Sun Bowl: Preview, Predictions, TV info

By Chip Patterson | College Football/Basketball Writer

What: Hyundai Sun Bowl

Who: Virginia Tech (8-4, 5-3 ACC) vs. UCLA (9-3, 6-3 Pac-12)

When: Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2 p.m. ET (CBS)

Where: Sun Bowl Stadium (50,526), El Paso, Tex.

Opening Line: UCLA -7.5

What matters: New Years Eve in El Paso might not be on the top of your bucket list, but this game has provided plenty of entertainment in recent years. UCLA finished the regular season with a second-straight victory against USC and looks to record its first 10-win season since 2005. Virginia Tech was led by an experienced and dominant defense most of the season, but turnovers and injuries left the Hokies one win short of claiming a division title.

Who matters: Freshman Myles Jack was the 2013 Pac-12 Offensive and Defensive Freshman of the Year, starting 11 of 12 games at linebacker and averaging 7.2 yards per carry and scoring seven touchdowns as a running back in the Bruins' final four games. Brett Hundley and Logan Thomas will be under close watch in this game, with the former considering early entry to the NFL Draft and the latter looking to improve his stock after an inconsistent senior year under first-year offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler.

Matchup question: If Virginia Tech's offense is struggling, the Hokies will once again fall back on one of the nation's best defensive units. With veterans like James Gayle, Derrick Hopkins and Jack Tyler leading the way, the Hokies defense ranks No. 4 nationally in yards per play allowed (4.34) and No. 12 in tackles for loss (7.5 per game). UCLA's offensive line is much younger and less experienced than Virginia Tech's defensive front, giving the Hokies a much-needed advantage in this matchup.

Prediction: UCLA's three losses this season have all come against opponents that were successful in applying pressure to Hundley and keeping the Bruins offense out of rhythm. Virginia Tech has the personnel to do the same, but the Hokies will need to find some magic in an offense that finished the year ranked No. 99 nationally in yards per play in order to win. UCLA 23, Virginia Tech 13

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