Orange Chips

By Adam Caparell - January 03, 2008

Orange Bowl partcipant, winners of 11 games and once the No. 2 team in the nation. With a resume like that you'd think a team wouldn't have a chip on its shoulder heading into its biggest game of the year, but this is Kansas we're talking about.

They won more games than all but one team in Division I-A this regular season, but the Jayhawks are still fighting for the respect they feel they've earned and few have been willing to give them before Thursday's fourth BCS bowl game that pits Jayhawks against ACC champion Virginia Tech. .

"I don't think at this point in the season we have to prove ourselves any more," Kansas QB Todd Reesing said. "We won 11 games this year. How many other teams in the nation can say that? Not many. So you can point to our schedule, but we play in the Big 12. That's a damn good conference."

It sure was, but the Jayhawks played one of the easiest schedules in the league (88th toughest in the country to be exact), not leaving Lawrence for the first month of the season and managed to avoid the likes of Oklahoma and Texas based on the Big 12's scheduling quirk.

So for those reasons, and several others, there's still plenty of skepticism surrounding Kansas. Sure Mark Mangino was the AP Coach of the Year for elevating the Jayhawks from a middle of the road - at best - Big 12 team at the beginning of the season to one of the nation's top teams, but how will they fair against the best defense they've face all season and a team that knows what its like to play in a BCS game?

"This is the best defense we've played against - by far," Kansas tight end Derek Fine said. "I'm very, very impressed."

But at the same time, the Hokies are equally impressed with what the Jayhawks have been able to do offensively this season. Kansas averaged 44.3 points per game with guys who weren't household names and - in some people's opinion - feature a better than advertised defense. They may not have the kind of athletes the Hokies have, but they won't be lacking for motivation.

"You just can't go by who's played in more big games and that type of thing over the years, because time and time again, those teams don't always win the games," Mangino said. "It's seems as though they have an advantage. People would tell you that, but I don't see that. I think you have to show up and play the game."

The Line: -3.5 Virginia Tech
O/U: 52.5

If I Were A Betting Man: Virginia Tech and the over. The Kansas offense has plenty of fire power, but they haven't faced a defense like this. Vince Hall is still questionable, but the Hokies can overcome his loss if he doesn't play. We'll see points scored - rain shouldn't be a factor in Miami tonight - and I wouldn't worry so much about the Virginia Tech offense. They'll put some things together. And don't forget that Kansas showed this year that it's a different team away from home. If the Hokies can rattle Todd Reesing early then this one going to be all Tech. And if they make a special teams play, forget about it.

As for the weekend's two other games...

International Bowl - Rutgers vs. Ball State
The Line: -10.5 Rutgers
O/U: 61

If I Were A Betting Man: Rutgers and the under. Too much talent and too much fire power for the Scarlet Knights in this one. Ray Rice should be the catalyst for Rutgers and pound Ball State all afternoon.

GMAC Bowl - Bowling Green vs. Tulsa
The Line: -5 Tulsa
O/U: 76

If I Were A Betting Man: Tulsa and the over. No defense in this one. Two high scoring offenses on a Sunday night when not a lot of people are going to be watching so expect to see some fireworks. Tulsa has much better personnel and give them the coaching edge - remember, the Golden Hurricane put up a number of points against Oklahoma earlier this season so I think we'll see Tulsa win big.

Bowl Season: 9-19 ATS | 17-10-1 O/U.

Posted by Adam Caparell at 03:54 PM on January 03, 2008

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