TheVTZone.com staff takes its picks at Virginia Tech and Arkansas in the Belk Bowl

It's the Belk Bowl and the Hokies are one win away from 10. Can Virginia Tech get the best of the SEC's Razorbacks and claim another bowl win? Our staff takes its picks.

Bull & Bones Brewhaus & Grill

Jason Stamm, Publisher

The Hokies have seen some good offenses this season. They tamed the Tar Heels, but succumbed to the Orange in the Carrier Dome. But Arkansas could arguably have the best of the bunch, or at least a pair of the best weapons.

Running back Rawleigh Williams and quarterback Austin Allen have put up some big numbers. They're both in the top 25 at the FBS level for yardage at their positions. 

When the offense is working, it can put up some points. Witness TCU or even Alabama as examples. The Razorbacks are one of the few teams to give the Crimson Tide issues.

But the trouble has been inconsistency. Arkansas scores 41 against TCU and 58 against Mississippi State, but just three against Auburn and 10 against LSU. The key will be somehow getting some penetration against a huge offensive line. And for Virginia Tech, it won't be easy with a banged up defensive front that will be without end Vincent Mihota.

Expect the Hawgs to have some success on offense. They'll score some points. But the key will be forcing a turnover or two. The Hokies will likely need an interception from the secondary.

Offensively, Virginia Tech can also put up some points. And that means Jérod Evans has to be smart and not make many bad throws, while the running backs will have to hold on to the ball.

The Hokies' offense is moving right now and it's hard to see that group slowing down, especially against an Arkansas defense that's been like swiss cheese often this season. The difference, though, will be some keys stops defensively. The Razorbacks will stay within striking distance, but Virginia Tech gets a big play or two late and takes this one.

Virginia Tech 41-31

Doug Bowman, senior writer

If there’s one thing coach Justin Fuente has proven this year, it’s that he has a good handle on this team. He realized his team was too surprised by their early success at Tennessee. He felt their focus against North Carolina. Given a couple weeks off, I think Fuente can manage any kind of lack of energy or focus so that the Hokies will be well-prepared for this one. In front of what should be a very pro-Hokie crowd, I think they can navigate a slow start and use the tried and true method of Evans ? Ford to win this one in a fairly high scoring affair.

Virginia Tech 43-30

Delaney Hall, staff writer

In the first of meeting of Virginia Tech and Arkansas, this will definitely be an interesting matchup. The Hokies have been pretty consistent throughout the season – making it to the ACC Championship only to have it taken over by Clemson in the final moments of the game. The Razorbacks, however, have struggled with consistency. Finishing 7-5 this season, Arkansas has something to prove on the field on Thursday.   

 

The biggest threat the Hokies will face is Williams. Just this season, he’s racked up 1,326 yards and 12 touchdowns. Most notorious for his rushing game, he averages 5.7 yards, and will definitely be a force to reckon with. The Hokies need to rely on their strong defensive line, like sophomore rover Terrell Edmunds to take care of enemy lines. Allen is also a strong force to watch out for, but has allowed 19 sacks in their five losses.

 

The Razorbacks' biggest competitor will be Evans. Known for his can-do attitude, the quarterback has shown some turnover inconsistencies this season, but his rushing game and agility make him a fair contender. This season he’s racked up an impressive 27 touchdowns and 3,309 yards but has shown inconsistencies with 28 sacks and seven interceptions. As long as Evans can take care of the ball, and not force any turnovers, the Hokies will be in good shape.

 

These quarterbacks are essentially the same – they both have a strong rushing game but have easily given up turnovers. Virginia Tech, however, is set apart because of their strong defensive line. I think the big thing that will determine the outcome is how much each of the quarterbacks are willing to protect the ball and bring the heat.

Virginia Tech 28-21

Kelly Porazzo, staff writer

The 9-4 Hokies will take on the 7-5 Razorbacks Thursday night for the Belk Bowl. Throughout the season it was clear when the momentum got going, the Hokies were executing well enough to win. With a few weeks off of regular play, I think the athletes will be hungry for a good game and an even better win.  

 

Seeing how Arkansas’ defense has played this season, I predict Virginia Tech will advance far down the field with Evans’ running game. With so many talented players on the Hokies’ offense – Sam Rogers, Bucky Hodges, Isaiah Ford, Cam Phillips, and Travon McMillian – I predict it will be a high scoring game as long as the offensive line allows for time in the pocket for Evans to make big plays. With a potentially huge turnout from Hokie Nation, I think Virginia Tech will get win No. 10 to finish out Fuente’s first year.

Virginia Tech 38-26


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