The No.17 UCLA Bruins are set to face the Virginia Tech Hokies in the 2013 Sun Bowl on New Year’s Eve in El Paso, in a matchup of two programs that got their 2013 seasons off to a hot start, but later cooled down.
The Bruins are looking to win 10 games in a season for the first time since 2005, while the Hokies will be playing in their 21st consecutive bowl game.
The Bruins enter the contest favored by more than a touchdown. They had one more win in the regular season, and played a tougher schedule. Five of UCLA's 12 games were against ranked opponents, while Virginia Tech played just two ranked teams this year.
Despite having the more successful season, the Bruins have a tough matchup in the Hokies. The final outcome of the Bruins’ games often depends on the play of quarterback Brett Hundley, and the Hokies might have the recipe to stop him. Their 37 sacks were good for first in the ACC. They also ranked in the top 10 in all of college football in passing yards, rushing yards and points allowed.
The offensive line of UCLA hasn’t always done a good job of protecting Hundley, who struggles when he doesn’t get enough time in the pocket. He was sacked nine times in a loss to Arizona State, which saw hime run for a season-low five rushing yards. Hundley is the team’s leading rusher, and two of UCLA’s three defeats have come when he’s rushed for less than 30 yards.
Head coach Jim Mora is well aware of the threat that Virginia Tech brings. All of the Hokies’ losses came to bowl teams, and they picked up a marquee win against Miami in early November.
"They play great special teams, they play outstanding defense. That's what they do," Mora said. "They play hard. They play with discipline. You don't see technique errors. You don't see missed assignments. You see a bunch of guys who know what they're supposed to do with a lot of certainty, and they do it fast and they do it with bad intentions."
Player To Watch: Brett Hundley
Time: 2:00 p.m. Tuesday
Place: Sun Bowl
Online Stream: CBS Sports
Betting Odds: UCLA by 7.5
Prediction: Virginia Tech over UCLA, 24-23