Kansas Football To Face Virginia Tech In FedEx Orange Bowl Thursday Night

Jan. 3, 2008

MIAMI, Fla. – For the third time in history, Kansas will play a football bowl game in the month of January as the Jayhawks face Virginia Tech in the FedEx Orange Bowl on Thursday at 7:20 p.m. Central time. The game will be televised nationally on FOX.<?xml:namespace prefix=”o” ns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office”?>

Eighth-ranked <?xml:namespace prefix=”st1″ ns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags”?>Kansas enters the game with an 11-1 overall record, including a 7-1 mark in the Big 12 Conference. Virginia Tech is ranked third nationally and owns an 11-2 overall record and a 7-1 mark in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Virginia Tech is the ACC champion after defeating BostonCollege 30-16 in the conference championship game. The Hokies are making their 15th consecutive bowl appearance.

Kansas is making its 11th all-time bowl appearance as well as its third in the last five seasons. The Jayhawks recently played in the 2003 Tangerine and 2005 Forth Worth Bowls under the direction of head coach Mark Mangino.

KU is making its third ever Orange Bowl appearance as the Jayhawks lost 20-14 to Georgia Tech in the 1948 contest and 15-14 to PennState in the 1969 game.

“It is a big game.” Mangino said. “Our kids are smart. We are not going to try to fool them and just tell them that this is just another game. But it is still football. The field is 100 yards, they have 11, we have 11. It is the same concept, just a few more people will be paying attention to it.”

Kansas will rely on its balanced offensive attack, as the Jayhawks are one of just three schools to rank in the top 30 in both rushing and passing offense this year. KU is 27th in rushing and 14th in passing, joining BoiseState (29th in rushing and 22nd in passing) and Houston (10th in rushing and 27th in passing).

Quarterback Todd Reesing has thrown for a school season record 3,259 yards while hitting a school mark 62.6 percent of his attempts. His favorite targets have included Dexton Fields, who leads the team with 56 catches, and Marcus Henry, who leads the team with 994 yards on 52 receptions.

Brandon McAnderson has rushed for 1,050 yards, while backup Jake Sharp has added 788 yards on the ground.

Defensively, KU’s three starting linebackers are the team’s leading tacklers as Joe Mortensen has made 98 stops, James Holt 91 and Mike Rivera 84. Cornerback Aqib Talib has four interceptions and 13 passes broken up.

The return game features Marcus Herford, who was named the Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Year after averaging 30.0 yards per kickoff return this season. He also returned two kickoffs for touchdowns.