Camping World Bowl
Both Virginia Tech and Oklahoma State disappointed in their biggest spots this season, but someone will have to come through in the Camping World Bowl. Formerly known as the Russell Athletic Bowl, this Game in Orlando has been won by the ACC in six of the past seven years. That still doesn’t mean anything for this matchup with the Cowboys a -4.5 point favorite at 5Dimes Sportsbook.
The Pokes couldn’t step up a level in losses to TCU and Oklahoma and those combined with a late loss to Kansas State have them with a disappointing season when more was expected. They can still Scorea bunch, but the defense remains an issue for Mike Gundy’s team.
It was a similar case for Virginia Tech, from losing to Clemson and Miami, this team couldn’t win against top competition. And as the season moved along, the offense sputtered, failing to Scoremore than 24 points in its final five Games. Justin Fuente is usually a hard coach to bet against, but the Hokies could have a hard time keeping up on the scoreboard against OK State. In like opponents, VT beat WVU 31-24 in the opener and OK State beat the Mountaineers 50-39 on the road in late October.
Freshman quarterback Josh Jackson had a solid freshman season, but seemed to take a step back in the second half of the season with just three touchdowns and Four picks in the final five Games. And outside of the UNC beat down, Jackson never surpassed one touchdown in a Conference Game. Ten of his 19 touchdowns came against Delaware, ECU and ODU. The Hokies would like to run it more, but that didn’t work for them, averaging just 3.8 yards per carry with Deshawn McClease (406 yards) the lead back late in the season.
The path to success for VT is that OK State gives up more than 30 points and 268 passing yards per Game. If there was a defense that Jackson could exploit, this would be it, although the same could’ve been said for the Pittsburgh Game when VT scored 20 points. To win this Game, the Hokies will need their defense to step up in a big way. They’re allowing just 13.5 points per Game, but haven’t faced an offense like this all season with West Virginia in the opener maybe being the closest thing.
The Pokes can be stopped, but that was rare as they failed to top 30 points just once (at Texas) and failed to reach 40 points only twice. The Hokies have a good defense, but is it good enough to stop Mason Rudolph in his final collegiate Game?
Rudolph was in the Heisman conversation at a time, but losses to top teams kept him out. He still finished with the best season of his career, tossing 35 touchdowns and only nine picks on 9.96 yards per attempt. VT saw nowhere close to this level of passing attack during the regular season so that will be an issue. James Washington (1,423 yards, 12 TDs) is one of the best wide receivers in the country and he’s flanked by Marcell Ateman (1,049 yards, 8 TDs) and Jalen McCleskey (633 yards). More impressive is that the ground Game has been just as good with Justice Hill (1,347 yards, 14 TDs) averaging 5.5 yards per carry.
But at the end of the day, what’s supposed to happen rarely does in bowl Games. Oklahoma State expected to reach the Big 12 title Game this season and came up short. Motivation could be an issue with this group while that’s never been a problem for Fuente’s teams.
The Hokies are 6-1 ATS in their last seven non-Conference Games and the Cowboys have covered in their last five out of conference. OK State is also 1-4 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
Our Pick – Virginia Tech +4