The Virginia Tech Hokies, who are on a 6-1-1 spread run in bowl games, were 2-1 as an underdog this year.
The UCLA Bruins have gone 3-3 against the number in their last six bowl appearances and are 16-10 versus the spread since last season.
Point spread: Bruins opened as 7-point favorites; the total was 48. (Line updates and matchup report)
Odds Shark computer prediction: 34.9-29.0 Bruins
Why UCLA can cover the spread
The Bruins, who have stayed under in seven of their last 10 bowl games, have made it no secret they're still stinging from last year's Holiday Bowl loss to Baylor. UCLA (9-3) was installed as a small favorite, but was humiliated by the Bears.
This year the Bruins have vowed to use 2012's season-ending setback as a learning curve, and have been preparing for Virginia Tech since the matchup was announced. A win here would set the tone for the future, as coach Jim Mora has done a great job with a youth-laden roster, including dual-threat quarterback Brett Hundley.
Why Virginia Tech can cover the spread
The Hokies (8-4) can be physical on defense, whether it's winning the battle in the trenches or hard-hitting personnel in the defensive secondary. Tech is expected get cornerbacks Kyle Fuller and Antone Exum back for this game. Those two honestly would change the complexion of this stop unit, which also includes NFL prospects in strong safety Kyshoen Jarrett and defensive tackle Luther Maddy.
If there is one thing the Hokies have that can slow down UCLA's exuberant offense, it's their experienced defense. Tech limited five of its 12 opponents to 10 points or less and seven of the 12 to 17 points or less, and underdogs have dominated at the Sun Bowl betting window lately with a 6-1 against the spread (ATS) streak.
As good as UCLA has been, Virginia Tech catching +7 points is going to be your play in this game. The Hokies lost several close football games they let get away from them, and are looking for redemption for several disappointments.
Forget a pleasant bowl experience—head coach Frank Beamer has made this out to be a must-win game for this to be considered a successful season.
Finally, the underdog has covered six of the past seven Sun Bowls. On a side note for those looking at a possible play on the total, the Sun Bowl betting odds history shows nine of the past 12 have played OVER the posted total.
- Underdogs are 6-1 ATS past seven Sun Bowls
- UNDER is 7-3 past 10 UCLA bowl games
- Virginia Tech is 6-1-1 ATS past eight bowl games