Arkansas vs. Virginia Tech Belk Bowl prediction and game preview. Projecting who wins between the Razorbacks and Hokies in Charlotte, NC.
Arkansas vs. Virginia Tech Belk Bowl Preview
When: Thursday, Dec. 29 – 5:00 p.m. ET
Where: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC
TV Broadcast: ESPN
The Razorbacks (7-5, 3-5 SEC) are coming off of a disappointing loss on the road to Missouri, which scored 21 unanswered second-half points in a 28-24 victory. The Razorbacks had a strong first half on the ground, but they were limited in the final two quarters, as Bret Bielema and Co. finished the regular season on a sour note.
Meanwhile, the Hokies (9-4, 6-2 ACC) are coming off of a loss to Clemson in the ACC title game, as Tigers quarterback Deshaun Watson bolstered his Heisman Trophy candidacy in a 42-35 win. But it was a fantastic first season in Blacksburg for head coach Justin Fuente, who is poised to have VT be an upper-tier ACC team year in and year out.
What To Know About Arkansas
One week after the Razorbacks exploded on offense behind running back Rawleigh Williams III and his 205 rushing yards and a score in a 58-42 win over Mississippi State, Bielema’s squad dropped a rough game against Missouri. Arkansas is very difficult to contain when it is balanced on offense. Quarterback Austin Allen is capable of a big game every time he takes the field, and Bielema will always want to run it down an opponent’s throat. But stopping the run has been problematic for the Razorbacks defense. It will need to be at its best against the ACC runner-up Hokies, who possess a high-powered offense.
What to Know About Virginia Tech
One week after the Hokies used a career-high 105 rushing yards and two touchdowns from Sam Rogers to cruise to a 52-10 win over Virginia, Fuente’s squad gave a valiant effort but came up short in the program’s first appearance in the ACC title game since 2011. The Hokies scored on three straight possessions to cut what was once a 35-14 deficit to seven points, and they had the football with a chance to force overtime. Quarterback Jerod Evans drove his team to the Clemson 23, but the drive stalled when Cordrea Tankersley intercepted a fourth-and-6 pass for the Tigers. It was a strong offensive effort, as it has been for most of the season. But the VT defense could not keep up with Watson and Co. Expect a better effort from Bud Foster’s unit in this one.
Offense: Even. I may give the slight edge to the Hokies because of the dual-threat ability of Evans, but the Hogs are strong on offense when both the run and pass games are complementing each other.
Defense: Virginia Tech. Foster will have his Hokies ready for the balanced Arkansas attack.
Special Teams: Even. Both teams have fairly reliable kickers.
Coaching: Even. Fuente is a rising star, and he has been the perfect replacement for Frank Beamer at VT.
Intangibles: Even. Fuente will ensure his Hokies aren’t experiencing an ACC title game hangover, while Bielema will want to get the bad taste out of his mouth that is lingering from the loss to Mizzou.
Matchup To Watch
Evans vs. Arkansas defensive front
The Hogs have been susceptible to the run this year, which is bad news considering they will be going up against a big, strong dual-threat quarterback in Evans, who can carry would-be tacklers. Evans has recorded at least 46 yards on ten occasions in ’16.
Spread: No Spread (as of post)
Over/Under: No Line (as of post)
Arkansas vs. Virginia Tech Prediction
This should be another fun game that may get a bit overlooked. The edge goes to the Hokies defense, which just saw a great offense in Clemson up close in its last time out. Foster’s defense forces a fourth-quarter Allen interception, and the Hogs will struggle to contain Evans through the air and on the ground.
Arkansas vs. Virginia Tech Final Score Prediction: Virginia Tech 36, Arkansas 31
Campus Insiders Staff Picks
Brian Stultz: Virginia Tech
Dave Miller: Virginia Tech
Jeff Bartl: Virginia Tech
Rich Cirminiello: Virginia Tech
Robert Judin: Virginia Tech
Pete Fiutak: Arkansas