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Sun Bowl

Pick 

Virginia Tech

vs.

UCLA

12/31/13

If both of these teams come to play, we will have ourselves a fun game. Although with Virginia Tech, it's never really certain what team will show up. Because of that, UCLA is a -7 point favorite at sportsbook.com in the Hyundai Sun Bowl.

The betting trends at sportsbook.com also show us that 66% of the wagers taken on this game have come in on UCLA while 78% are on the under.

Despite having one of the best defenses in the country according to the numbers, the Hokies haven't been kind to bettors with just a 4-7-1 ATS mark this season. UCLA has been better at 8-4 ATS for the year, but just 3-3 in its last six.

Midway through the season, Virginia Tech was ranked No. 14 and only had one loss to Alabama. Its defense was beating up opponents and a lot of people believed the Hokies to be a sleeper in the BCS due to their defense. That quickly fell apart as they lost three of their next five games to finish 8-4. Their best win was against then-ranked No. 11 Miami (FL) 42-24.

UCLA finished with a solid 9-3 record and didn't really disappoint anyone. You can't complain about the two losses at Stanford and Oregon, and the loss to Arizona State was no worse. The Bruins still picked up quality wins against Nebraska, Washington and at USC to close the season.

The downfall for Virginia Tech comes on the offensive end where quarterback Logan Thomas still struggles with accuracy issues. He threw four INTs against Duke, but then went for 366 yards and two TDs against the Hurricanes a couple weeks later. What version of Thomas will show up in the bowl game? He uses three receivers equally with them all having at least 600 receiving yards. Thomas' 16 TDs and 13 INTs for the year don't look great, but he is a threat on the ground as well with 295 yards and four more TDs. Starting RB Trey Edmunds is hurt so VT will lean on J.C. Coleman (262 yards, zero TDs) in the rushing game, which could be troublesome.

UCLA doesn't have as good of defense, but that doesn't mean Thomas is going to have an easy time. It should be a battle on both sides of the ball.

The Bruins are run by Brett Hundley on the offensive end who has 31 total TDs and nine INTs on the year. Due to injuries to running backs, Hundley also leads the team in rushing with 587 yards. Hundley is at his best in play-action passing, but one of his downfalls is the amount of times he gets sacked. Since the beginning of last season, Hundley has been sacked 85 times, 18 more than any another player. Jordon James is healthy again and he'll probably get the most carries, but expect Myles Jack to come in on short yardage plays. The Hokies will have some problems in the secondary trying to defend Shaq Evans (eight TDs) and Devin Fuller (four TDs), both of whom can beat defenders.

Most bettors are on UCLA assuming its offense shouldn't have too many problems moving the ball, and also expecting Logan Thomas to struggle. However, the Hokies have only lost one game by double-digits all season (Alabama). Granted, the competition in the ACC may not be the same quality as UCLA. If the Bruins can reach 30-plus points as they have in five straight, it will be tough for VT to keep up.

The Hokies are 3-1-1 ATS in their last five bowl games and 1-4-1 ATS in their last six neutral site games. The Bruins are 6-1 ATS in their last seven non-conference games and will be looking for their first 10-win season since 2005.

Just an opinion, but have to strongly consider backing UCLA in this one. The lack of a productive offense for the Hokies is likely to be the difference in this one. Both teams can play defense but it's UCLA that has the offense. I'd look to the 35-7 UCLA win over USC as an example of what could happen here. The Tech defense is a good one, but it's doubtful they'll contain one of the bettr offenses in college football for 60 minutes and equally as doubtful they'll be able to muster any kind of offense. UCLA -7 or less

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