The No. 22 Virginia Tech Hokies look to finish the season strong on Thursday as they face the Arkansas Razorbacks of the vaunted SEC in the Belk Bowl. Despite its relative proximity to Blacksburg, this is Tech’s first appearance in the Belk Bowl, formerly known as the Continental Tire Bowl and Meineke Car Care Bowl.
The Hokies are balanced on both sides of the ball. They do struggle to run the ball consistently outside of quarterback Jerod Evans. Virginia Tech does most of its damage through the air as the Hokies are ranked No. 12 in the nation in pass success rate, according to numbers compiled by Football Study Hall.
Belk Bowl: Virginia Tech vs. Arkansas
|S&P+ Offense||31.5 (50th)||33.9 (40th)|
|S&P+ Defense||21.2 (20th)||30.6 (76th)|
|Rushing S&P+ Offense||95.7 (93rd)||105.2 (57th)|
|Rushing S&P+ Defense||103.6 (45th)||87.2 (115th)|
|Rush Success Rate Offense||41.3 (91st)||41.0 (96th)|
|Rush Success Rate Defense||40.6 (41st)||44.9 (83rd)|
|Passing S&P+ Offense||110.1 (45th)||118.7 (23rd)|
|Passing S&P+ Defense||124.8 (11th)||94.9 (83rd)|
|Pass Success Rate Offense||48.6 (12th)||45.5 (23rd)|
|Pass Success Rate Defense||34.4 (13th)||43.7 (93rd)|
The big question for the Hokies is can they stop Arkansas RB Rawleigh Williams III? Williams led the SEC in rushing and is extremely tough to bring down. Normally a solid tackling team, the Hokies had issues bringing opposing runners down in certain games this season.
This game will likely be determined with VT’s offense versus the Razorbacks’ defense. The Hokies, with Isaiah Ford, Bucky Hodges and Cam Phillips, are a tough passing offense to defend. Arkansas has struggled at times, defensively, in 2016.
Remember when Auburn defeated Arkansas 56-3? The Razorbacks allowed over 500 yards rushing to the Tigers. Evans and the offense can move the ball through the air, meaning running back Travon McMillian could be in store for a big day. McMillian has battled consistency all season, but he is capable of big games.
Can the Hokies play a consistent game from start to finish?
A 10-win season for Justin Fuente in his debut campaign would be huge for Virginia Tech. With national signing day right around the corner, the Hokies have a lot to sell to potential recruits. A bowl victory and 10 wins makes it easier for Fuente to show potential Hokies the program is back and headed in the right direction.