NO. 13 MICHIGAN (10-2) vs. NO. 17 VIRGINIA TECH (11-2)
WHERE: Superdome, New Orleans.
THE BUZZ: Most of the attention centered around Michigan has been geared toward how Tech plans to try to stop quarterback Denard Robinson, who has accounted for 3,219 yards and 34 touchdowns passing and rushing. Yet, Michigan's defense will be arguably the best Tech has seen all season. Michigan, which comes out of coordinator Greg Mattison's 4-3 scheme, is 17th in the nation in total defense (317.6 yards per game). Defensive tackle Will Heininger (sprained right foot) is likely to miss the game. Quarterback Logan Thomas can claim Tech's single-season total offense record with 188 yards passing and rushing, but he'll need help from running back David Wilson (1,627 rushing yards, just 29 yards shy of Tech's single-season record) to loosen up a much-improved defense (35.2 points per game given up last season, and 17.2 this season). The big unknown for Tech is its kicking game, which will feature third-teamer Justin Myer. He'll handle the field goal duties with Cody Journell and Tyler Weiss both suspended. Myer has missed his only two field-goal attempts this season.
— Norm Wood
NORM WOOD: Though Virginia Tech could use a win to justify just being included in the Bowl Championship Series, Michigan coach Brady Hoke has incentive to finish his first season in Ann Arbor on a high note. Tech has come up short in its past two trips to the Superdome (46-29 loss to Florida State in the 1999 Sugar Bowl national championship game, and a 16-13 loss to Auburn in the Sugar Bowl to end the 2004 season). Michigan will push Tech's Big Easy losing streak to three games. Michigan 27-21.
DAVID TEEL: As dynamic as Logan Thomas and Denard Robinson are, and as much as ESPN would prefer, don't expect an Alamo Bowl-type shootout. The Hokies and Wolverines are too stingy on defense. Virginia Tech wants to quiet its legion of detractors, and instant celebrity Justin Myer will do it with a late field goal. Hokies, 23-21.
VIRGINIA TECH BOWL HISTORY
Jan. 3, 2011 Orange Bowl—Stanford 40, Virginia Tech 12
Dec. 31, 2009 Chick-fil-A Bowl—Virginia Tech 37, Tennessee 14
Jan. 1, 2009 Orange Bowl—Virginia Tech 20, Cincinnati 7
Jan. 3, 2008 Orange Bowl—Kansas 24, Virginia Tech 21
Dec. 30, 2006 Chick-fil-A Bowl—Georgia 31, Virginia Tech 24
Jan. 2, 2006 Gator Bowl—Virginia Tech 35, Louisville 24
Jan. 3, 2005 Sugar Bowl—Auburn 16, Virginia Tech 13
Dec. 26, 2003 Insight Bowl—California 52, Virginia Tech 49