Virginia Tech Hokies (8-4 SU, 4-7-1 ATS) vs. UCLA Bruins (9-3 SU, 8-4 ATS)
Sun Bowl Preview
Date and Time: Tuesday, December 31st, 2:00pm
Where: Sun Bowl Stadium - El Paso, Texas
by Bob, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: VT +7/UCLA -7
Over/Under Total: 47
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New Years Eve in El Paso, Texas we will get a good ACC/Pac-12 matchup between
two proud programs. The UCLA Bruins will take on the Hokies
of Virginia Tech in the Sun Bowl. The Sun Bowl has been played
since 1935, and it typically takes place between the 29th and 31st of December.
It isn’t the most intriguing of bowl games but we have seen some good matchups
over the years. Last season’s Sun Bowl gave us a 21-7 Georgia Tech win over
the preseason number one, USC Trojans. UCLA comes into this game as a touchdown
favorite over the Hokies, and the total points are set at 47. Bowl games
are always tough to handicap because in many cases, the games mean more
to other teams. Prime example was when Alabama went 12-0 in 2008-2009 and
lost the SEC Title game to Florida, which was the pretty much the playoff
game for a BCS title berth. Bama went on to the Sugar Bowl to be stunned
by the Utah Utes. Let’s be honest…Alabama had NO desire to be there. If
the Tide had been playing Utah for the BCS title, Bama wins that game 45-0.
The Sugar Bowl was the SUPER BOWL for Utah, it was just “our last game”
for Alabama. Long story short, which of these two teams care the most? That
is what will determine the outcome.
UCLA is a good team, a really good team. If their quarterback returns next season, which I think he will, they are a legit contender for the Pac-12 title, and maybe even more than that. Jim Mora has done a great job revitalizing this program and making them confident. Mora was the former Atlanta Falcons coach, and as a Falcons fan, I know a good bit about Jim Mora (jr). I always said he was an “ok” NFL coach, but he would make one heck of a college coach…he has done just that. UCLA had some big wins this season. They had an emotional come from behind win over Nebraska the week after the death of their wide out, Nick Pasquale. They also beat USC in the regular season finale, and they took down Arizona, who in their own right, is trying to get themselves in contention for a Pac-12 title run under Rich Rodriguez. UCLA ranks in the nation’s top 25 in points scored, putting up over 36 a contest, and their defense isn’t too bad either, only allowing right at 24 a game. The key to this game will be the offense of UCLA. Virginia Tech has a great defense, only giving up about 17 a game. UCLA will need to score more than that to win this thing. 24 is the key. Get t0 24, and I think the Bruins can win it…get to 31 and they cover the seven.
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Like I was just explaining above, Virginia Tech plays great defense. They are ranked 8th in the nation allowing only 17 points a game. Defense has been the key to the Hokies success over the last decade or so, but this year, that’s all they got. The Va Tech offense is HORRID. I mean, its bad. They are ranked 119th in the nation in rushing, 54th passing, and they barely crack the nation’s top 100 in scoring, only getting 23.4 a game. In order to beat UCLA, they must stop the pass. If Brett Hundley gets on a roll, the Hokies may not be able to keep up, but if they can keep UCLA from putting up a lot of points, this game could be a good one. Virginia Tech isn’t too bad at passing the ball, only problem is that their run game is so weak, UCLA can drop back into coverage and stop the pass. The Hokies must must must run the ball with success. If they can get some yards on the ground, and make UCLA respect the run, then we could see some points scored by Va Tech. The magic number for the Hokies to cover the spread is 20. If they hold the Bruins to 20 or less, I think they will be in prime shape to easily cover this seven points. Question is, can they slow down the UCLA offense?
Bob’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Like I said earlier, bowl games are always tough to pick because you never know where the kids heads are at. Some players take bowl games serious, while others just go through the motions. 73% of bettors so far like UCLA to cover the touchdown. This scares me a little, because coming in, I agreed. I never like being part of a group over 65% that leans a certain way. It is almost certain that way ends up losing. However, not only does UCLA have a better overall record, but they are better against the spread on the season. UCLA is the better all round team as well. They are more balanced on both sides of the ball than the Hokies, which we already discussed. I am going to do something crazy here, I am going to agree with the 73% Take the Bruins to cover the touchdown, but take the under. UCLA will beat Va Tech 21-13. PICK UCLA -7
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