Sun Bowl Preview: UCLA vs. Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech (8-4, 5-3 ACC) vs. UCLA (9-3, 6-3 Pac-12)
Dec 31, 2 p.m. ET (CBS)
Virginia Tech Players to Watch:
Logan Thomas, QB--He’s the obvious leader of the offense and is the key to his team’s success. If Thomas plays well, they have a great chance to win this game. If he can simply manage the game and not turn the ball over, it’ll put his fourth-ranked defense in great shape to stop the Bruins.
Kyshoen Jarrett, SS--This third-team All-ACC safety and second-leading tackler for the Hokies will be a vital component in stopping Bruins' playmakers. He will have to slow down the nation’s 38th-ranked rushing attack. His fellow defensive back Kyle Fuller is still questionable to return for the game, but his presence would give the already stout defense a huge lift.
UCLA Players to Watch:
Brett Hundley, QB--Not only does Hundley lead the passing attack for the Bruins, he’s also leading the team in carries and yards. He’s accounted for 31 of UCLA’s touchdowns and has only thrown nine interceptions all season. We’ll see if he can put pressure on Virginia Tech’s defense, considering it hasn't seen a quarterback like Hundley all year.
Myles Jack, RB/LB--Winning both the freshman offensive and defensive player of the year in the Pac-12, it’s safe to say commentators will be saying his name often. Jack has scored seven touchdowns on offense and has also recorded 70 tackles on defense. His speed on defense will be instrumental to stopping the already challenged offense of Virginia Tech.
Virginia Tech Key to Victory:
Keep this game in the 'teens. Essentially what the Hokies need to do is play “Beamer Ball” and keep the ball away from UCLA’s offense. They also could use a play or two from the special teams unit, and Beamer is notorious for great play in this area. If the Hokies can do this and win the turnover battle, they’ll be in this game.
UCLA Key to Victory:
It’s pretty simple for the Bruins: make Virginia Tech beat you. If the defense can avoid giving up the big play and keep pressure on Logan Thomas, they should be going into the fourth quarter with a lead. Brett Hundley has thrown an interception in all three losses UCLA has suffered this season. If they can take care of the ball they’ll win.
Line: UCLA (-7)
Prediction: Virginia Tech has a tenacious defense but I expect Hundley to be the answer for UCLA. Jim Mora and his staff are looking for momentum to take into this recruiting season and it looks as if they’ll get it. UCLA’s offense will be too much for the Hokies to handle.
UCLA 23, Virginia Tech 13