Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#253 Kentucky vs.
#254 Virginia Tech
Tuesday, December 31, 2019 at 12:00pm EST
Written by Scott Reichel

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#253 University of Kentucky
#254 Virginia Tech
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College Football Bowl Game Season continues with the Belk Bowl as Kentucky travels to Bank of America Stadium to take on Virginia Tech on Tuesday, Dec. 31 at 12:00 P.M. This will be the 20th meeting between these two teams and the first meeting since 1987 when the Wildcats beat the Hokies at home by the score of 14-7.

Kentucky Hopes Its Ground Game Carries It To A Victory

The Kentucky Wildcats have looked like a decent team in the SEC throughout the season as Kentucky enters this bowl game with a 7-5 record. However, the journey to qualify for any bowl game was not easy as Kentucky needed to win two of its last three games just to even receive the opportunity to continue playing after the regular season concluded. Kentucky managed to win each of its last three games of the regular season by at least 24 points as it managed to finish the regular season with seven wins. However, a large reason why the Wildcats finished in bowl game contention had to do with its pretty weak schedule. Entering this game, Kentucky has yet to beat a team that finished the regular season with at least eight wins in the regular season. Now, Kentucky will have a chance to change that narrative against Virginia Tech in this bowl game.

Leading the Wildcats on offense is junior wide receiver Lynn Bowden Jr.who has been put in a very unique situation this season. After catching 30 passes for 348 receiving yards through the early part of the season, Bowden Jr. was surprisingly inserted into the starting quarterback spot as Kentucky reinvented its offense to focus more on a unique rushing attack. Since the transition, he has thrown for 330 passing yards and two passing touchdowns while also throwing two interceptions. In addition, he has 1,235 rushing yards and 11 rushing touchdowns so he has been extremely successful in this offensive scheme.

Kentucky's defense has been a very solid unit so far this season. The Wildcats are allowing 18.4 points per game which ranks 12th in the nation. In addition, the Wildcats are allowing 324.3 yards per game which ranks 20th in the nation. Kentucky's defense has also been mediocre at stopping the run as it is allowing 151.6 rushing yards per game which ranks 61st in the nation.

Virginia Tech Looks For Another Belk Bowl Victory

Virginia Tech enters this game with a solid 8-4 record as it has won six of its last eight games. However, the Hokies enter this game on a bit of a sad note as they lost the regular season finale to Virginia by the score of 39-30. Now, Virginia Tech will look to get back to its winning ways with a victory in the Belk Bowl on Tuesday. Luckily, this will not be the first appearance that this program has made in this bowl game. In 2016, Virginia Tech managed to beat Arkansas in the Belk Bowl by a score of 35-24. A handful of current seniors on the roster were around for that game and they will now be looking to get another victory in Bank of America Stadium in their last game with the program.

Virginia Tech's offense is led by sophomore quarterback Hendon Hooker who has been solid this season. He has 1,445 passing yards along with 11 passing touchdowns while only throwing two interceptions. In addition, Hooker has also been efficient on the ground as he has 306 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns. Hooker's numbers are also more impressive when one realizes that he did not start the season as the starting quarterback and that he has provided a massive spark to the offense since he was inserted.

Virginia Tech's defense has been above average so far this season. The Hokies are allowing 23.7 points per game which ranks 44th in the nation. In addition, the Hokies are allowing 359.9 yards per game which ranks 42nd in the nation. Virginia Tech's defense has also been pretty good on third down as opponents have only converted 36.5% of the time which ranks 42nd out of all FBS teams.

Best Bets for this Game

Full-Game Side Bet

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Kentucky is using a wide receiver as its quarterback so it does not have the ability to move the ball whatsoever through the air which should be a serious issue in this game. Virginia Tech has several weeks to figure out how to stop Kentucky's rushing attack and I am afraid that Kentucky will be unable to make any adjustments since it is completely one dimensional on offense. At the same time, Virginia Tech is a very balanced team offensively so I think that it should be able to generate more big plays offensively. Give me the favorite as a result.

Prediction: Virginia Tech -2.5

Full-Game Total Pick

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Both teams have pretty underrated defenses and have struggled moving the ball through the air so I think that this game should be more low scoring than oddsmakers anticipate. Both teams are allowing less than 23.8 points per game and they love to win the time of possession battle by moving the chains and eating up valuable time on the clock so I think that this game should end somewhere in the realm of 24-2o. As a result, I have to take the under.

Prediction: Under 48

Half-Time Side Pick

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Virginia Tech has been an underrated team this season and I think that it will come into this game looking to make a statement early on in this bowl game. Virginia Tech has had a lot of time to reflect on its tough loss to Virginia in the regular season finale so I think that it will be determined to bounce back and to finish the season on a high note by getting out to an early lead in the first half of this bowl game. Plus, Kentucky's offense is not built to overcome deficits so I think that the Hokies should be able to get themselves a three-point lead at the half. Give me the favorite.

Prediction: Virginia Tech 1H
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Written By Scott Reichel

Scott Reichel is a University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate with an insane passion for sports. His commitment to endlessly researching statistics helps separate him from other handicappers with regard to MLB, NBA, NCAAB, NCAAF, NHL and NFL coverage. Scott also shares his passion for sports on StatSalt's YouTube page where he does a daily show called Scott's Selections.