TULSA GOLDEN HURRICANE (6-6) vs. VIRGINIA TECH HOKIES (6-6)
Kickoff: 5:45 p.m. ET/2:45 p.m. PT
Las Vegas: Virginia Tech -14
The end of an illustrious coaching career coincides with an important first for another just in its infancy. Frank Beamer, the man who made Virginia Tech football a national power, says goodbye at the Independence Bowl, his final postseason appearance of 23.
For Tulsa’s Philip Montgomery, Saturday marks his first foray into postseason football. His bowl-game debut could send Beamer out on a doubly sour. A loss doesn’t just mean the legendary coach taking an L on his way out; it would also seal Virginia Tech’s first sub-.500 finish since 1992.
To do that, Tulsa’s high-powered offense must get rolling against an uncharacteristically middling Bud Foster defense. Virginia Tech ranked No. 46 nationally in points allowed this season, which isn’t awful by any stretch. Compared to the best Hokie defenses of the Beamer-Foster regime, however, it’s disappointing.
Virginia Tech’s secondary will have its hands full against a talented Tulsa wide-receiving corps, whihc features the nation’s No. 2 pass-catcherk Keyarris Garrett. Fellow Golden Hurricane Josh Atkinson ranks in the nation’s top 40, and Tulsa returns one of the most productive pass-catchers of 2014, Keevan Lucas.
Tulsa will attack Virginia Tech through the air early and often, and the Hokies could be forced out of their comfort zone and into a shootout.
While I typically wouldn’t like such an outlook for Virginia Tech, given offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler’s style, Tulsa lacks the defensive chops to slow a more talented Hokie run game.
Frank Beamer goes out a winner, but Montgomery’s team makes a statement about the coach’s soon-to-be stardom.