Frank Beamer will coach his final game in the Independence Bowl on Dec. 26 against Tulsa. Here's a preview of how Virginia Tech offensively matches up with Tulsa's defense:
Virginia Tech offense national rankings: 64th in scoring offense (29 points per game), 95th in rushing offense (151.33 yards per game), 71st in passing offense (216 yards per game), 96th in total offense (367.3 yards per game)
Tulsa defense national rankings: 120th in scoring defense (38.6 points allowed per game), 119th in rushing defense (238.5 yards allowed per game), 124th in passing defense (293 yards allowed per game), 126th in total defense (531.5 yards allowed per game)
Virginia Tech has not thrived in the Scot Loeffler era offensively, but they should be able to find success against a Tulsa defense that struggled slowing down anyone this season.
Tulsa ranks only ahead of Texas Tech and lowly Kansas in terms of total defense. That's it. This wasn't against a tough schedule either as it came against the AAC. While the AAC may be the best Group of Five conference out there, it's not as if they were playing Baylor every week.
The best defensive performance from the Golden Hurricane came on Sept. 12 in which they held New Mexico to 390 yards and 21 points. Only twice this season did Tulsa hold opponents to under 400 total yards. Tulsa allowed over 500 yards against seven times this season, including two games in which they allowed over 700 yards (one of which came against Justin Fuente's Memphis).
If you've seen how highly Virginia Tech is favored over Tulsa, this is why. The Golden Hurricane can't seem to stop anybody.
Both Travon McMillian and Isaiah Ford came out and said reaching 1,000 yards this season was a goal. McMillian sits at 961 rushing yards while Ford has 937 receiving yards. Both players should easily eclipse those marks in this game. Tulsa simply does not have anyone on defense good enough to slow down McMillian or cover Ford.
The biggest mismatch here, however, will be Bucky Hodges. Stopping a star running back or wide receiver is one thing, trying to account for one of the best tight ends in the nation is quite another. Hodges presents a measure of versatility Tulsa simply cannot account for.
For those who do not know much about Tulsa, you may look at those defensive numbers and wonder just how Tulsa got into a bowl game in the first place. The Golden Hurricane has relied entirely on its offense to carry them to the postseason. That makes McMillian the key to a Virginia Tech victory. The Hokies will need to be methodical and dominate the time of possession to keep Tulsa's offense off the field. The longer Michael Brewer and Co. have the ball, the more likely they are to score against the Golden Hurricane's woeful defense.
A Virginia Tech offense that has struggled to move the ball consistently all season really should have no trouble against Tulsa. Not only will they be able to put up plenty of points, they also should be able to dictate the pace of play and help their defense by keeping Tulsa's offense on the sidelines.
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