Free Pick: Orange Bowl

The ACC Champion Virginia Tech Hokies will take on the Big East Champion Cincinnati Bearcats in the 2009 Orange Bowl, which will once again take place at Dolphin Stadium in Miami, Florida.

Our team of writers and handicappers break down the matchup and hand out an Orange Bowl Free Pick, which takes place Friday January 1 at 8:15PM ET.

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Oddsmakers from online sports book have made Cincinnati –2.5 point spread favorite. The over/under for this game has been set 42 total points.

Top Public Betting Trend: Virginia Tech is 4-1 against the spread in its last five games, while the total has gone under if four of the Hokies’ last five contests.

Key Stat: The Hokies have stifled teams defensively this season, limiting opponents to just 17.9 points per game, as well as 162.3 passing and 112.2 rushing yards per game.

Game Outlook: Perhaps no coach deserves more praise for the work he did in 2008 than Cincinnati’s Brian Kelly. The Bearcats dealt with massive injuries this season – especially at quarterback where four different starters were used throughout the year. Yet Kelly kept his team focused and overcame those hurdles, amassing an impressive 10-2 record in route to a Big East title. But while we’d love to take the Bearcats to cover the spread in the Orange Bowl, we think VA Tech’s outstanding defense will eventually be too much for Cincy to overcome. The Hokies are limiting opponents to just 17.9 points per game and just 162.3 passing yards per game. The Bearcats win by spreading the defense out and marching methodically down the field in an almost rhythmic type fashion. But the Hokies have an outstanding group of defensive backs, led by future NFL player Victor “Macho” Harris. We fully expect Tech to at the very least contain the Bearcat offense and eek out a victory. We also like what young quarterback Tyrod Taylor did in the ACC title game and think he’ll once again keep drives alive with his running ability. This is easily the hardest BCS Bowl game to predict this season, outside of the national championship game, of course. But we favor defense over offense and that’s one thing Frank Beamer’s squads always excel at. For the rest of our College Football Bowl Free Pick, see below.

Check out the 2008 Orange Bowl Preview

Our Free College Football Bowl Pick for the Sugar Bowl matchup between the Utah Utes and Alabama Crimson Tide game is

VIRGINIA TECH HOKIES +2.5 Projected Final Score

Virginia Tech Hokies 21

Cincinnati Bearcats 20

We also predict that this game will GO UNDER THE TOTAL (42 Sports SET BY ODDSMAKERS

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Posted: 1/1/09 10:30AM ET

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