JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Dec. 31 -- While the Orange Bowl has Chris Weinke and Josh Heupel and the Rose Bowl features Drew Brees and Marques Tuiasosopo, Monday's Gator Bowl could make the claim that it has the premier matchup of signal-callers with No. 5 Virginia Tech's Michael Vick going against No. 13 Clemson's Woodrow Dantzler.
Vick was a Heisman Trophy candidate until suffering a sprained right ankle late in the first half of a victory over Pittsburgh on October 28. The next week, he hardly played as the Hokies (10-1) were beaten by Miami.
An injury also played a key part in the seasons of Dantzler and the Tigers (9-2), who began with eight wins before a three-point loss to Georgia Tech on October 28 derailed the national title hopes. Dantzler was slowed in that game because of a bruised ankle suffered the week before.
The following Saturday, Dantzler completed only seven passes in a 54-7 loss at Florida State.
While both Vick and Dantzler are dynamic, they are not your typical quarterbacks, directing offenses that rank fifth and 10th, respectively, in the nation in rushing. Dantzler ranks 47th in the nation in individual rushing with 86.1 yards per contest.
Vick's complement is Lee Suggs, a 6-0 sophomore who rushed for 1,207 yards and 27 touchdowns on 222 carries. Alongside Dantzler is the speedy Travis Zachery, who carried 201 times for 1,012 yards and matched his quarterback with 13 TDs on the ground.
Clemson ranks 18th in the nation in rushing defense and tied for 36th overall, while Virginia Tech is 16th against the ground game and 27th overall. The Tigers will be without starting defensive end Nick Eason, the team leader in sacks who suffered a torn achilles tendon in practice.
Virginia Tech is appearing in a bowl game for the eighth straight season. Last season the Hokies suffered a 46-29 loss to Florida State in the Sugar Bowl for the national title. The Tigers will be out to break a four-game bowl losing streak, with their last win a 14-13 triumph over Kentucky in the 1993 Peach Bowl. Last year, Clemson suffered its third straight Peach Bowl defeat, 17-7 to Mississippi State.