Game to be played at Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina
Virginia Tech came up short in the ACC title game, but a win over Arkansas in the Belk Bowl on Dec. 29 would be a decent consolation prize for the Hokies. Virginia Tech and Arkansas will head to Charlotte for an intriguing matchup between two teams that posted some quality wins this season. The Hokies defeated North Carolina, Miami (Fla.) and Pittsburgh as part of a solid first season under coach Justin Fuente, while the Razorbacks topped TCU, Ole Miss and Florida as part of a 6-3 start before losing two of their final three games.
The Hokies got big production in the ACC title game from the usual suspects – quarterback Jerod Evans (one passing TD, two rushing TDs), Travon McMillian (two rushing scores) and Cam Phillips (12 catches, 92 yards and a TD). Evans enters the postseason with 27 touchdown strikes and seven interceptions, not to mention 10 rushing scores, while McMillian has added six TDs on the ground and another three through the air. Phillips (70 catches, 868 yards) forms a dangerous tandem with Isaiah Ford (73 receptions, 1,038 yards) for the Hokies, who are seeking their fourth bowl victory in the last five seasons.
The Razorbacks have won their last three bowl games, but they will likely need Austin Allen to play like he did in the first half of the season if they are going to extend their streak. Allen’s first five games featured 12 passing TDs, a rushing score and only two interceptions – both in the season opener. His last seven games saw him throw 11 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, including multiple picks in a disappointing loss to Missouri to end the regular season.
TV: 5:30 p.m. ET, ESPN.
LINE HISTORY: Oddsmakers opened the line with Virginia Tech as 6.5-point favorites and that quickly rose up to a touchdown. Earlier this week that line of 7 was faded down to as low as 6 before jumping back up to 7 on game day. The total opened at 61.5 and dropped to 61 and hasn’t moved off that number. Check out the complete line history here.
WEATHER REPORT: The forecast at Bank of America Stadium is calling for a clear night in Charlotte, with temperatures hovering in the high-40’s. Winds heading to the west at 17.
Arkansas – LB Dre Greenlaw (questionable, foot), RB Kody Walker (questionable, foot), WR Cody Hollister (out, foot)
Virginia Tech – RB Shai McKenzie (questionable, undisclosed)
ABOUT ARKANSAS (7-5 SU, 5-7 ATS, 6-6 OU): In one sense, the Razorbacks are a balanced team as they score 30.8 points on average and they also give up 30.8 points per contest. Rawleigh Williams III ran for at least 117 yards seven times this season and totaled 322 yards and five rushing scores in the last two games – a high-scoring win over Mississippi State and the 28-24 loss to Missouri. “I think they’ll be very eager,” coach Bret Bielema, whose team will be facing the Hokies for the first time in school history, told reporters. “We’d like to play one this week to get that taste out of your mouth. Our guys will handle it the right way. We’ve got a good group of seniors.”
ABOUT VIRGINIA TECH (9-4 SU, 7-6 ATS, 8-5 OU): The Hokies are appearing in their 24th straight bowl game, but of course it will be the first for Fuente, who helped his team surpass expectations after Frank Beamer failed to exceed eight wins in any of the last four seasons. “(Playing Arkansas) is going to be on line with the skill and the athletes of Pittsburgh and Clemson. That is the way I see it,” said Fuente, whose team defeated Pitt in late October – one of three three-point wins for the Hokies this season. Ford totaled 10 catches for 143 yards and a touchdown in that win over the Panthers but has scored only one TD in five games since and hasn’t reached 90 receiving yards in any of those contests.
* Razorbacks are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games following a straight up loss.
* Hokies are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games following a straight up loss.
* Hokies are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 vs. SEC.
* Over is 13-3 in Hokies last 16 non-conference games.
* Under is 7-1 in Razorbacks last 8 bowl games.
For a full list of hot and cold trends click here.
COVERS CONSENSUS: The public is on the underdog in this matchup, with 56 percent of wagers on Arkansas. As for the total, 59 percent of wagers are on the Over. Click here for in depth consensus data.