Sun Bowl Matchup: Virginia Tech Hokies vs. UCLA Bruins
Date/Time: December 31st, 2:00 ET
Point Spread: UCLA -7
The Sun Bowl pits one of the middling teams from the ACC up against one of the middling teams from the Pac-12, yet the UCLA Bruins are the heavy favorites over the Virginia Tech Hokies in El Paso.
Forget about that opening game of the season against the Alabama Crimson Tide. Take that away, and what’s left is a darn good 8-3 season for Head Coach Frank Beamer and the gang. Not all of the games have been easy, and in fact, most of the games have been quite ugly, but V-Tech is getting the job done. The team makes no bones about the fact that it has to play well defensively, because this offense just isn’t all that special. The defense has answered the bell though, and it started in that first game of the year against Alabama when the ‘D’ wasn’t guilty of allowing most of those points. This unit ranks in the Top 10 in the land in total defense (4th), pass defense (3rd), rush defense (8th), and scoring defense (8th), and it is one of the better units which Beamer has had in his time in Blacksburg, which is definitely saying something. Offensively though, QB Logan Thomas and the gang have lots of work to be done. Thomas underachieved his whole career, and the fact that he doesn’t even have 3,000 passing yards this year is telling in our eyes.
There was a point when the Bruins were one of the Top 10 teams in the nation, and many believed that they were actually that good. However, when you really look back at it, the team was beaten three times, each of which came against teams ranked in the Top 20 in the land, but even beyond that, a lot of the wins weren’t all that impressive. Games against the Arizona Wildcats and Washington Huskies could have easily gone the other way, and the Utah Utes had the Bruins dead to rights back in October. Even the Nebraska Cornhuskers were pummeling UCLA before the wheels fell off. The bottom line is that QB Brett Hundley needs to be the man of the hour. Through his first five games of the season, Hundley was averaging 293.8 passing yards per game, and he figured to be a Heisman Trophy contender. The man who finished out the year put up just 196.6 passing yards per game and didn’t have a single game with more than two passing TDs in that stretch.
The Bruins were crippled last year in the Holiday Bowl by the Baylor Bears, whom we later found out would go on to become one of the best teams in the country this season. V-Tech won the ugly Russell Athletic Bowl against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights last season, but it continued its string of six out of seven bowl games with 24 or fewer points scored.
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.