Our predictions Columnist Dave Fairbank
Based on talent and recent success, Virginia Tech is better. Whether that's enough to squeeze out a win versus the Volunteers is debatable. Want-to might be the critical element in your various fast-food, muffler, steak house, what's-in-your- wallet bowls. It's unclear the level of want-to the Hokies possess following a regular season that fell short of expectations. Tennessee certainly has more to play for. Maybe if we're lucky, Vols coach Lane Kiffin will be mic'd on the sideline and mention how he spent some of Al Davis' settlement money and sent a defibrillator and some nitroglycerine pills to Urban Meyer.
Tech 25, Tennessee 15.
Sports Editor Nick Mathews
Party on, Virginia Tech fans. This will be a stress-free New Year's Eve. Maybe not a blowout, but the Hokies fans in attendance will be able to leave early in the fourth quarter and make a joyous walk to the Peach Drop. Tennessee is 7-5, with an average offense, a solid defense and no marquee wins. The combined record of its seven victims is a yawn-inducing 35-53. The victim with the most wins, Ohio, is at 9-5 and lost the prestigious Pizza Bowl. Virginia Tech (9-3) has three wins over opponents with nine wins (Nebraska, Miami and ECU).
Hokies cruise 31-10.
Senior columnist David Teel
Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin is a headline-making machine. Volunteers strong safety Eric Berry is a consensus All-American. But the hunch here is that Virginia Tech is a better team. The Hokies have beaten two opponents, Miami and Nebraska, ranked among the current top 20. The Vols have no such victories. Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor is a dual threat. His Tennessee counterpart, Jonathan Crompton, is not. That said, three of the Vols' five defeats were by a combined 10 points, and defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin can X and O with anyone, Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster included. Hokies win 20-16.
Hokies beat writer Norm Wood
While getting to 10 wins again would be nice for Tech, there's additional juice in trying to win back-to-back bowl games for the first time in school history. Tech coach Frank Beamer became the master of hyperbole Wednesday when he referred to Tennessee as possibly the best team in the Southeastern Conference right now. Winning four of its last five games may make Tennessee one of the SEC's hottest teams, but not the best (try Alabama). Tech wins 24-13, snapping a four-game losing streak against SEC teams and getting its first victory in Atlanta in three trips this season.