VT No Match For Jayhawks
The surprising Kansas Jayhawks achieved the unexpected again Thursday - they won the Orange Bowl with defense.
While their high-powered offense was stymied most of the night, the Jayhawks came up with three interceptions and beat Virginia Tech 24-21 in the Orange Bowl to cap one of the finest seasons in school history.
The turnovers led to 17 Kansas points, including Aqib Talib's 60-yard return for the game's first score. He was chosen the game's most valuable player.
No. 8 Kansas (12-1), perhaps the biggest surprise in college football this season, won in its first Bowl Championship Series game to set a team record for victories. A year ago the Jayhawks went 6-6.
The No. 5 Hokies (11-3) lost their fourth consecutive BCS game. It was a bittersweet finish for the Hokies, who revived campus spirits this season following the April 16 massacre that left 32 students and professors dead.
The Jayhawks played in their first major bowl since the 1969 Orange Bowl, and they made a big splash at the start, racing to a 17-0 lead after 23 minutes.
Virginia Tech closed the deficit to 17-14 before Sean Glennon was intercepted by Justin Thornton, whose 30-yard return gave Kansas the ball at the 2 with 11 minutes left. Quarterback Todd Reesing scored on the next play.
Chris Harris also had an interception to set up a field goal, and the Jayhawks totaled five sacks while allowing only two scoring drives.
Virginia Tech drove 78 yards to score with 3 minutes left on Glennon's 20-yard pass to Justin Harper. The Jayhawks' Raimond Pendleton fielded the ensuing onside kick, and they ran out the clock.
Virginia Tech's biggest gain came on special teams. Harper scored on an 84-yard punt return after taking a lateral on a reverse from Eddie Royal, who fielded the kick.
Otherwise, Kansas' special teams played well. Joe Mortensen blocked a 25-yard field-goal attempt to preserve a 17-14 Kansas lead. The Jayhawks pulled off a fake punt to keep one drive going, and Kyle Tucker's booming punts kept the Hokies pinned deep.
The game was among the chilliest Orange Bowls ever, with a temperature of 57 degrees at kickoff and winds gusting at up to 25 mph.
The Jayhawks were the nation's highest-scoring offense this season at 44 points per game, and they took a wide-open approach in the first series. Once they lined up with both tackles flanked wide alongside the receivers, and on another play Reesing threw a left-handed shovel pass for a 9-yard gain.
Kansas split a tackle wide again when Reesing completed a pass to convert a fourth-and-1 situation, which led to a touchdown for a 17-0 lead. Reesing hit Marcus Henry with a 13-yard pass for the score, capping a 59-yard drive.
But that was the Jayhawks' lone scoring drive of more than 17 yards, leaving most of the big plays to their defense. The biggest was by Talib, who stepped in front of the intended receiver to intercept freshman Tyrod Taylor and ran along the Virginia Tech sideline untouched for a touchdown.
It was the first interception return for a touchdown in the Orange Bowl since 1968.
Virginia Tech came into the game with the more heralded defense, but the Jayhawks had four sacks in the first quarter. They threw Taylor for losses of 11 and 8 yards on his first two plays as part of the Hokies quarterback rotation.
On Virginia Tech's next possession, Josh Morgan dropped a potential touchdown pass, and Jud Dunlevy missed a 47-yard field goal attempt.
Virginia Tech mounted a 68-yard drive late in the first half, and Branden Ore scored on a 1-yard run to cut the deficit to 17-7. Ore was suspended for the first quarter for being late to a practice but still finished with 116 yards rushing.
by: Staff Writers - Email Us
More NCAA College Football Coverage from theSpread.com
- NCAA College Football public betting chart
- NCAA College Football teams
- NCAA College Football standings
- NCAA College Football schedule
- NCAA College Football scoreboard
- NCAA College Football injuries
- NCAA College Football matchups
- NCAA College Football stats
- NCAA College Football odds
- NCAA College Football news wire
- NCAA College Football top stories
- AccuScore NCAA College Football predictions
- Expert NCAA College Football picks
- NCAA College Football trends
- Comments and discussion
- Signup for theSpread.com daily newsletter
- NCAA College Football Home