As Christmas wraps up, Virginia Tech and Oklahoma State are making their final preparations for the 2017 Camping World Bowl. This game is one of the most anticipated games of this bowl season with a great matchup between the high-powered Cowboy offense and dominant Lunch Pail defense.
To get you ready for the Camping World Bowl, here is our By The Numbers preview.
46.9%: Completion Percentage Allowed By Virginia Tech
Bowl games are about putting together great matchups, and there won't be a better matchup in a non-New Year's Six Bowl than Virginia Tech's pass defense against Mason Rudolph. Rudolph has been impossible to slow down this season but if there's one defense that might be able to contain Rudolph, it's the Hokies.
Virginia Tech has consistently held opposing quarterbacks to below their average completion rate, something that could be a good sign against the prolific Rudolph whose completes 65% of his passes.
The Hokies may be a little banged up at safety, but their cornerback trio is all healthy including All-ACC First Team CB Greg Stroman. Andrew Motuapuaka also deserves some credit as he was consistently praised by Pro Football Focus for his coverage skills.
Those cornerbacks will be tested against a talented Oklahoma State receiving corps that is more than just Biletnikoff Award winner James Washington. Marcell Ateman doesn't really nearly as much praise as Washington, but Ateman is really good in his own right. This past season Ateman averaged 19.4 yards per reception, and had 1,054 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns.
Ateman will give VT just as big of a challenge as Washington, but the Hokies have the cornerbacks to make this a tough fight with Stroman and Brandon Facyson. The pair of senior cornerbacks have plenty of experience and while Stroman has received most of the attention, Facyson is underrated in part because he rarely gets targeted due to his great coverage.
The matchup between Washington and Ateman, and Stroman and Facyson will be one of the best in this game along with the overall matchup between Mason Rudolph and VT's pass defense.
20.6: Yards Per Reception for James Washington
James Washington is a big play machine as the Biletnikoff Award winner has been a nightmare for opposing secondaries. Washington actually had two less receptions than Cam Phillips during the regular season, but he was a big play machine with 12 receiving touchdowns and plenty of spectacular plays.
Washington is one of the most exciting players in college and will receive plenty of attention from scouts in this game against a very talented VT secondary that will test him unlike any team has all season. You can expect that even with the talent VT has at cornerback with Greg Stroman and Brandon Facyson, Bud Foster will try to give them some safety help knowing Washington's big play ability.
Washington is pushing to be the top WR prospect in the 2018 NFL Draft and this is about as good of an opportunity as any top WR will have during bowl season other than Alabama's Calvin Ridley. Washington will be tested by the Hokies' secondary, but he has the ability to have a big play at any second like former Clemson WR Sammy Watkins.
James Washington has the talent to break off a big play at any second, and can't be forgotten even for a blink of an eye.
5.0: Min. # of Yards Per Carry For Deshawn McClease with 10+ Carries
Deshawn McClease was better when he received more carries as the redshirt sophomore averaged at least 5 yards per carry when he had double-digit carries. McClease finished the season strong with 141 yards on 27 carries against Pittsburgh and Virginia.
With Virginia Tech's run blocking improving, McClease took advantage down the stretch and has emerged as the Hokies' best running back. McClease gives the Hokies speed and explosiveness out of the backfield that they can't find with anyone else. While VT has quality power guys like Jalen Holston and Steven Peoples, McClease has given the Hokies some speed and patience while being a capable runner between the tackles.
At this point, it's not clear how the Hokies will divide up carries, but you can expect that McClease will have a large role at worse as a change-of-pace back. Don't be surprised to see the Hokies go with McClease early and often after his strong performances in the final two games of the season against Pittsburgh
5.5: Yards per Carry for Oklahoma State's Justice Hill
Oklahoma State' offense is more than just their high-powered passing attack, but the Cowboys also can run the ball led by RB Justice Hill. Hill ran for 1,347 yards and 14 touchdowns this season including 7 games with at least 100 rushing yards.
Justice Hill had his best games at the most important times with 228 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns against Oklahoma, and 134 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns at Iowa State. Hill gives the Cowboys a legitimate running threat that forces linebackers to stay in the box instead of being able to stretch outside and cover four and five receiver sets.
Hill is an x-factor that the Hokies will have to pay attention to even with Oklahoma State's talented passing game trio of Mason Rudolph, James Washington, and Marcell Ateman. However, Hill will be tested by a VT rush defense that has shut down numerous talented running backs.
4: Number of Hokies With 10+ Tackles For Loss
Virginia Tech has a loaded defense with multiple guys who can shut down the run at a high level including four players who have at least 10 tackles for loss this season. Their dominance stopping the run has been largely due to their strength up the middle led by Tim Settle and Ricky Walker who have a combined 23 tackles for loss (Settle: 12.5, Walker: 10.5).
This duo has given opponent nightmares and is one of the best defensive tackle pairs in America. Settle and Walker are run stuffing machines that can clog up holes and break into the backfield to prevent opposing RBs from getting back to the line of scrimmage. Looking ahead to next year, Settle and Walker have the potential to be the best pair of DTs in VT history if both of them return in 2018.
VT has a linebacking corps that feasts on shutting down the run led by Tremaine Edmunds with 14 tackles for loss. Edmunds has had another incredible season that has led him to earning All-ACC First Team honors and some All-American recognition. Edmunds was a finalist for the Butkus Award and if he returns, he likely would be the favorite for the Butkus and a Preseason All-American next year.
Tremaine Edmunds isn't the only VT linebacker that has been great at stopping the run with Andrew Moutapuaka having 10.5 tackles for loss and Mook Reynolds having 9 tackles for loss. Motuapuaka has steadily developed into an underrated mike linebacker who has become more consistent as a run defender and more decisive in filling the right gaps.
With Reynolds likely to be in coverage a lot at free safety, VT will need Edmunds, Motuapuaka, and the defensive line to be effective in containing Justice Hill. However, the Hokies have the playmakers to contain a talented back like Hill without having to bring extra guys into the box.
71: Number of Receptions for Cam Phillips
The Hokies will be without Cam Phillips for the 2017 Camping World Bowl due to a sports hernia injury that he's been dealing with throughout the season. Virginia Tech will be looking for their younger receivers to step up with their star offensive playmaker out for what would have been his final collegiate game.
With Phillips out, Eric Kumah and Sean Savoy will become the focal points of the passing game. Savoy was out for the Hokies' game at Virginia, but the return of the freshman should only benefit the VT offense. Savoy was second on the team in receptions (39) and receiving yards (454), and will receive a lot more attention not only in the Hokies' playcalling, but also from the OSU defense.
Eric Kumah struggled early in the season, but finished strong highlighted by his game at Georgia Tech where he had 6 receptions for 82 yards. Kumah has been the Hokies' answer for a bigger, phyiscal receiver that can win some 50-50 balls, and you can expect Brad Cornelsen will try to use Kumah's size to his advantage.
While Phillips is out, the Hokies should benefit from having CJ Carroll. Carroll returned against Virginia, but should be back at full speed with weeks of practice under his belt. Having the experienced Carroll will help give the Hokies another answer out of the slot, and likely lead to Savoy working more on the outside.
The Hokies have plenty of talent at receiver which should help spread the attention out from the OSU defense. However, the question is do the Hokies have a dominant receiver like Phillips who can be the focus of the offense and lead the charge. Savoy and Kumah have both shown the potential to do so, but Virginia Tech will need them to step up in this game.
1: Number of Mullets
There is no hair in college football like Mike Gundy's mullet.
0: Number of Losses To West Virginia This Season
Virginia Tech and Oklahoma State both beat West Virginia this past season. VT will have held the Black Diamond Trophy for 5,835 days at kickoff Thursday.
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