The Orange Bowl will be a matchup of turnaround teams — Stanford vs. Virginia Tech.
Stanford earned a bid Sunday to face the Hokies in the BCS bowl on Jan. 3. The berth caps a remarkable resurgence for the fifth-ranked Cardinal, who have gone from 1-11 to 11-1 in four years.
Virginia Tech is on the rise, too. After stumbling at the start this season, the Hokies (11-2) have won 11 consecutive games, including a 44-33 victory Saturday over Florida State for their third Atlantic Coast Conference title in four years.
Under the BCS format, the ACC winner earns a spot in the Orange Bowl. Until Sunday night, it was uncertain where Stanford was headed. The Cardinal finished fourth in the BCS rankings, and the top four teams are assured of bids to BCS games.
Now Cardinal fans will be traveling across the country for a matchup of standout quarterbacks. Stanford's Andrew Luck is one of the top pro prospects in the country, and Tech's Tyrod Taylor is the ACC player of the year.
Luck broke the Stanford record of 27 touchdown passes in a season held by John Elway and Steve Stenstrom. The Cardinal also have a 1,000-yard rusher in Stepfan Taylor and a defense that posted three shutouts.
Tyrod Taylor, who draws comparisons to Michael Vick, threw for three touchdowns and ran for another against Florida State. Taylor has thrown 23 scoring passes, one more than Maurice DeShazo's old school record.
Tech's hopes of contending for the national title were dashed in a five-day span at the start of the season. The Hokies lost to Boise State and endured a stunning home upset against lower-tier James Madison.
They regrouped to enjoy the kind of year that has become common under coach Frank Beamer. The Hokies have won four ACC titles since joining the league in 2004, and they're the only team in the country to win 10 games each of the past seven seasons.
Stanford's improvement has been steady since coach Jim Harbaugh took over in 2007. His team won four games that year and five in 2008.
Last season the Cardinal won eight games and made it to the Sun Bowl, their first bowl since 2001.