Virginia Tech won’t be thinking only about football when the Hokies take the field Friday for the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando, Fla.
The team will also have the victims of the mass shooting in Connecticut in mind, honoring them with a special helmet decal.
Hokies players are wearing the decal on their helmets this week during practice in place of their usual helmet logo.
The logo features an orange and green ribbon, and includes “VT” and “SH” for Sandy Hook on opposite ends. It has the number “58” under the word “Prevail.” A smaller version will be worn on the back of their helmets during the game.
“It’s just one of those things where we’ve been through what those people up in Sandy Hook are going through,” Hokies coach Frank Beamer said. “We got 58 on the helmet there – the number of guys between us and them that (were) needlessly killed. We prevailed in Blacksburg (Va.), and I think, if anything, it brought us closer and more determined. The same thing is going to happen there. I can just tell that community is coming together.”
Beamer said the decision to wear the decal during Friday’s matchup with Rutgers was made because Virginia Tech – the site of a 2007 mass shooting – feels a kinship with the victims of the Dec. 14 shooting in which 20 children and six adults were killed.
The coaching staff will also honor the victims by wearing an orange, white and green ribbon, held together by a Virginia Tech pin, on the side of their hats.
CHIPPEWAS HOLD ON, 24-21
Ryan Radcliff threw an 11-yard TD pass to Cody Wilson with 5:11 remaining to give Central Michigan the lead, and Western Kentucky was stopped on fourth down when a field goal would have tied the game in the final minute, giving the Chippewas (7-6) a 24-21 win in Detroit’s Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.
Lance Guidry, coaching the Hilltoppers (7-6) on an interim basis before Bobby Petrino takes over, decided to go for the win on a fourth-and-2 from the 19 with 51 seconds to go, but Kawaun Jakes threw incomplete.
Georgia senior nose tackle John Jenkins’s college career is over. He will miss the Capital One Bowl because of grades. The 355-pound nose tackle has been a mainstay for the Bulldogs for two years, and is projected as a first-round NFL pick in April. … Syracuse suspended sophomore tailback Adonis Ameen-Moore, a short-yardage specialist, and reserve tight end Max Beaulieu for Saturday’s Pinstripe Bowl for violating athletic department rules. … Joe Krivak, Maryland coach from 1987-91, died at 77. Krivak coached quarterbacks for Bobby Ross in the 1980s, working with Boomer Esiason, Frank Reich and former Seattle Seahawk Stan Gelbaugh.
today’s college football bowl games
Bowling Green (8-4) vs. San Jose State (10-2), noon, Washington, D.C. (ESPN)
What’s at stake: A successful bowl comeback. Bowling Green hasn’t played in a postseason game since 2009, San Jose State since 2006. To see how far these schools have come in a short time, look at 2010 — when Bowling Green went 2-10 and San Jose State was 1-12. San Jose State’s quick turnaround cost the school its coach: Mike MacIntyre left for Colorado. Ron Caragher, hired from San Diego to replace MacIntyre, will attend the game as an observer.
Key matchup: San Jose State’s high-scoring offense vs. Bowling Green’s stingy defense. The Spartans averaged 35.3 points (26th among FBS schools), while the Falcons allowed only 15.8 (9th).
Players to watch: Bowling Green – DT Chris Jones, Mid-American Conference defensive player of the year, has 121/2 sacks and 19 tackles for loss. San Jose State – QB David Fales leads the nation in completion percentage (72.1) and ranks fourth with a 170.9 passer rating. He has 31 TDs and nine INTs.
The pick: San Jose State, 42-28.
Cincinnati (9-3) vs. Duke (6-6), 3:30 p.m., Charlotte, N.C. (ESPN)
What’s at stake: This is Duke’s first bowl game in 18 seasons and the Blue Devils haven’t won one since 1961, so this is a great opportunity for them. Cincinnati is a bowl-tested team; this is the Bearcats’ sixth postseason appearance in the past seven years. Cincinnati defeated Vanderbilt last season in the Liberty Bowl.
Key matchup: Cincinnati RB George Winn vs. Duke’s porous run defense. Winn has emerged as a playmaker this season for the Bearcats, rushing for 1,204 yards and 12 TDs. Over the past four games, the Blue Devils have allowed 51 points and 294.5 yards rushing on average.
Players to watch: Duke – WR Conner Vernon, the ACC’s career leader in receptions and yards receiving, has 75 receptions for 955 yards and seven TDs. Cincinnati – QB Brendon Kay came in against Syracuse and led the Bearcats to a key victory. He has thrown for 6 TDs.
The pick: Cincinnati, 30-17.
Baylor (7-5) vs. UCLA (9-4), 6:45 p.m., San Diego (ESPN)
What’s at stake: The Holiday Bowl bills itself as “America’s Most Exciting Bowl Game,” and these two teams can deliver. Baylor’s offense, led by QB Nick Florence, is first nationally with 578.8 yards per game and the Bears are fifth in scoring at 44.1 points. UCLA is led by running back Johnathan Franklin and quarterback Brett Hundley.
Key matchup: Baylor senior quarterback Nick Florence, who replaced Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III, against UCLA’s defense. Florence leads the nation in total offense with 387.7 yards per game. UCLA’s defense has allowed at least 27 points in each of its past four, including consecutive losses to Stanford. The second loss to the Cardinal was in the Pacific-12 Conference title game.
Players to watch: Baylor – Senior All-American Terrance Williams is first in the nation in yards receiving at 147 per game. UCLA – Senior running back Johnathan Franklin is UCLA’s career leading rusher (4,369), including 1,700 yards this season with 13 rushing touchdowns
The pick: UCLA, 35-31.The Associated Press