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College Football Columns Front Office Writers Joe Heisman Sports

2016 Belk Bowl Preview

The ACC and SEC match-up again in the 2016 Belk Bowl, where the Arkansas Razorbacks play the Virginia Tech Hokies.

Arkansas Razorbacks

The Razorbacks finished at 7-5 to get to a bowl game. They only had one bad loss, which came to rival Missouri in the season finale. Arkansas beat four bowl eligible teams which were: Louisiana Tech, TCU, Florida and Mississippi State.

Belk Bowl
Austin Allen (Photo courtesy: wholehogsports.com)

Austin Allen has done a great job filling in the void left by his brother Brandon at the quarterback position. Allen is a bit of a gunslinger with 23 passing touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He has 3,152 passing yards on 61% completion percentage. He has a tendency to throw multiple interceptions in games, with four games of that nature. That can’t happen if the Razorbacks want to win this game.

Three receivers and one tight end make up a good receiving core for Arkansas. Drew Morgan, Keon Hatcher and Jared Cornelius are the three receivers who have had good seasons. Morgan is the possession receiver with 61 catches on a 10.2 yards per catch average. Hatcher is the red zone threat with seven touchdowns. Cornelius does a little bit of everything and can line up in the slot. Jeremy Sprinkle is less productive, but is one of the best tight ends in the class.

Rawleigh Williams III is the lead running back for the Razorbacks. He rushed for 1,326 yards and 12 touchdowns behind a good offensive line. Devwah Whaley rushed for 601 yards and three touchdowns as the second running back on the team.

The rush defense for the Razorbacks isn’t good, allowing 209 rushing yards per game. The pass defense is above average and give up 219 yards per game.

Linebacker Brooks Ellis has stood out on the Arkansas defense with 78 total tackles. He also had seven tackles for loss, one interception and a touchdown.

Virginia Tech Hokies

The Hokies had a great first season under Justin Fuente, finishing at 9-4. The four bowl eligible teams they beat were: Boston College, North Carolina, Miami and Pittsburgh. Their only bad loss was to Syracuse.

Belk Bowl
Jerod Evans (Photo courtesy: washingtonpost.com)

Jerod Evans had a great season for the Hokies with 3,309 passing yards and 27 touchdowns. He only threw seven interceptions. Evans also led the team in rushing with 739 yards and had ten touchdowns. Evans will be the key for Arkansas to stop in this game.

Isaiah Ford, Cam Phillips and Bucky Hodges all are great targets for Evans. Ford has 1,038 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. Phillips is second on the team in receiving yardage with 868 yards. Hodges is a tight end that the Hokies like to line up wide for match-up issues because he is six feet seven inches tall. He has seven receiving touchdowns as well.

While Evans leads all rushers, Travon McMillan leads all running backs in rushing yards with 637. He has added six rushing touchdown. Fullback Sam Rogers helps out in the running game, passing game and is a really good blocker for the Hokies.

The defense is what has been so impressive for the Hokies. The run defense is solid, giving up 149 rushing yards per game. The pass defense is among the top 25 in the country and allow just 194 yards per game.

Defensive line play has been great for the Hokies, allowing their entire defense to be great.

Prediction

This game will be won in the trenches. Arkansas’ offensive line will move the Virginia Tech defense and allow the Razorbacks to move the ball effectively.

 

Arkansas Razorbacks 27 Virginia Tech Hokies 23

 

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