Virginia Tech may have given up more offensive yards, but a familiar formula built on the strength of big defensive plays helped the Hokies pull away from Cincinnati for a 33-17 victory in the Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman in Annapolis, Maryland on Saturday afternoon. The victory marked the 10th postseason bowl victory for Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer, who coached the game from the coaches box.
Beamer is the 10th coach in college football history to win 10 bowl games. The only other active coach with 10+ bowl wins is Steve Spurrier of South Carolina. Beamer is now two wins out of fifth place for most all-time bowl victories, an honor shared by Lou Holtz and Tom Osborne (12 wins each).
Virginia Tech forced three turnovers, including a pair of interceptions and one fumble that was returned for a pivotal touchdown. The defense was chewed up at times, but the Hokies buckled down when needed with big plays to keep control of the game. On offense, J.C. Coleman carried the bulk of the offense with 157 rushing yards and a touchdown.
Cincinnati may have lost a chance to win against Virginia Tech when quarterback Gunner Kiel was knocked out of the game. As Kiel was taken down by Virginia Tech’s Deon Clarke. Kiel hit his head on the play, which left him on the sideline for the remainder of the game. Without Munchie Legaux in uniform, Cincinnati turned to Michael Colosimo, who took a little time to settle in as the quarterback. Cincinnati scored just one touchdown since Colosimo’s entrance to the game in the third quarter. With Virginia Tech continuing to add points, that ruled out much shot of a comeback for a bowl victory.
The 2014 season was not a terrific one for the Hokies. Virginia Tech was a .500 team with a number of offensive issues from start to finish, although the Hokies scored a huge win on the road against Ohio State early in the year. The season looked promising after that win in Columbus, but things turned south quickly with a home loss to East Carolina and an up-and-down run through ACC play. The future of Virginia Tech should be interesting, with Beamer coming off throat surgery and Bud Foster locked into a coaching extension. The Hokies are still in need of offense in 2015, because the defense will continue to be as reliable as any.
For Cincinnati, the Bearcats are still likely to be in a favorable position to remain among the top programs in the Group of Five conversation. Co-champions of the American Athletic Conference this season, Tommy Tuberville has some good things happening with the program. This is certainly not the way Tuberville wanted this season to end, but it helps to demonstrate just how far the program has to go. Cincinnati lost three straight games to Ohio State, Memphis and the Miami Hurricanes early in the season, but went on to win seven straight games heading into the Military Bowl match-up with Virginia Tech. Cincinnati did some good things against Virginia Tech but was unable to finish the job too often with empty possessions.