MIAMI, Fla. - In a game that saw a role reversal of sorts, the Kansas Jayhawks silenced the critics as they triumphed over the Virginia Tech Hokies in the 2008 FEDEX Orange Bowl by a score of 24-21.
Virginia Tech is known for their stout defense and outstanding special teams, but tonight it was the Jayhawks turn to show off in those two areas. Kansas recorded three interceptions on defense, but were even better on special teams converting on a fake punt pass as well as blocking a crucial field goal.
"Our special teams were overlooked," said Jayhawks head coach Mark Mangino. "From the outside, the media just didn't pick up on the type of success that we've had on special teams."
Coming into the game all of the talk was about Kansas' offense versus Virginia Tech's defense, but that wasn't the case when the players took the field as the Jayhawks defense, behind Orange Bowl MVP Aqib Talib, wreaked havoc on both Hokie signal callers. Talib made the biggest play of the game in the first quarter as he intercepted Tyrod Taylor's pass and returned it 60 yards for the game's opening score.
We saw a lot of outs on film," said Talib, "and Coach had us in the call where I was able to jump any route. So I just kind of slowed down in my back‑pedal and he ran the out; and the quarterback was a little late on the throw and he threw me the ball."
The one bright spot for Virginia Tech was its rushing attack as Branden Ore had only his second 100-yard rushing performance of the season accumulating 116 yards on 23 carries, but because of the fourth quarter deficit the Hokies had to go away from their ground attack and put in the air, playing right into the Jayhawks hands.
The Hokies gave some hope to the fans when they cut the Kansas lead to only three points with three minutes remaining, but the Jayhawks recovered the onside kick and a couple first downs later, they had the victory.
Jayhawks quarterback Todd Reesing needed only two words to describe Kansas' remarkable run this season and almost flawless record of 12-1. "It's ecstasy."