Arkansas vs Virginia Tech Free Belk Bowl Spread Pick, 12-29-2016
Arkansas Razorbacks (7-5 SU, 5-7 ATS) vs Virginia Tech Hokies (9-4 SU, 7-6 ATS)
NCAAF: Thursday December 29th, 5:30pm EST
Handicapper Stats: Last 30 (21 Wins – 8 Losses) 72%
Unit Gain/Loss: +2022 Units
The 2016 Belk Bowl in Charlotte, NC features another matchup between the SEC and ACC. This matchup pits the Arkansas Razorbacks vs the Virginia Tech Hokies. Arkansas was up and down all season and ended on a sour note losing to Missouri in their final game of the regular season. The Hokies won the ACC Coastal Division but fell to Clemson in the ACC Championship, 42-35.
Arkansas showed promise heading into the 2016 season but their youth and inexperience played a role in the inconsistent play we saw from this team throughout the season. The Razorbacks beat TCU, Florida and Ole Miss when all three teams were ranked in the top 15 in the country. They were also man handled by #1 Alabama, #10 Texas A&M, #21 Auburn and #24 LSU, with each of those losses coming by double digits.
The Hogs averaged 30.8 PPG in 2016 but their defense was not able to keep them in games and allowed, on average, 30.8 PPG. Junior QB Austin Allen lead Arkansas with 3,152 passing yards and 23 touchdowns to 12 interceptions.
While Austin Allen can sling the ball, the Hokies defense will be keyed in on RB Rawleigh Williams who had a huge breakout season, rushing for 1,326 yards and 12 touchdowns after recovering from last year’s neck injury. In the seven Arkansas wins, Williams averaged 145 yards on the ground. In the five Razorbacks losses, he ran for just 63 yards per game. Virginia Tech is 42nd in rushing defense and Williams will have the Hokies’ full attention.
Virginia Tech gave Clemson all they could handle in the ACC Championship game but they simply couldn’t keep pace with the Tigers offense. QB Jerrod Evans had a solid season throwing for 3,309 yards with 27 touchdown passes and seven interceptions, while also leading the team with 759 rushing yards and 10 scores. Evans will be the man that the Arkansas defense must spy on.
The Hokies defense has been solid in 2016 allowing just 342 yards of total offense per game which ranked them 19th in the country. In addition, they allowed just 22.4 PPG which ranked them 28th in college football.
Historically the Hokies have not faired well vs the SEC and is just 1-5 ATS L6 vs the Southeastern Conference and they are also just 3-7-1 ATS in their last 11 neutral site games. One positive is Virginia Tech is 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games following a straight up loss and 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games after allowing more than 40 points in their previous game.
The biggest mystery surrounding this game is which Arkansas team will show up? Arkansas wasn’t great defensively while Virginia Tech was consistent all season. The X-factor is Jerrod Evans who can beat you with his arms or legs and he will be very difficult to contain for a mediocre Arkansas defense.
I find it difficult to back the Razorbacks with their inconsistent play which is why I recommend taking the Hokies -6.5 and feel they get the job done.