Chick-fil-A Bowl preview: head-to-heads, conclusions, and predictions

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As our final installment of the Chick-fil-A Bowl preview series (we'll still have a Q&A session with Gobbler Country tomorrow), we're going to take a look at the head-to-head comparisons and make our predictions.


  Tennessee Logo Virginina Tech Logo
Best Comparable
Result Against Best Comparable
Prediction
UT rush v. VT rush defense
169.83
(#43)
138.67
(#52)
Ole Miss
140.33
(#55)
99
130
UT pass v. VT pass defense
225.58
(#47)
161.42
(#6)
Alabama
163.77
(#7)
265
180
VT rush v. UT rush defense
142.92
(#58)
206.42
(#15)
Auburn
213.83
(#13)
224
200
VT pass v. UT pass defense
165.92
(#10)
181.83
(#98)
WKU
(147.92)
(#110)
49
70
UT scoring offense v. VT scoring defense
30.58
(#32)
15.75
(#11)
Ole Miss
18.58
(#17)
17
13
VT scoring offense v. UT scoring defense
21
(#26)
31.42
(#28)
Alabama
(31.69)
(#26)
12
17

 

As I've said each time I've done this, this is not math, I'm just making informed guesses.

UT rushed for a mere 99 yards against Ole Miss, which was a really funky game for us, so I bumped up the predicted rushing yards to 130, which sounds about right to me. We passed for 265 against 'Bama, which sounds high, so I backed that down to 180. We held Auburn to 224 yards rushing, but I think Tech has a more traditional running attack and that we do a better job of defending those, so I went with the Hokies getting 200 on the ground against the Vols, which might be a bit high. I don't know that we can hold Tech to as few passing yards as we did WKU -- the best comparable in the passing game (surprise!) -- but we should have some success there.

And here's where the predictions get really weird. Despite Tech appearing to have the advantages in the yardage battles, at least when it comes to comparables, the points actually come out in Tennessee's favor. Despite the horrendous game against Dexter McCluster, we did put up 17 points on a pretty good defense. Add to that the fact that we held Alabama to 12 points, and, just going on scoring comparables, we should win 17-12 or so. But with the yardages metrics working out the way they did, I can't get comfortable with that, so I'm going with a Hokie win, 17-13. Maybe 17-16. Whatever the case, it should be a good game, and it could very well come down to a break here or there, and when breaks come into play, don't bet against Frank Beamer, because he excels at making his own.

Conclusions

  • Virginia Tech has an excellent rushing offense and a passing offense that, while not particularly productive, is efficient and not prone to making mistakes, which is a perfect complement to a strong running game. As good as Tennessee's ground game is, Tech's appears to be even better.
  • If the Vols have an advantage, it appears to be in the passing game, but the Hokies' pass defense is, again, even better than the Vols', at least when it comes to national rankings.
  • Despite Virginia Tech's apparent advantage in most phases of the game, there is reason to believe the score could be a different story. If Tennessee comes ready to play like they did against Alabama, they could find themselves on the positive side of a close win. Yet the numbers seem to suggest that the Hokies will get it done instead.

Prediction

  • Virginia Tech 17, Tennessee 13.
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