Orange Bowl tabs No. 5 Stanford, No. 12 VaTech

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Orange Bowl tabs No. 5 Stanford, No. 12 VaTech

Dec. 5, 2010STANFORD PAGE COLLEGE PAGE

MIAMI (AP) -- The Orange Bowl will be a matchup of turnaround teams: No. 5 Stanford vs. No. 12 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 coach Jim Harbaugh and the Cardinal, who have gone from 1-11 to 11-1 in four years.

RELATED: Auburn, Oregon set for BCS title game

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. But 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.

RELATED: Rose Bowl features TCU, Wisconsin

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.

RELATED: Arkansas, Ohio State headed to Sugar Bowl

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.

A's spring training Day 8: Top pick AJ Puk attracts a crowd

A's spring training Day 8: Top pick AJ Puk attracts a crowd

MESA, Ariz. — The A’s are excited about 2016 top pick A.J. Puk, that much was apparent by the crowd the lefty attracted for his first “live” bullpen session Tuesday.

Among those watching closely were executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane, general manager David Forst, manager Bob Melvin and pitching coach Curt Young.

Puk, who shaved about 20 pounds off his 6-foot-7 frame over the winter, looked strong against a group of hitters that included touted infield prospects Franklin Barreto and Yairo Munoz.

Melvin in particular liked the way Puk, the No. 6 overall pick out of the University of Florida, worked his curve ball into the mix. That’s a pitch he hadn’t used since high school, but he dusted it off back in the fall instructional league with some encouragement from minor league pitching coordinator Gil Patterson, and he’s working to sharpen it this spring as a complement to his fastball, slider and changeup.

“It’s just nice to have another pitch that’s slower than my other three pitches,” Puk said before Tuesday’s workout.

“It’s a four-pitch mix,” Melvin said. “He’s really starting to distinguish between this slider and curve ball. It was quite a crowd around his cage too. When you’re a young kid you tend to notice that, but I thought he responded really well.”

Puk, 21, is rooming with shortstop Richie Martin, a teammate at Florida whom the A’s made their top pick in 2015. They also lived near each other in Tampa this offseason and worked out together.

Puk comes off very quiet upon meeting him, but Martin warns against being fooled.

“It takes him a while, but once he feels comfortable he’ll break out. You’ll see.”

Melvin was impressed with Puk’s physical shape, saying he’s fielded his position well in pitchers’ fielding drills.

CAMP BATTLE Jesse Hahn will start the A’s Cactus League opener Saturday against the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs. It’ll be a chance for Hahn to make an early impression in his bid for the fifth starter spot.

“After the year he had (in 2016), it’s important for him this year. We have to show some faith in him,” Melvin said. “He performed well for us the year before. Last year wasn’t really consistent. We’ll try to get him out there and get him off to a good start.”

Kendall Graveman will take the ball in Sunday’s spring home opener against the Angels. Sonny Gray and Sean Manaea both will pitch Monday against the Giants and Jharel Cotton and Andrew Triggs will be among the group throwing Tuesday against the Indians.

PROSPECT WATCH: Sean Murphy, the A’s third-round pick in June, has shown a very strong throwing arm early in camp. Is it any wonder Melvin, an ex-catcher, was impressed?

“The kid can throw, it’s special,” Melvin said. “We really like him.”

NOTEWORTHY: Still no word on when reliever Santiago Casilla will arrive at camp from the Dominican Republic. Melvin said he isn’t concerned at this stage, and noted that Casilla has been working out at the team’s complex in the Dominican Republic and gave a motivational talk to the younger players there.

Cousins thanks Sacramento: 'Wouldn't trade it for anything'

Cousins thanks Sacramento: 'Wouldn't trade it for anything'

The Kings traded DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday, prompting the All-Star big man to post a heartfelt message on his Instagram account.

Words can't even express how hard it is for me to have to leave the city of Sacramento and all of the amazing people that I have met while out here. I gave it my all for you and you gave it right back. The most amazing fans on the planet and I just want you to know that your support has meant everything to me. It's hard to believe that it was seven years ago that this young kid from Alabama showed up in Sacramento scared and not knowing a soul. As I look back upon my time here, I wouldn't trade it for anything. I have met so many amazing people, many of whom went out of their way to make me feel right at home from day one. Each and every one of you have played such an important part in my life and helping me become the person I am today. I don't just consider you all as fans, you all are my family...and a couple thousand miles aren't going to change a thing. Thank you Sacramento. 
#LoyaltyisLove #sactownkingforever

Cousins, 26, averaged 27.8 points, 10.7 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 1.4 steals, 1.3 blocks and 34.4 minutes per game for the Kings this year.

Words can't even express how hard it is for me to have to leave the city of Sacramento and all of the amazing people that I have met while out here. I gave it my all for you and you gave it right back. The most amazing fans on the planet and I just want you to know that your support has meant everything to me. It's hard to believe that it was seven years ago that this young kid from Alabama showed up in Sacramento scared and not knowing a soul. As I look back upon my time here, I wouldn't trade it for anything. I have met so many amazing people, many of whom went out of their way to make me feel right at home from day one. Each and every one of you have played such an important part in my life and helping me become the person I am today. I don't just consider you all as fans, you all are my family...and a couple thousand miles aren't going to change a thing. Thank you Sacramento. #LoyaltyisLove

A post shared by DeMarcus Cousins (@boogiecousins) on