Virginia Tech vs. Arkansas, 12/29/16 - Prediction & Preview
Written by: Benjamin Hayes
Arkansas Razorbacks (7-5 SU, 5-7 ATS, 6-6 O/U) vs. Virginia Tech Hokies (9-4 SU, 7-6 ATS, 8-5 O/U)
When and Where: Thursday, Dec. 29, Belk Bowl, Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, N.C., 5:30pmET
Line: Virginia Tech -7.5
Virginia Tech is one of the most consistent football programs in the nation. The Hokies will make their 24th straight bowl game and this will be the first under new coach Justin Fuente. Arkansas has a strong offense, averaging 30.8 points per game, but they are also allowing 30.8 points per game. They are coming off a 28-24 loss at Missouri in their regular-season finale on Nov. 25. The Hokies fell to Clemson, 42-35 in the ACC Championship game on Dec. 3. These two teams have never met.
Allen is the key for the Razorbacks’ offense
Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen threw for 12 touchdowns in his team’s first five games with just two picks. But in his last seven games, he threw for 11 TDs with 10 picks. That included two interceptions against Missouri in the Razorbacks’ finale. Allen did throw 348 yards in that game, while running back Rawleigh Williams added 117 yards and a score on the ground. But the Razorbacks blew a 17-0 first-half lead and a 24-7 halftime lead, while not scoring in the second half.
This is the same team that beat Florida at home, 31-10, yet lost to Missouri by four and Auburn, 56-3. They’ve been up-and-down, having not won consecutive games since September. On offense, Allen is the key. He has completed 61.4 percent of his passes for 3,152 yards, 23 TDs and 12 picks. Williams leads in rushing with 1,326 yards and 12 TDs. On defense, linebacker Brooks Ellis leads the team tackles with 78 and TFLs with seven. That defense has struggled this season, allowing 428.7 yards per game (75th), 219.3 passing yards per game (54th) and 209.3 rushing yards per game (94th). On offense, they average 263 passing yards and 175.1 rushing yards per game.
Hokies are 0-1 against SEC this season
In the second game of the season, Virginia Tech faced Tennessee from Bristol Motor Speedway and lost 45.24 in front of a record crowd of 156,990. The Hokies lost despite allowing just 330 yards because they lost five fumbles. The Hokies also coughed up four fumbles in their opening win against Liberty (36-13). But the Hokies rebounded with three straight wins and six of seven. Their one loss in that stretch was to Syracuse on Oct. 15, 31-17-by far the worse loss of the season for the Hokies. Yet the Hokies found a way to make the ACC title game before losing to the Tigers. Quarterback Jerod Evans (6-3, 238) season for the Hokies after arriving from junior college. He threw for 3,309 yards with 27 touchdowns with seven picks, completing 63.5 percent of his passes. He also rushed for 10 scores and 759 yards to lead the team. Evans also had plenty of weapons included Isaiah Ford, who has 73 catches for 1,038 yards with seven TDs. Tight end Bucky Hodges adds 43 catches for 640 yards and seven TDs (14.9ypc).
Virginia Tech’s defense ranks 19th in the nation in yards allowed per game (342.8ypg) and 23rd in passing yards allowed (194.2ypg). They average 448.2 yards per game (40th) and 263.3 passing yards per game (34th). Linebacker Tremain Edmunds is the anchor of the defense with 99 tackles, 17 for loss and adds 4.5 sacks.
College Football Trends:
- 3-8 ATS last 11 neutral site games.
Virginia Tech is:
- 4-1 ATS last 5 following a SU loss.
- 7-3 ATS last 10 in December.
Arkansas has an explosive offense but they won’t be able to contain Hodges, Ford and Evans on offense. Virginia Tech has the better defense led by long-time coordinator Bud Foster, who is in his 30th season with the program. Barring five fumbles again, the Hokies take care of business by double digits in this one.
Pick: Virginia Tech -7.5
Ben has been a sports writer for over 30 years, dabbling in college and pro basketball, college and pro football, baseball, college lacrosse, minor league baseball and even college gymnastics. He's also been involved in the gaming industry for over 25 years and has been looking to beat the books since he was 13!
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