Hyundai Sun Bowl Picks: Virginia Tech vs. UCLA

Thursday, December 12, 2013 1:39 PM UTC

Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013 1:39 PM UTC

Celebrating its 80th birthday this year, the Sun Bowl will be televised by CBS with a 2 PM (ET) kickoff on New Year's Eve.  One of two matchups that afternoon pitting the ACC against the Pac-12, the opposing sidelines will be occupied by the Virginia Tech Hokies and UCLA Bruins.
<p style="text-align:center"> <style type="text/css"><!-- br {mso-data-placement:same-cell;} --></style> <span style="font-size:13px;font-family:arial,sans,sans-serif;color:#000000;text-align:left"></span></p> <p>The first-ever gridiron meeting between the two schools opened up with the Bruins as touchdown favorites, and there has little to no movement to that spread. Early totals on SBR's <a href="/betting-odds/college-football/" title="Live and up-to-date college football odds" target="_blank">live college football odds</a> have bounced between 48 and 50 for a game that features a good UCLA offense opposite a stout Va Tech defense.</p> <p><b style="font-size:1em">Hokies Prep for 21st-Straight Bowl Appearance</b></p> <p><img id="ctl00_head_ArticleAdministrator_picturePreview_imgSelectedPicture" alt="Image preview" class="imgSelectedPicture article-image" src="/picks-pictures/hokiehokie.jpg" style="font-size:1em" />Seeing Frank Beamer take Virginia Tech into college football's postseason schedule is nothing new. Beamer, who just wrapped up his 27th season in Blacksburg, has the Hokies about to play in their 21st consecutive bowl game and hoping to improve on a 9-11 record in that span.</p> <p><span style="font-size:1em">Virginia Tech (8-4 straight up, 4-6-2 against the spread) had to open the year against defending national champ </span><st1:state style="font-size:1em">Alabama</st1:state><span style="font-size:1em">, suffering a 35-10 setback to the Crimson Tide, and then reeled off six straight wins to gain bowl eligibility by the second Saturday of October.</span> <span style="font-size:1em"> But three close ACC losses in the final five games took the Hokies out of the conference championship picture, tying Miami-FL for second in Coastal Division.</span> <span style="font-size:1em">All three ACC defeats were by seven points or less.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size:1em">The Hokies only covered one of last five games, and that was <a href="/college-football/free-picks/college-football-pick-virginia-tech-vs-miami-a-34732/" title="Read our preview and picks from this game" target="_blank">a 42-24 triumph at the Hurricanes</a> as 5 point road 'dogs.</span> <span style="font-size:1em">Those 42 points went against the norm for a Va Tech offense that averaged only 23.4 per game (96th in nation), and it was also a rather abnormal day for Logan Thomas and the offense by not turning the ball over.</span> <span style="font-size:1em">Beamer would no doubt love a similar performance from Thomas &amp; Company against a decent but exploitable UCLA defense.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size:1em">The Bruins, in turn, are facing one of the top defenses in the country.</span><st1:place style="font-size:1em"><st1:placename> Michigan</st1:placename> <st1:placetype>State</st1:placetype></st1:place><span style="font-size:1em"> hogged a lot of the defensive accolades in 2013, but Virginia Tech's stop unit wasn't far behind the Spartans in total yards allowed (269.6) and scoring (17.4 ppg).</span></p> <p><span style="font-size:1em">The Hokies could be without a couple of key players on defense and special teams; Cornerback Antone Exum is questionable with an ankle injury, and special teams stud Matt Roth is in the same boat with a concussion that kept him on the sidelines the final three games.</span></p> <p style="text-align:center"><a href="" title="Shop around for the best lines and odds" target="_blank"><span style="font-size:1em"></span><em style="text-align:center;font-size:1em"><span style="font-size:1em">Read SBR's sportsbook reviews to find the best bookie for you!</span></em></a></p> <p><b style="font-size:1em">Mora Gets Big Extension To Stay At UCLA</b></p> <p><img id="ctl00_head_ArticleAdministrator_picturePreview_imgSelectedPicture" alt="Image preview" class="imgSelectedPicture article-image" src="/picks-pictures/bruinfoosball.jpg" style="font-size:1em" />It certainly hasn't taken Jim Mora long to help Bruins alum forget the sour ending to the Rick Neuheisel era. Having just completed his second year at Westwood, Mora has delivered back-to-back 9-win seasons and a chance to win 10 for the first time since 2005, coincidentally the last time UCLA (9-3 SU, 8-4 ATS) was in the Sun Bowl. That prompted Bruins AD Dan Guerrero to get Mora's name on a contract extension that runs through 2019.</p> <p><span style="font-size:1em">The Bruins lost a shot at the Pac-12 title tilt with a 38-33 home loss to </span><st1:place style="font-size:1em"><st1:placename>Arizona</st1:placename> <st1:placetype>State</st1:placetype></st1:place><span style="font-size:1em"> before Thanksgiving, a game that was really decided in the closing seconds of the first quarter and opening play of the second.</span> <span style="font-size:1em">UCLA did rebound nicely <a href="/college-football/free-picks/college-football-picks-ucla-vs-usc-betting-preview-a-35340/" title="Be sure to read our betting preview for this game" target="_parent">with a 35-14 thrashing of crosstown rivals USC</a>, the first Bruins win over the Trojans at the LA Coliseum since 1997.</span> <span style="font-size:1em">Getting 4.5 in the contest, UCLA easily covered to give their backers the cash in three of the last four regular season matches.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size:1em">Brett Hundley directed and starred in a pretty efficient UCLA offense, leading the team in rushing (587 yds) to go with over 2,800 yards passing and a 22:9 TD-interception ratio.</span> <span style="font-size:1em">The sophomore was only picked off once in the last five games, but it was a costly INT that </span><st1:place style="font-size:1em"><st1:placename>Arizona</st1:placename> <st1:placetype>State</st1:placetype></st1:place><span style="font-size:1em"> ran back for a momentum-changing touchdown.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size:1em">There's <a href="" title="Discuss with other bettors your plays and picks for all the bowl games" target="_blank">a reason it's called the Sun Bowl</a> since there's usually plenty of sunshine in </span><st1:place style="font-size:1em">El Paso</st1:place><span style="font-size:1em"> this or any other time of the year.</span> <span style="font-size:1em">But it could be on the very cool side of the thermometer, and there's a chance of windy conditions so bettors are encouraged to get a forecast before making a final decision.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size:1em">I'm tempted to ride with the Hokies as underdogs, but the total intrigues me more.</span> <span style="font-size:1em">I'm adding the 'over' to my list of <a href="/college-football/" title="Free college football picks for every bowl game" target="_blank">free college football bowl game picks.</a></span></p> <p><b style="font-size:1em">My pick:</b><span style="font-size:1em"> </span><st1:state style="font-size:1em">Virginia</st1:state><span style="font-size:1em"> Tech-UCLA Over 48</span></p> <p><b>Reg. Season:</b> 31-15 (+14.5)</p> <p>[gameodds]6/252343/?r3=43-19-349/dec&amp;r-1=43-19-349/us[/gameodds]</p>
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