Stanford (12-1) earned its first bowl win in 14 years and likely will end the season ranked in the top 5 for the first time since the unbeaten 1940 team finished No. 2. The Cardinal's success comes only four years after they went 1-11 and hired coach Jim Harbaugh to lead a turnaround.
Virginia Tech (11-3), playing in a bowl game for the 18th consecutive year, fell to 1-27 against top-5 teams.
Stanford threw a completion for a bizarre safety and blew two extra points, but overcame those mistakes with six plays gaining more than 30 yards. Two came in succession on a two-play, 97-yard "drive," and the Cardinal outscored Tech 27-0 in the second half.