(7) Kansas 24

(12-1, 5-0 away)

(9) Virginia Tech 21

(11-3, 6-2 home)

8:00 PM ET, January 3, 2008

Sun Life Stadium, Miami, FL

1 2 3 4 T
#7KU 7 10 0 724
#9VT 0 7 7 721

Top Performers

Passing: T. Reesing (KU) - 227 YDS, 1 TD, 1 INT

Rushing: B. Ore (VT) - 23 CAR, 116 YDS, 1 TD

Receiving: D. Fields (KU) - 7 REC, 101 YDS

Jayhawks, Hokies find motivation at Orange Bowl

MIAMI (AP) -- Sometime late Thursday night, either Kansas' Mark Mangino or Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer will be summoned to accept a bowl of fruit.

Yes, you really do get oranges for winning the Orange Bowl.

There's no national championship at stake, but Kansas and Virginia Tech both see their matchup in Miami as much more than just another big bowl game -- and know they're playing for something besides citrus, too.

For No. 5 Virginia Tech (11-2), this is about history, getting to the 12-win mark for the first time and giving fans one more reason to cheer a year that will be remembered as the one following the April 16 on-campus massacre in Blacksburg in which 32 students and professors lost their lives.

"It's just what needs to happen," said Beamer, who has the Hokies in their 15th straight bowl game. "It's what needs to get done. Virginia Tech needed to rally around a football team. ... So we'll rally together and be stronger and tighter than ever. And I think that's what has happened."

For No. 8 Kansas (11-1), this is about silencing all doubters, the ones who said the Jayhawks only got here because their schedule was softer than a fresh bag of marshmallows and a school-record 11-win season still wasn't good enough to merit a spot in a BCS game.

"I don't think at this point in the season we have to prove ourselves any more," Jayhawks quarterback Todd Reesing said. "We won 11 games this year. How many other teams in the nation can say that? Not many. So you can point to our schedule, but we play in the Big 12. That's a damn good conference."

Add in the intrigue of a great Kansas offense facing a great Virginia Tech defense, and this might have makings of a classic.

"They're a solid football team and very well-coached and talented," Beamer said. "They've got all the ingredients."

Kansas' recipe starts with the nation's highest-scoring offense.

Hawaii held that distinction until managing only 10 points against Georgia in the Sugar Bowl, so now the Jayhawks -- with their 44.3 points-per-game average -- are in the top spot, and some of the stats they've put up this year are ridiculous.

Consider this, for starters: Kansas has 64 offensive touchdowns this year, against only 46 punts. The Jayhawks average 6.4 yards per play, have a two-pronged rushing attack in Brandon McAnderson and Jake Sharp (combined 1,838 yards and 23 scores) and elite receivers in Dexton Fields and Marcus Henry (who combine for 16 yards per catch). The offense is so good, very few people notice that Kansas' defense yielded only 16 points per game.

But it's Reesing who makes the Jayhawks' spread offense work. He completed 63 percent of his passes for 3,259 yards and 32 touchdowns, against only six interceptions in 409 attempts, yet Kansas knows the Hokies will represent the biggest challenge of the season.

"This is the best defense we've played against -- by far," Kansas tight end Derek Fine said. "I'm very, very impressed."

Virginia Tech allows 15.5 points per game, second-best in the nation behind Ohio State, and believes it has enough athleticism in the secondary to keep pace with the Jayhawks.

Still, the Hokies may miss a vital part of their defense.

Linebacker Vince Hall injured his left knee during a jet-skiing outing organized by the game's host committee earlier this week, Beamer said, and may not be ready Thursday night.

With Hall or without, Virginia Tech's defense understands the magnitude of this one.

"People might think that we come to a bowl game every year, so we might not pay attention to this one," Hokies defensive end Orion Martin said. "But we haven't won a BCS game in a while. Coach said this is probably one of our most important games since the '99 national championship game. So we know what's at stake."

So does Mangino.

For years, Kansas football was the thing that Jayhawk fans did to warm up for basketball season. Not any more, and the coach -- who quipped that the program was coming off "a tough century" -- is relishing this moment.

"When I first arrived at Kansas, it was disappointing," said Mangino, who was 25-35 in his first five Kansas seasons before this year's big turnaround earned him the AP Coach of the Year honors. "There were days that I was frustrated and said this ought to be better. The University of Kansas deserves better than this in their football program."

An Orange Bowl trip certainly qualifies as something better.


Passing Leaders

M. Cummings56.1171596
M. Cozart50.070157
M. Brewer59.426921815
M. Leal66.77710

Rushing Leaders

C. Avery1516314.25
D. Mann853994.70
J. Coleman1075335.03
M. Williams1244753.84

Receiving Leaders

J. Mundine4558413.03
N. King3053717.91
I. Ford5670912.76
B. Hodges4552611.77