WHO: 9-3 UCLA (Pac-12) vs. 8-4 Virginia Tech (ACC)
WHAT: Hyundai Sun Bowl (79th year)
WHERE: Sun Bowl Stadium, El Paso, Texas
WHEN: Dec. 31 at 2 p.m. ET
WHY: Think No. 17 UCLA doesn’t have any motivation in this one? The Bruins have a chance to win 10 games and finish ranked for the first time since 2005. Virginia Tech is in its 21st-consecutive bowl game and is looking for its first-ever win over a team from the Pac-12.
The offensive advantage lies with the Bruins, led by talented sophomore quarterback Brett Hundley, who can beat defenses with his arms or with his legs. While the UCLA offensive line is young and often porous (Hundley has been sacked 33 times), that hasn’t prevented the Bruins from putting up nearly 37 points and 450 yards per game. The UCLA defense is led by a fantastic linebacker corps featuring All-American Anthony Barr and ultra-talented two-way player Myles Jack.
Tech is led by quarterback Logan Thomas, who is seemingly in his 20th year under center for the Hokies. Thomas has over 2,800 yards passing and 295 yards rushing and has the physical tools to take over a game when he wants to. As usual, the Tech defense is stout and ranks in the national top 10 in almost every conceivable category.
However, the Hokies don’t often face teams as dynamic as UCLA is on offense. Hundley is one of the most talented quarterbacks in the country and the young Bruins appear to be a team on the rise. Unless Thomas has a superb game, though, this one could get ugly.
PREDICTION: UCLA 34, Virginia Tech 17