WHO: Virginia Tech (8-4) vs. Kentucky (7-5)
WHAT: The 18th (and final, under this name at least) Belk Bowl
WHEN: Noon ET on ESPN
WHERE: Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C.
BUY TICKETS: Click Here
THE SKINNY: It’s the 20th meeting between these two in what should be as spirited a mid-afternoon, weekday game can get, as Virginia Tech is less than three hours from Charlotte and Kentucky is fired up to play anywhere this time of year.
In the final game of Bud Foster‘s esteemed career, he’ll have his hands full with Kentucky’s improvised offense. Behind quarterback Lynn Bowden, Jr., the Wildcats essentially run the Wishbone, just from the shotgun. Bowden has thrown for just 330 yards this season, but ran for 1,235 — almost all of them coming over the last seven games. The Hornung Award winner as the nation’s most versatile player, Bowden eviscerated Louisville to the tune of 284 yards and four touchdowns on just 22 carries en route to a 45-13 win.
Virginia Tech has struggled to contain running quarterbacks (though Bowden may more accurately be described as a throwing running back at this point; he was 1-of-2 for four yards against Louisville). In fact, the entire reason Foster’s farewell is today and not last night’s Orange Bowl was because Bryce Perkins rushed for 164 yards and two touchdowns in addition to his 266 yards and two scores through the air in Virginia’s 39-30, ACC Coastal clinching, Commonwealth Cup streak ending win on Nov. 29.
With Virginia Tech fired up to send Foster out a winner, the guess here is the Hokies corral Bowden just enough to get the win.
THE PICK: Virginia Tech 24, Kentucky 22