When the No. 17 UCLA Bruins (9-3, 6-3 Pac-12) square off against the Virginia Tech Hokies (8-4, 5-3 ACC) in the 2013 Hyundai Sun Bowl on Tuesday, Dec. 31, the battle for supremacy will be fierce.
UCLA is looking for its 10th win of the season for the first time since 2005. The Bruins have racked up three losses this year, but each came against a currently ranked team (Oregon, Stanford and Arizona State).
Virginia Tech has four losses of its own (Alabama, Duke, Boston College and Maryland), including three of the last five matchups this season, and looks to be playing with far less chemistry than UCLA.
If the Hokies can’t put together their best game on both offense and defense, the Bruins will steal the show on New Year’s Eve and walk away with a huge Sun Bowl victory.
Here are all the details needed to watch Tuesday’s bowl game, betting information, injury updates and a full prediction.
When: Tuesday, Dec. 31 at 2 p.m. ET
Where: Sun Bowl Stadium, El Paso, Texas
Live Stream: CBS Sports Live
Betting Lines (via Vegas Insider)
Spread: UCLA (-7)
Virginia Tech Injury Report (via USA Today)
|Full Virginia Tech Injury Report|
|Joe St. Germain||LS||Questionable||foot|
|Source: USA Today|
UCLA Injury Report (via USA Today)
|Full UCLA Injury Report|
|Source: USA Today|
Defense Reigns Supreme
For the college football fans that love hard-nosed defensive football, the battle between UCLA and Virginia Tech is exactly what you’re looking for in a bowl game.
The Hokies are ranked fourth in the nation allowing just 269.6 yards per game to opponents and have remained in contention in the ACC throughout this season on the shoulders of the defense. While Virginia Tech’s offense struggled to find consistency, the defensive unit has stepped up to carry the burden.
The Bruins have been just as strong this season, allowing just 24.1 points per game and 221.1 yards passing in the pass-happy Pac-12. UCLA is coming off a 35-14 victory over USC that helped prove how dominant the team can be on defense, and confidence is high for the Bruins.
Allowing only six points in a victory over Virginia on Nov. 30 has helped the confidence of a struggling Hokies team, but UCLA has a far more talented offensive unit than Virginia Tech has squared off against with the Cavaliers and the rest of the ACC.
The main difference in this matchup will be head coach Jim Mora and his game plan for the marquee bowl.
With sophomore Brett Hundley having a great season as one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the nation—racking up 2,845 yards passing and 22 touchdowns with another 587 yards rushing and nine touchdowns—Mora realizes the Bruins can and will capitalize on the mistakes that Virginia Tech will inevitably make.
These defensive battles are usually won by the team that protects the football better.
Hundley has amassed only nine interceptions this season and has leaned heavily on running the ball to do much of his damage. The offense is predicated on the rushing attack, and UCLA has done a great job avoiding turnovers.
Add in the fact that freshman phenom Myles Jack is rumbling out of the backfield—the linebacker was put in as a running back during a series of injuries and exploded for four touchdowns against Washington on Nov. 15—and the Bruins offense has the weapons to neutralize the Hokies defense.
Virginia Tech’s defense will keep the score close, but UCLA will walk away victorious.
Final Score: UCLA 24, Virginia Tech 17
*All stats via CFBStats.com.
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