The Hokies are in a bowl game for the 27th consecutive season. This is the longest active streak in the NCAA and the fourth longest streak in NCAA history. While it has become easier to make a bowl game in recent years, this is still a big accomplishment. If the Hokies aren’t going to be in a New Year’s Six bowl, the Belk Bowl is a good consolation prize. It is in a location that is easy for many Virginia Tech fans to attend. And it is against a good opponent from the SEC.
Special Teams: 41st
Special Teams: 40th
Kentucky’s rankings are like Virginia Tech’s but they put up those stats in a tougher league. If the Hokies want another opportunity against a team like UVA, this is it. Bryce Perkins is a better passer than Lynn Bowden, but Bowden is a better runner with a better offensive line. Bud Foster has been good in the past stopping one-dimensional offenses. Especially with extra time to prepare. But this Kentucky rushing offense will be tough to stop for 60 minutes.
The Hokies will also be facing one of the better defenses in the SEC and in the country. They are a big, fast and experienced group. This group is tougher than any defense the Hokies have faced in the ACC this year. The Hokies have done a good job of keeping defenses on their toes with screens and misdirection. That may work against Kentucky but they will have had a long time to review tape to know the Hokies do on film. This is a good opportunity to throw in some wrinkles to keep the Kentucky defense on their toes.
The Hokies defense should be able to limit Kentucky’s one-dimensional attack. Lynn Bowden will break a big play or two but the Hokies defense should be able to limit Kentucky’s offense. What Virginia Tech can do on offense will decide this game. The Hokies need to be able to run the ball against Kentucky’s tough front seven. This game looks like what you’d hope from a bowl game — two well matched teams. The motivation factor of each team will have a lot to say over which team wins. The Hokies will want to move on from a disappointing performance against UVA. They will also want to send off Bud Foster the right way. But it may not be enough against a tough Kentucky team.
Prediction: Kentucky 28, Virginia Tech 27