Virginia Tech vs. Tulsa Prediction, Independence Bowl Preview

    Virginia Tech vs. Tulsa prediction and Independence Bowl preview for the matchup between the Hokies and Golden Hurricane.

    December 15, 2015


    It’ll be a clash of contrasts in Shreveport as the Virginia Tech Hokies (6-6) and the Tulsa Golden Hurricane (6-6) meet in the final game of Frank Beamer’s illustrious coaching career. Check out the Tulsa vs. Virginia Tech prediction and game preview.


    Virginia Tech vs. Tulsa Prediction & Preview

    Broadcast

    Date: Saturday, December 26
    Game Time: 5:45 ET
    Network: ESPN

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    Why You Need To Care

    Legendary Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer’s 23-year bowl streak ends where it began back in 1993—in Shreveport at the Independence Bowl. Beamer bids farewell to the sidelines, as his Hokies and Tulsa both look to finish 2015 with a winning mark.

    It’s one for the road for the retiring Beamer, whose streak of consecutive bowl games was extended when Virginia Tech reached .500 with a season-ending escape of rival Virginia. While the finale in Charlottesville was a feel-good moment for Hokie fans, it was also another stark reminder that the program had to move in a new direction to recapture its old form as an ACC power.

    Enter Justin Fuente, who’ll succeed Beamer as soon as the bowl game ends. The one-time Memphis coach will inherit a team that’s faded considerably the last four seasons, and needs an Independence Bowl victory to avoid a first losing campaign since 1992.

    Nah, it wasn’t always pretty, but the Hurricane is still ecstatic to be back in the postseason. After a two-year hiatus, Tulsa is bowling again, becoming eligible with a win over Tulane on the regular season’s final weekend. Simply getting to 6-6 is an underrated achievement for rookie head coach Philip Montgomery, who took over a team that won only five combined games in predecessor Bill Blankenship’s final two seasons. Montgomery’s wide-open, Baylor-inspired attack was an instant upgrade from 2014, and helped to offset the generosity of a floundering defense. Tulsa is 1-5 versus teams with winning record this year, so it’ll need to flip the script to finish over .500.

    Why Tulsa Will Win

    The Hurricane can drag the Hokies into an unfamiliar track meet.

    Tulsa under Montgomery wants to move quickly, spread the field and keep opponents from locating a rhythm. That’s a looming problem for Va Tech, which remained inconsistent with the ball and failed to meet expectations defensively. Tulsa, conversely, scored at least 38 points in five of its last six games, challenging teams with the quick strikes of Dane Evans to Keyarris Garrett and Josh Atkinson and the complementary running of a deep backfield. Since the Hokies allow an uncharacteristic 4.6 yards a carry, the Hurricane might be inclined to give more touches to backs D’Angelo Brewer, Zack Langer and Ramadi Warren, who each have two 100-yard games this fall.

    Why Virginia Tech Will Win

    Yeah, the Hokie D is down in 2015, but it’s still a notch or two above anything Tulsa has seen the last two months.

    As long as coordinator Bud Foster is in charge, Tech will still be quick off the blocks and tough to throw on. The Hokies have forced an ACC-high 25 turnovers, and the burst of linemen Luther Maddy, Dadi Nicolas and Ken Ekanem will present problems for a Hurricane offensive line that’s given up 38 sacks this season. This is also an ideal spot for the Va Tech offense to amass some confidence. Tulsa is a defensive sieve, allowing 5.2 yards per carry and 26 touchdown passes. And the Hokies boast underrated weapons around QB Michael Brewer, including rookie RB Travon McMillian and all-league pass-catchers Isaiah Ford and Bucky Hodges.

    Player Who Matters

    The Hokies force a lot of fumbles, 18 to rank second nationally. That’s a major concern for a Golden Hurricane team that’s coughed it up 20 times this season.

    Foster’s kids are well coached at stripping and dislodging the ball. Tulsa will have to hold on particularly tight when LB Andrew Motuapuaka gets near the action. The sophomore doesn’t receive nearly as much attention as the linemen or DBs Chuck Clark and Brandon Facyson. But he’s an emerging playmaker from the second level, racking up 66 stops, 10 tackles for loss, three sacks and a team-high three forced fumbles in only 10 games.

    What’s Going To Happen?

    Beamer’s final game. The Hokies are not about to squander this moment against an inferior Tulsa team.

    Obviously, there’ll be no shortage of motivation for Virginia Tech, which wants to send its beloved coach out with a victory and a winning season. Tech, though, also holds a decent advantage in the matchups. It’ll harass the Hurricane offense, which will become flustered by the Hokie speed and aggressiveness at the point of attack. Tech will also be unusually potent on offense, getting scores and productive evenings out of McMillian on the ground and Ford in the passing game.

    Virginia Tech vs. Tulsa Prediction

    Prediction: Virginia Tech 41, Tulsa 27, Line: Virginia Tech -13.5, o/u: 61.5
    Must See Rating: 5: Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens – 1: Property Brothers at Home on the Ranch… 2.5

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