2013 Hyundai Sun - UCLA 42, Virginia Tech 12
UCLA 42, Virginia Tech 12
Basically … Brett Hundley ran for a seven-yard scores early less than two minutes into the game, and Virginia Tech came back on a 74-yard drive culminating in a one-yard J.C. Coleman touchdown run. And then it was all Hundley, and it was all about the UCLA defense that held the Hokies to just three points the rest of the way on a 22-yard Michael Branthover field goal. Hundley took off for an 86-yard touchdown dash in the second quarter and hit Thomas Duarte for an eight-yard touchdown and Shaquelle Evans for a 59-yard touchdown in the fourth. The Bruin D did its part with two picks of Virginia Tech backup Mark Leal, with Myles Jack taking a desperation throw 24 yards for a score.
- Penalties: Virginia Tech 13 for 104 yards – UCLA 8 for 74 yards.
- UCLA QB Brett Hundley completed 16-of-27 passes for 226 yards and two scores, and he ran ten times for 161 yards and two touchdowns.
- Before getting hurt, Virginia Tech QB Logan Thomas completed 3-of-11 passes for 46 yards and ran three times for a team-leading 50 yards.
- Virginia Tech P A.J. Hughes punted nine times averaging 41 yards per kick putting five inside the 20.
- UCLA P Sean Covington averaged 43.5 yards per punt on his six kicks, putting four inside the 20.
UCLA (9-3) vs. Virginia Tech (8-4) Dec. 31, 2:00, ESPN
Here's The Deal … UCLA and Virginia Tech have never met, and quite frankly, they don't know each other particularly well either. However, they're about to get a crash course in one another in El Paso on New Year's Eve.
The Bruins had visions of a different postseason excursion, preferably one that kept them close to home. Arizona State, though, got in the way, winning in Pasadena on Nov. 23 to secure the Pac-12's South Division. In reality, UCLA wasn't quite ready for the next step in its evolution under Jim Mora, losing to Stanford and Oregon as well as the Sun Devils. Still, there's no denying that Mora has a good thing going in Westwood, building from the bottom up through crackerjack coaching and recruiting. A Sun Bowl victory would give the Bruins 10 wins in a season for the first time since 2005.
On a macro level, Virginia Tech is traveling in the opposite directions as UCLA these days. The program has become stale under Frank Beamer, going 15-12 since the end of 2011. The Hokies' rut was on full display again this fall. The offense required a defibrillator, and even when the team was surviving, it wasn't a pretty sight. After seemingly bouncing back from an opening day loss to Alabama with six straight wins, Tech dropped games with Duke, Boston College and Maryland to fall out of the ACC race. Beamer and his kids can exhale until the spring with an upset of a ranked opponent.
Players to Watch: Things didn't go as planned in 2013 for Virginia Tech QB Logan Thomas. The 6-6, 254-pound enigma, with the tantalizing potential, was every bit as erratic as a passer as he was a year earlier. Thomas has thrown 16 touchdown passes and 13 picks, with a lack of accuracy and touch typifying his problems. He's not going to change minds overnight, regardless of how things go in El Paso. However, if he can display progress and even modest growth against quality defenders, such as LB Anthony Barr, it could serve as a catapult into the pre-draft process.
Thomas' counterpart on the Bruins is Brett Hundley, the gifted redshirt sophomore who'll decide shortly after the game whether or not to return to school in 2014. He's a big-time talent, with a great future on Sundays, but he showed his age at times during the season. Hundley can hurt the Hokies with his strong arm or his legs, rushing for 587 yards and nine touchdowns. But, will he be protected? UCLA has had issues all season with pass protection, and Virginia Tech ranks No. 9 nationally in sacks.
Bud Foster's Hokie D deserved a better fate this fall. Tech did all it could to shut down opponents in the regular season, allowing just 17 points per game. And forget about throwing on the secondary, which has nearly twice as many interceptions as touchdown passes yielded. For Foster, everything begins with a D-line that has consistently controlled the line of scrimmage. The group gets off the snap in a flash, generating heat with James Gayle and J.R. Collins on the outside and Derrick Hopkins and Luther Maddy from the interior. UCLA will have its hands full trying to contain Tech's front four.
No bowl game will showcase more first-year superstars than the Sun Bowl. Virginia Tech and UCLA both feature precocious Freshman All-Americans on defense, rookies who did not play like rookies in 2013. In the front seven, the Bruins boast Eddie Vanderdoes and LB Myles Jack, while the Hokie secondary includes all-star corners Kendall Fuller and Brandon Facyson, who have 11 picks between them. Jack, the Pac-12 Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year, erupted into household name status after moonlighting as a running back in November when the team's depth thinned.
UCLA will win if … the offensive line doesn't cave in.
The Bruins can win games in myriad ways, but Hundley has to be a part of the equation. And for Hundley to play to his potential, he has to be given some time to operate. UCLA is young and hurting up front, coming off a regular season in which it allowed 34 sacks. Futility in pass protection is a major worry with Virginia Tech next on the schedule. When the Bruins lost to ASU, the Sun Devils attacked Hundley in waves, getting to him nine times. Any resemblance to that type of performance is going to squash the ability of the UCLA backs and receivers to pick up chunk yards.
Virginia Tech will win if … Thomas delivers one of his best games of the season.
The Hokies can survive low-scoring games against the likes of East Carolina, Pitt and Virginia, but that formula won't cut it against one of the top dozen or so programs in America. In games that the quarterback threw more touchdowns than picks, Virginia Tech went 5-1. Yeah, Thomas will have to be special in El Paso for the Hokies to win, because the team has no one else who can elevate the attack. RB Trey Edmunds and receivers Joshua Stanford, Willie Byrn and Demitri Knowles will pop off the occasional big play, but they're not the kinds of players who are going to take flight on a solo mission.
What Will Happen: New month, same frustrating formula for Virginia Tech.
The Hokies will get only so far on defense alone, as the regular season advertised. Oh, they'll hang around for a while, especially in the trenches, but at some point UCLA will break through to put the game out of reach. Although Hundley won't tee off, he'll do just enough to earn his team that coveted tenth victory of the year. Thomas, on the other hand, will continue to labor in his search for consistency, committing a couple of costly turnovers that put a hard cap on promising drives.
Prediction: UCLA 31 … Virginia Tech 16
Line: UCLA -7 o/u: 47
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