum, a dignitary, or most often, a sousaphone player.   Another Buckeye tradition occurs on the Thursday night prior to their matchup with arch-rival Michigan.  Thousands of students gather on campus at Mirror Lake and jump in the frigid waters to show their enthusiasm and zeal about the upcoming game.

Clemson vs. Florida State

Since the 1960s, Clemson players have rubbed their hands over a rock, named Howard’s Rock, before each game.  The rock is named after legendary coach Frank Howard.   Part of the tradition is also running down “The Hill”.  The players gather around the rock and then run down “The Hill” into the stadium, where more than 80,000 screaming fans await them!

Florida State’s famous flaming spear is another crowd-pleaser!  At home games a student, dressed as the famous Seminole Chief Osceola, charges down field on a horse named Renegade and thrusts a flaming spear in the middle of the field.  Click below to see this spectacular Seminole tradition.

UNC vs. Virginia Tech

UNC is known more for its basketball, rather than football, prowess.  The program has been making strides, however, and it won’t be long until the Tar Heels develop some sort of pre-game ritual that eventually becomes tradition.  But, UNC’s contribution to football is significant, as they are credited with creating the forward pass!  In an 1895 game against the UGA Bulldogs, the Tar Heels punt was about to be blocked, when the punter suddenly lobbed the ball to his teammate who went on to score and win the game!  It would be a much different game without passing, so in our opinion, that’s a pretty good tradition to have started!

We have saved the BEST for last!  Yes, the best ENTRANCE in college football belongs to Virginia Tech!  The tradition begins as players assemble in a tunnel and jump up to touch the Hokie Stone as they enter Lane Stadium.  As Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” blasts throughout the stadium, over 70,000 screaming Hokies jump up and down, creating a wild, frenzied venue.  Unless you have experienced the thrill and goose bumps firsthand, words alone do not do this amazing tradition justice.  To see what it’s all about, click below.

It’s Thirsty Thursday! Tailgaters Prepare for the Battle of the Techs

Tonight’s ESPN prime time college football game features the battle of the techies, as Virginia Tech hosts ACC defending champs Georgia Tech (5-3) at Lane Stadium.  VT started the season with high expectations.  The phrase “national championship” was even bantered about by sports analysts during the summer, as it was widely believed the Hokies had one of the most talented offensive rosters in their history. 

After a loss to Boise State and a stunning defeat by James Madison, the Hokies have won their last 6 games.  Now Virginia Tech sits at 22 in the BCS rankings and is slowly trying to climb its way to a major bowl appearance. 

So, what does tonight’s match up look like?  The Hokies are undefeated in conference play and are the team to beat in the ACC.  They have lost to Georgia Tech 2 consecutive years, but this Hokies squad should be able to break that streak. 

The Hokies offense seems to be clicking, with a powerful, healthy backfield and QB Tyrod Taylor taking charge of the offense.  The dual-threat Taylor has thrown for over 1600 yards this season and rushed for over 500.  With just 95 more total yards, he will become VT’s all time leader for total offense.

Defensively, the Hokies are a young unit. But Georgia Tech’s offense is pretty one dimensional, with 21 of their 28 TDs this season coming off run plays.  VT Defensive Coordinator, Bud Foster, is a strategy guru and will likely load the box, forcing struggling Georgia Tech QB Josh Nesbitt to throw.

It has been a rainy day in Blacksburg and the temperature at kickoff (7:30 pm) is expected to be around 45 degrees.  Despite the conditions, Hokie fans are out in force today, ready to support their team.  Campus parking lots have been swarming with tailgaters all day.  Classes?  It seems many students have decided to forgo class and tailgate vigorously as they prepare for this rivalry game!

Tonight’s bone-chilling weather calls for a hot tailgate beverage!  One of our fall favorites is our version of spiked hot apple cider.  Pair it with some great grilled burgers and hot dogs for a terrific tailgating treat.  So mix up a nice, big batch of our hot spiked cider and sit back and enjoy the battle of the two Techs!

Hot “Spike the Ball” Cider…

  • 2 quarts water
  • 8 orange spiced tea bags
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 quart apple cider
  • 2 cups Captain Morgan’s spiced rum
  • cinnamon sticks

In a large saucepan, bring water to a boil. Remove from heat, adding the orange spice tea bags. Cover pan and steep approx. 5 minutes. Remove tea bags.  Next, stir in brown sugar, apple cider, rum, and 4 cinnamon sticks. Heat just to warm, do not boil.   Pour hot spiked cider into large thermal carafes to keep warm until game time.  Ladle cider into insulated mugs, garnishing each with a cinnamon “swizzle” stick and enjoy!

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