Virginia Tech Hokies (8-4) vs. UCLA Bruins (9-3)
Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2:00 p.m. EST, CBS
Line: UCLA by 7.0
How Virginia Tech got here: Frank Beamer and the Hokies made the mistake of agreeing to open the season against Alabama at a neutral site. The Tide were a little sloppy but still took it to Tech 35-10. The Hokies could have easily lost to East Carolina (15-10 win) and Marshall (29-21 win), but they didn’t and reached 6-1. The final five games weren’t very pretty either as Tech lost to Duke, Boston College and Maryland.
How UCLA got here: The Bruins were thinking Rose Bowl after opening the season with five straight wins. But back-to-back losses to Stanford and Oregon put an end to those dreams. Closing out the regular season with a big win over rival USC (35-14), as well as an early season win over Nebraska showed a lot of people that the Bruins are close to being a Pac-12 contender.
For Virginia Tech to win: This game is all on Bud Foster’s defense. If they can figure out a way to confuse the balanced UCLA offense, then it will be come a low-scoring affair. With Tech’s offense, low scoring is what you can expect from at least the Hokies.
For UCLA to win: The Bruins want to get that 10th victory bad, so let Brett Hundley throw the ball and be a leader. He has big-play receivers in Shaq Evans and Devin Fuller, who will give Tech some serious match up problems. One drawback to Hundley having a big game is that he may decide to leave for the NFL. A so-so game may be enough to convince him to come back for another year.
Key Player (Virginia Tech): Logan Thomas, QB. The athletic Thomas has never quite lived up to his potential. His biggest issue has always been his inconsistent play. Still, he threw for 2,861 yards and 16 touchdowns this season. He always has the potential to deliver a big-time performance that Virginia Tech so desperately needs
Key Player (UCLA): Myles Jack, RB-LB. Is there anyone more exciting to watch on a football field? Not even Johnny Manziel is as exciting as Jack, who is as good at running the ball as he is at stopping runners on defense. Don’t be shocked when Jack is named the MVP of the Sun Bowl.
Key Stat: 4-10. That is UCLA’s record in its past 14 bowl games.