When: Thursday, December 29, 2016
Where: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, N.C.
Time: 5:30 p.m. ET
Live Stream: WatchESPN, WatchESPN apps
Spread: The Hokies are presently seven-point favorites.
Records ATS: Virginia Tech 7-6 | Arkansas 5-7
Inside the Numbers (via Football Study Hall)
|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)|
Players to Watch
Virginia Tech: Isaiah Ford & Bucky Hodges
The Hokies have arguably the top group of wide receivers in all of college football. Ford, a junior, is already the school’s all-time leading receiver in numerous categories. He’s dangerous in the short game and can get deep, too. He catches everything and is an outstanding route runner.
Hodges, a former tight end, beats the opposition with size and speed. At 6’7”, 245 pounds, Hodges is a monster that lines up all over the line of scrimmage. He will line up on the outside, in the slot or occasionally still at tight end. Hodges also has 4.4 speed. For as big as he is, he’s still probably Virginia Tech’s best deep threat.
Tech’s No. 3 receiver, Cam Phillips, is pretty good, too.
Arkansas: Rawleigh Williams III
If the Razorbacks are going to win this game, they need a big game from their sophomore running back. Williams led the SEC in rushing in 2016 and the Arkansas offense is much better when Williams is getting the football. Quarterback Austin Allen can win games with his arm, but VT’s defense will throw crazy blitz packages at him. The Hokies have proven to be susceptible to strong running games this season.
The Razorbacks must get Williams 20-25 touches. And mix in some Devwah Whaley on occasion as well.
So, what happens?
Just a simple look at the numbers and Virginia Tech looks like the far superior team. Arkansas struggles on defense, while the Hokies are among the better units in the nation. However, VT’s defense has struggled at times. Athletic quarterbacks can especially give the Hokies trouble. Fortunately for Virginia Tech, Allen isn’t going to beat a lot of teams with his feet.
This game will come down to whether Arkansas can stop VT’s passing game. Can the Razorbacks match up on the outside with Tech’s receivers? This will determine the game.
Expect Ford and Hodges to have big games and Virginia Tech quarterback Jerod Evans will lead the Hokies in rushing. It will be enough to lift Tech to a win, despite a late charge from the Razorbacks.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 31, Arkansas 24