The Camping World Independence Bowl
Match-up: Tulsa Golden Hurricane (6-6) vs. Virginia Tech Hokies (6-6)
Start time: 4:45 PM CT, Saturday, December 26
Where: Shreveport, LA, Independence Stadium
Betting Line: Va. Tech -14, Over/Under Points Total: 62
When Tulsa has the ball...
I think that the average college football analyst and the betting line has this one all but in the bag for the Hokies. However, the advanced stats tell a more even-matched story. Tulsa absolutely, positively has to stay ahead of the chains. The Virginia Tech Hokies have always been one of the ACC's best defenses and this year is no different.
The big one that stands out for Tulsa is their big play ability. They've had one of the best nation's best offenses this year and rely on the big play to stay competitive. And as you can see above their isoPPP (a measure of explosiveness) is where their only advantage really lies. If Keyarris Garrett and Joshua Atkinson can blow the top off the defense, Virginia Tech doesn't have the horses to keep up. Tulsa wants this to be an offensive race to the finish. They surely don't want to have to rely on their defense to pull this one out.
When Virginia Tech has the ball...
This is where Tulsa is going to have to make an impact in a big way. Virginia Tech isn't particularly explosive ranking 97th in the nation in isoPPP when passing the ball, and even worse on standard downs. However they are efficient and methodical. With 100 being an average efficiency rating, the Hokies are just above that. They rank top-30 in turnover margin (+6). If the Hokies can keep the game a low scoring affair by forcing the Tulsa Golden Hurricane to run the ball, their superior defense will bring the hammer. Tulsa will be the nails.
I have a hard time betting against a team that has a defined purpose. The Camping World Independence Bowl has lost a little luster with it's age. Long gone are the days that Notre Dame and Alabama came to Shreveport to put an exclamation point on their seasons. The Hokies, however, will be treating this bowl like it was treated in days past with Beamer riding off into the sunset. Tulsa's only real hope is to turn Beamer's going away party into a circus.
Virginia Tech - 24, Tulsa - 14