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Beamer, Virginia Tech face Tulsa in Independence Bowl

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SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) This is no cliche - Frank Beamer's career has truly come full circle.

The longtime Virginia Tech head football coach will roam the sidelines for the final time when his Hokies (6-6) face Tulsa (6-6) in the Camping World Independence Bowl on Saturday. The game will mark Virginia Tech's 23rd consecutive postseason appearance under Beamer. The streak began in the same stadium in which Beamer, 69, will say goodbye to the college football world.

''Well, they've added a couple of big hotels,'' Beamer said of Shreveport. ''The people haven't changed. That's for sure. That's what I remember from then, and that's what I remember this time.''

After six roller-coaster seasons to start his reign in Blacksburg, Virginia, an 8-3 effort by the Hokies finally earned that 1993 bowl berth.

''We needed to get to a bowl at Virginia Tech at that time; we'd gone through some tough years,'' said Beamer, who is 237-121-2 in his career. ''I can remember how cordial and friendly and delightful the people were here in Shreveport. We were glad to be here, but they certainly made it feel like they were glad we were here.''

Beamer's counterpart, Philip Montgomery of Tulsa, understands. Montgomery, a first-year coach, hopes Saturday can help solidify the foundation he's quickly helped restore in Oklahoma.

Before the arrival of Montgomery - a former offensive coordinator under Art Briles at Baylor - Tulsa posted five total wins in two seasons.

Now, the Golden Hurricane are 14-point underdogs - the highest of any team in the bowl season.

''We've been underdogs all year - that's been our mantra,'' Montgomery said. ''We're going to be a blue-collar, hard-nosed team. That part's not going to change. Obviously our guys are excited about our opponent. Virginia Tech is an outstanding program, they have a ton of tradition behind them and they have a Hall of Fame head coach in his last game. We know the motivation is going to be there, obviously, but we have our own motivations.''


Here are some other things to know about the Independence Bowl:

CONTRASTING STYLES, LEAGUES: Saturday's matchup features a classic clash of styles. Tulsa's frenetic hurry-up offense averaged nearly 36 points per game this season and ranked 11th nationally in passing with 329.8 yards per game. Virginia Tech boasts the ninth-rated pass defense (173.8 yards per game). The Indy Bowl could be the perfect tonic for the Hokies' struggling pass offense (71st in nation, 216 yards per game) as Tulsa ranks No. 123 out of 127 teams allowing 293 yards passing per game. Tulsa ranks 119th allowing 38.6 points per game.

NO. 1 IN THE NATION?: Tulsa wide receiver Keyarris Garrett needs just 94 yards to supplant Roger Lewis of Bowling Green as the nation's No. 1 receiver. Garrett entered the postseason at No. 2 with 1,451 yards and Lewis managed only 68 yards in his bowl game. Garrett needs 272 receiving yards to become Tulsa's all-time leading receiver.

CHRISTMAS COMES EARLY: Garrett had one heck of a surprise upon his arrival in Shreveport. More than five years ago, local ABC affiliate KTBS named Garrett its Athlete of the Week. However, the Daingerfield, Texas, product never got his trophy. Wednesday, KTBS sports director Tatum Everett presented the nation's leading receiver with his long, lost hardware the Shreveport Convention Center.

''I was wondering -- kept asking my mom . I never got that trophy they said I was going to get,'' Garrett said. ''It's weird, but I'm glad you all kept it for me.''

HIGH SCHOOL REUNION: Virginia Tech starting quarterback Michael Brewer and Tulsa wide receiver Conner Floyd have played football together since third grade and were teammates at Lake Travis High School in Austin, Texas. Brewer said the duo went 62-3 and won a host of state titles during its four prep years.

BIGGEST DOGS OF THE BOWL SEASON: Virginia Tech enters Saturday's game as a 14-point favorite, the largest spread of the 40 bowl games prior to the national title game.


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