Virginia Tech’s 2009 bowl matchup as been set. The Hokies will take on the Tennessee Volunteers in the Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta on New Year’s Eve. The game will kickoff at 7:30pm on December 31st, and it will be televised by ESPN.
Tennessee went 7-5 under first-year head coach Lane Kiffin. The Volunteers and Hokies had one common opponent – Alabama. Tech lost to the Crimson Tide 34-24 in the first game of the season, while Tennessee was knocked off 12-10 at Alabama. A last second field by the Vols was blocked. Alabama’s two-point win over Tennessee was their closest margin of victory of the season.
Tennessee has a balanced offense, led by the running of tailback Montario Hardesty. Hardesty, a former Virginia Tech recruiting target, ran for 1,306 yards and 12 touchdowns on the season. Talented true freshman Bryce Brown added 460 yards for a Volunteer running game that averaged 170 yards per game on the ground.
Jonathan Crompton is Tennessee’s starting quarterback. He threw for 2,565 yards, with 26 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. As a team, the UT offense averaged 395.6 yards per game despite playing in a tough SEC conference.
Defensively, Tennessee is small and young, but they allowed only 308.8 yards per game. They are suspect against the run, allowing 142.9 yards per game and 4.2 yards per carry. However, their pass defense has been outstanding under first year defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. Kiffin is the former defensive coordinator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he developed the Tampa 2 defensive scheme that is now used by many teams in college and the NFL.
The Tennessee secondary is led by safety Eric Berry, who is rated by many scouts as the #1 safety prospect in all of college football.
Tennessee has been hot recently, winning four of their last five games after starting 2-3. They have losses to UCLA, Florida, Auburn, Alabama and Ole Miss. The Volunteers defeated Western Kentucky, Ohio, Georgia, South Carolina, Memphis, Vanderbilt and Kentucky.
Virginia Tech finished the season 9-3, with a 6-2 mark in the ACC. The Hokies, like Tennessee, finished the season strong. They won their last four games, all by double digits. This will be Virginia Tech’s second appearance in the Chick-fil-A Bowl since joining the ACC. The Hokies were defeated by Georgia 31-24 in Atlanta at the end of the 2006 season.
The Hokies and Volunteers last met in the 1994 Gator Bowl, with Peyton Manning and Tennessee beating Tech 45-23. Tech is 2-5 all-time against the Vols. However, the teams have met just once since 1937, despite their close geographic proximity. Blacksburg and Knoxville are separated by just 237 miles.
Virginia Tech has filled all preorders for the Chick-fil-A Bowl, and tickets are currently on sale to the public. Logon to HokieTickets.com, or call toll free at 1-800 VA TECH4 (1-800-828-3244) to order your tickets for this exciting game.
TSL will have more on this big matchup in the coming weeks.