CAMPING WORLD BOWL STORYLINES
1. Mason Rudolph, who was once recruited by Virginia Tech, will take the nation's top passing attack in No. 17 Oklahoma State to Orlando on Dec. 28 to challenge the 22nd-ranked Hokies in the Camping World Bowl. Rudolph completed 65 percent of his 457 attempts with 35 touchdowns against nine interceptions and led FBS in passing yards (4,553) and points responsible for per game (22.5). "We tried to recruit him," longtime Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster told reporters. "He's big, got a live arm. Very accurate. Strong. ... I think the NFL guys will like him a lot because he's in that 6-4, 6-5 range, and he's a drop-back guy. ... Just a lot of game experience, and it shows by his completion percentage, where he throws the ball, how quickly he gets rid of it, all those things."
2. The Hokies, however, have seen numerous up-tempo, spread offenses this season and haven't allowed 400 yards passing in any game this season and only two 300-yard games. Opposing quarterbacks completed 46.9 percent of their passes for an average of 187.2 yards per game with 14 touchdowns against 13 interceptions. "I have a ton of respect for (Bud Foster). He's been around there forever and he's one of the most well-thought of guys in the country," Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy told reporters. "Obviously they're only giving up 13 points a game, so we'll have our hands full on offense. I've watched them play a lot through the years. I know that he's got them in the top-20 in total defense and pass defense, and the top five in scoring and third-down defense, so he's doing well like always."
3. Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente, once a highly recruited quarterback in the state of Oklahoma, was recruited by Gundy, who was then a graduate assistant with the Cowboys. Hokies offensive line coach Vance Vice played with Gundy in Stillwater from 1986-88 where the two won the 1987 Holiday Bowl and 1988 Liberty Bowl alongside Thurman Thomas and Barry Sanders. "Vance and I were pretty good buddies in college and lived across the hall from each other in the dorms during the time that we were playing," Gundy recalled. "We've been friends for a long time. He was kind of a tough guy back in the day as one of those very physical tight ends in our offense."
TV: 5:15 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: Oklahoma State -4.5
ABOUT OKLAHOMA STATE (9-3, 6-3 Big 12): Rudolph will certainly be targeting wide receiver James Washington, the ninth unanimous All-American in school history and recipient of the 2017 Biletnikoff Award presented to the nation's top receiver. He finished the regular season with 69 catches for an FBS-high 1,423 yards and 12 touchdowns, and the senior led all FBS players with 17 catches of 30 yards or longer, 10 catches of 40 yards or longer and seven catches of 50 yards or longer. Sophomore running back Justice Hill ran for 1,347 yards - the most by a Cowboy in five years - and 14 TDs.
ABOUT VIRGINIA TECH (9-3, 5-3 ACC): Freshman quarterback Josh Jackson, who completed 60.3 percent of his passes for 2,743 yards with 19 TDs against eight interceptions, will attack a Cowboys' defense that yielded nearly 30 points per game and 400 total yards. Running back Travon McMillian, who led the Hokies in rushing (439 yards), decided to transfer and will not play. The Hokies have a decided edge in the kicking game, as they rank in the top 30 nationally in all four major special teams categories - punts, punt returns, kickoffs and kickoff returns - with Greg Stroman returning two punts for a touchdown and Virginia Tech yielding only 42 total yards on punt returns this season.
PREDICTION: Oklahoma State 31, Virginia Tech 28
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