Lynn Bowden Jr. and the Kentucky Wildcats are looking to end 2019 on a high note. Bowden and the Wildcats will get that opportunity on Tuesday, as they are set to face the Virginia Tech Hokies in the Belk Bowl.
Bowden has been absolutely magnificent lately. Ever since the win over the Arkansas Razorbacks, he has been a do-it-all machine for the Wildcats. In that time period, which dates back seven games, he’s racked up 1,136 rushing yards on 138 carries, good for a mark of 8.23 yards per carry.
To say the very least, Bowden has been absolutely sensational. The Hokies may have their hands full in doing so. But, if anyone’s going to do it, VaTech may have the fortitude to do so. Despite plenty of dismay on offense, Bud Foster’s defense has been terrific at stopping the run this year. While they’ve been susceptible to giving up big plays, they rank 20th in S&P+ rushing success rate allowed. Granted, they are facing one of the most explosive teams in the nation in terms of big running plays, but if they are able to somehow limit them, then they stand a solid chance of winning this game.
But what could prove costly is VaTech’s inabilities on offense. They have not fared well in many advanced offensive statistics this year. They have done well at finishing drives, on big passing plays and in power runs. But apart from that, it’s been a struggle. Defensively, Kentucky has been a terror to deal with. The Wildcats are one of the best teams in the nation in terms of pressuring the QB and also at stopping the pass.
They are just okay at running the ball, but the Hokies haven’t been very good at running the ball in general this year. So that might be a wash. Granted, Hendon Hooker has been good at QB and he has helped shape up a turnaround since he took over. But Kentucky’s defense has flourished enough to where I think they can contain them.
VaTech had some issues keeping the likes of Bryce Perkins, Ian Book and Quentin Harris in check over the last few months. Given that Bowden is just as mobile and fierce on the ground as those three are, if not more, I think he gives VaTech some fits in this one. Perhaps even enough to give UK the win.
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Spread: Virginia Tech -2.5
Moneyline: VaTech -135 | Kentucky +115