Orange Bowl prediction

You may have noticed that I am not in South Florida for the Discover Orange Bowl, which has been capably covered by Heather Dinich and Andrea Adelson.

But that doesn't mean I'm not going to pick the game!

Andrea provided some insights here and here and predicted Stanford to win 37-24.

That sounds pretty reasonable. I'm going with Stanford, too, 35-28.

I see a game that figures to be in doubt until well into the fourth quarter. And I think that, in the end, Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck is the difference. Virginia Tech has faced a few good quarterbacks -- Boise State's Kellen Moore and NC State's Russell Wilson top the list -- but no one like Luck. And no one with an elite running game to support him.

I expect Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor and the Hokies' outstanding rushing attack to give the Cardinal some trouble. Further, we really don't know if all the "We don't know where Harbaugh is going but he is going" talk has been a distraction. There's a lot of down time at bowl games. Players chat. You know that has been a hot topic, particularly with the young guys coming back in 2011.

Count on that being the excuse/explanation if Stanford lays an egg.

Still, this has been a mentally tough, focused team. And it's a talented one. By season's end, the Cardinal were playing as well as any team in the nation.

So Stanford should get it done. Then we all can worry about where Harbaugh will land (and if Luck is headed to the NFL draft).