for this game

Kansas uses defense, special teams to upset Virginia Tech

Jan 4, 2008 - 7:20 AM MIAMI (Ticker) -- Two days, two shocking upsets in the BCS.

No. 8 Kansas forced three interceptions and yielded just 306 total yards in a 24-21 upset of fifth-ranked Virginia Tech on Thursday in the Orange Bowl.

Todd Reesing completed 21-of-38 passes for 220 yards and a touchdown and also rushed for a score for the Jayhawks, who won a traditional New Year's Day bowl game for the first time in the 117-year history of the program.

"It means a lot," Kansas coach Mark Mangino said of the win. "It's another step for our program. I'm especially happy for our players who have worked so hard, and some of them have been in the program four or five years. And, you know, they had to endure the tough times to get here. I'm especially proud of them.

"A lot of people counted us out on this one, and we heard that for about a month. And that's OK because we've been in that position quite a bit. I think we always play better when we're an underdog anyhow."

Cornerback Aqib Talib was named the game's MVP and served as the star of Kansas' defense, returning an interception for a touchdown and deflecting a number of other balls away from Hokies receivers.

"I kind of felt it, man," Talib said. "That was our objective. We got the interception early and kept rolling. I was feeling it, I was feeling it. I felt like Deion (Sanders)."

One day after West Virginia buried Oklahoma in a Fiesta Bowl upset, Kansas (12-1) jumped to a big lead and held on against a Virginia Tech squad known for its stout defense and special teams dominance.

Talib opened the scoring when he intercepted Tyrod Taylor's pass at the Jayhawks' 40-yard line and returned it 60 yards for a 7-0 lead with 5:42 left in the first.

"We saw a lot of outs on film, and coach had us in the call where I was able to jump any route," Talib said. "So I just kind of slowed down in my back pedal and he ran the out. And the quarterback was a little late on the throw, and he threw me the ball."

Virginia Tech had a chance to cut the deficit to 7-3, but Jud Dunlevy came up short on a 49-yard field-goal attempt and Talib returned the live ball 47 yards.

The Jayhawks pushed the lead to 17-0 in the second quarter with a 32-yard field goal and Reesing's 13-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Henry with 7:03 left in the opening half.

"The game just didn't fit right," Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said. "Every time we got something going, something happened. ... They made some big plays and we made a few, but we missed a lot. Just some not very good execution for Virginia Tech."

Junior running back Branden Ore took over on Virginia Tech's ensuing drive, rushing 11 times for 42 yards - including a 1-yard touchdown dive that cut it to 17-7 before the break.

The Hokies' vaunted special teams stepped up on the first drive out of the locker room when Justin Harper caught a lateral on a punt return and ran 84 yards to pull within 17-14 with 11:35 left in the third.

Special teams let Virginia Tech down on its next possession as Dunlevy had a 25-yard tying field-goal attempt blocked by linebacker Joe Mortensen.

"It was great," Mortensen said of the block. "Coach called an all-out block, and we've been practicing it. We got great penetration by the D-line and I just turned my shoulders, slipped through and blocked it. It was great.

"It's the greatest day of my life, man. We really worked hard to be here and we know we deserved to be here, and we showed it today."

Quarterback Sean Glennon, who split time with Taylor behind center for the Hokies, led a touchdown drive in the fourth quarter that brought his team within 24-21, but an onside kick attempt failed, allowing Kansas to run out the clock.

"Walking up to the line of scrimmage and knowing that after I kneeled the ball, the game would be over and we would win, as soon as that clocked ticked (down), it was awesome," Reesing said. "I threw the ball up and everyone started celebrating. It's that feeling that you work for all year long and offseason and during the summer. It's everything that you work for in football."

Virginia Tech (11-3) entered the game ranked second in the nation in team defense, allowing just 293 yards per contest.

"You can't expect to win a BCS game when you turn the ball over," Glennon said. "Those mistakes cost us because they led to scores. Myself and Tyrod (Taylor), that has to fall on our shoulders because we have to take care of the ball. We both made mistakes."

The Jayhawks enjoyed a storybook year under Mangino and were in position to play for the national championship until suffering a 36-28 loss to Missouri in their regular-season finale.