UCLA: sun bowl 2013

Instant Analysis: UCLA 42, Virginia Tech 12

December, 31, 2013
No. 17 UCLA beat Virginia Tech 42-12 on Tuesday in the Hyundai Sun Bowl. A few quick hits:

It was over when: Sensational true freshman linebacker Myles Jack of UCLA intercepted a Mark Leal pass and pranced 24 yards for a pick-six with 13:22 to play in the fourth quarter to give the Bruins a 28-10 lead. It came on the heels of 12-play, 85-yard drive that provided breathing room for UCLA and turned up the heat on Leal, the Virginia Tech backup who replaced Logan Thomas after the senior took a big hit from linebacker Jordan Zumwalt in the second quarter.

Game ball goes to: Sophomore quarterback Brett Hundley of UCLA, who rushed for touchdowns of 7 and 86 yards in the first half. Hundley then completed 6 of 6 throws for 80 yards on the Bruins’ 85-yard drive that ended early in the fourth quarter after the Hokies cut the lead to 14-10. Hundley rushed for 161 yards and two scores on 10 carries and completed 16 of 27 passes for 226 and a pair of touchdowns.

Stat of the game: 28. That’s the Bruins’ point total in a span of less than nine minutes in the fourth quarter to bust open a close contest.

Unsung hero: Zumwalt, the senior man in the middle of the UCLA defense. The rookie Jack, who also plays running back, and senior Anthony Barr get most of the publicity among a stellar group of UCLA linebackers. But Zumwalt on Tuesday made an impact as significant as any defender with 10 tackles, an interception in the fourth quarter and the big hit on Thomas.

What UCLA learned: The Bruins continue to progress under second-year coach Jim Mora, reaching 10 wins for the first time since 2005. If Hundley returns for a third season at the helm, UCLA has a potential Heisman candidate next year.

What Virginia Tech learned: The athleticism needs to improve. The Hokies, even if Thomas had remained upright, likely would have succumbed to UCLA’s speed and playmaking ability in the second half.

AdvoCare V100, Sun Bowl predictions

December, 31, 2013
Both Kevin and Ted correctly picked Oregon, but missed on Arizona State. Kevin is 79-19 on the season, and Ted is 75-23.

AdvoCare V100: Arizona vs. Boston College

Kevin Gemmell: The big storyline here is obviously the running backs – Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey and Boston College’s Andre Williams. Both were Doak Walker finalists, and Williams took home the trophy. But the real story should be B.J. Denker, who is averaging 95 yards per game on the ground with four touchdowns over the past six games. Boston College is a better team than the one that lost to USC, 35-7 back in September. But the Eagles also feasted on a lot of weaker competition. So did Arizona, but it at least has a win over a top-five team (Oregon) to its credit. I like Carey and Co. to outdistance the Eagles. Arizona 38, Boston College 28.

Ted Miller: While all the hype of about this game is about the running backs, and justifiably so, here's a guess that the ultimate difference-maker is someone we're not expecting, though Kevin's noting Denker would be my first guess. Boston College played Florida State tough and beat Virginia Tech, and Arizona's red-letter moment was a win over Oregon. This feels like a game that might go to the fourth quarter, but we like the Wildcats' chances because their offense is ultimately not one-dimensional. Arizona 35, Boston College 24.

Hyundai Sun Bowl

Kevin Gemmell: Virginia Tech doesn’t give up a lot of points -- only 17.4 per game, to be exact. They don’t score many, either (23.4). And they head into the postseason having lost three of their past five. The Bruins got healthy in a lot of different areas, and they have the offense (36.5 points per game) and the defense (24.1) to match the Hokies on both sides of the ball. As is always the case when UCLA plays, the question is whether Virginia Tech can 1) get to Brett Hundley and 2) actually get him down. No quarterback in the Pac-12, maybe the country, is as good at extending plays. That’s going to put a lot of pressure on Virginia Tech’s defense. And after last season's bowl debacle, I think the Bruins feel like they have something to prove. UCLA 31, Virginia Tech 21.

Ted Miller: It's not good that the UCLA defense will be without leading tackler Eric Kendricks, but Virginia Tech has struggled to run the ball and, forced to pass, it has yielded 2.5 sacks per game. That's not a good sign with Anthony Barr is on the opposite side of the line. Hundley and the Bruins' offense should be challenged by a good Hokies' defense, but they'll score enough to get the W. UCLA 24, Virginia Tech 20.

Hyundai Sun Bowl preview

December, 31, 2013
No. 17 UCLA (9-3) and Virginia Tech (8-4) meet on Tuesday in the Hyundai Sun Bowl. Here are a few keys:

Who to watch: Start with UCLA’s dynamic duo at linebacker, senior Anthony Barr and freshman Myles Jack. Barr benefited from turning down a chance at the NFL a year ago, developing into one of the nation’s best at his position. Jack needed no such time. He also played running back for the final four games of the year, rushing for four touchdowns as he earned the Pac-12’s offensive and defensive rookie of the year honors. For Virginia Tech, the best chance to move the football comes through the air, but talented quarterback Logan Thomas must avoid interceptions. He threw 13 this season in 12 games.

What to watch: Virginia Tech is shorthanded without its leading rusher, Trey Edmunds, who suffered a broken leg in the season finale, a 16-6 win over Virginia. The Hokies struggled to run the ball with Edmunds, so what happens without him? On defense, top cornerback Kyle Fuller is likely out with a groin injury for Tech. Fellow corner Antone Exum will sit with an ankle injury. Against a pair of freshmen in coverage, UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley could have a big day throwing to Shaquelle Evans and Devin Fuller.

Why to watch: It’s two name-brand programs in El Paso, but in what direction are these programs headed? The Bruins, under second-year coach Jim Mora, are trending up regardless of the outcome on Tuesday as they seek a 10-win season for the first time since 2005. The Hokies lost three of their final five games this season after struggling to a 7-6 finish a year ago under 27th-year coach Frank Beamer.

Prediction: UCLA 28, Virginia Tech 14. The Hokies don’t have enough firepower to get into a scoring duel with UCLA, so look for the bowl-savvy Beamer to search for a few nontraditional ways to even this matchup. But expect the Bruins and Hundley to shake free in the second half.

Bowl primer: Hyundai Sun Bowl

December, 19, 2013
We continue our look at each of the Pac-12's opponents during the bowl season.

Hyundai Sun Bowl
El Paso, Texas, Dec. 31, 11 a.m. PT, CBS
UCLA (9-3) vs. Virginia Tech (8-4)

Virginia Tech Hokies

Coach: Frank Beamer (27th season)
Record: 8-4, 5-3 ACC
Combined opponent's record: 85-61 (.582)
Common opponents: None.
Leading passer: Logan Thomas, 224 of 391 (57.3 percent) for 2,861 yards, with 16 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
Leading rusher: Trey Edmunds (injured), 166 carries, 675 yards, 10 touchdowns
Leading receiver: Willie Byrn, 49 catches, 635 yards with two touchdowns.
Leading tackler: Jack Tyler, 93 tackles.

What to know: The Hokies lost Edmunds to a broken leg in the season finale win over Virginia, so that stunts an already underwhelming rushing attack that averages only 117.8 yards on the ground per game.

They might also be without defensive back Kyle Fuller, who missed four games following groin surgery. His brother, Kendall, was the ACC defensive rookie of the year. So between him and UCLA's Myles Jack (Pac-12 defensive freshman of the year), we'll have two of the brightest young defensive players in the country squaring off on the same side of the field. (Or opposite sides, depending on how much Jack plays on offense).

The Hokies dropped three of their final five -- including a 27-24 overtime loss to Maryland. But one week earlier they beat No. 11 Miami 42-24, their second highest offensive output of the season. Of course, that was fueled by a four-touchdown effort from Edmunds, who won't be available.

Worth noting that Virginia Tech will have had almost a month to prepare for the Bruins. And that much time off usually favors the defense. Read on ...

Key matchup: Virginia Tech always poses a defensive threat. And with five players with double-digit tackles for a loss this year and six players with at least four sacks, the Hokies know how to generate havoc in the backfield. They rank eighth nationally in run defense (103.8 yards per game) and have allowed only 10 touchdowns on the ground. That will put pressure on a young UCLA offensive line -- which probably shouldn't be considered young anymore after having to grow up on the job. Keep an eye on the matchup in the trenches and how much VaTech spies Brett Hundley, one of the best quarterbacks in the country at extending plays.

Hyundai Sun Bowl

December, 8, 2013

Virginia Tech Hokies (8-4) vs. UCLA Bruins (9-3)

Dec. 31, 2:30 p.m. ET, El Paso, Texas (CBS)

Virginia Tech played the way most people expected this season: Its defense was outstanding; its offense was not. There is little doubt the Hokies fielded a championship-caliber defense throughout the course of 2013, but offensive shortcomings ended up derailing any hope for a return to the ACC title game.

[+] EnlargeBrandon Facyson
AP Photo/John BazemoreFreshman corners Brandon Facyson and Kendall Fuller (11) were keys to one of the nation's best defenses.
The same issues that plagued Virginia Tech last season ended up dooming the offense again. The Hokies could never develop a consistent running game, and nobody emerged as a go-to target among the receivers. The offensive line struggled for the majority of the season, as well. All of this put pressure on quarterback Logan Thomas to make plays.

When he made them, Virginia Tech won more often than not. The Hokies got off to a 6-1 start and climbed to No. 14 in the rankings after Thomas was particularly effective in their first three ACC games -- scoring six total touchdowns while throwing zero interceptions. But Virginia Tech proceeded to drop three of its next four games, including back-to-back downers against Duke and Boston College.

In those two losses, Thomas had eight turnovers. It is unfair to blame Thomas completely for both losses. There is plenty of blame to go around. The defense did not play particularly well against the Eagles, either, as Andre Williams ran for 166 yards and two scores.

Despite another overtime loss to Maryland at home, Virginia Tech held out hope of winning the Coastal going into the final Saturday of the regular season. But Duke would have none of that. So once again, the Hokies will not play for a championship, the first time they have failed to make it back to the ACC title game after missing the previous season.

The defense ended up ranking in the top 10 in the nation in total defense, scoring defense, rushing defense, pass efficiency defense and sacks. True freshman Kendall Fuller won ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year honors after ranking fifth nationally in interceptions (six) and leading the conference with 16 passes defended.

Fellow defensive back Brandon Facyson is a candidate to join Fuller on the freshman All-America team. Derrick Hopkins, Jack Tyler, James Gayle, Kyle Fuller and Luther Maddy were solid all year.

This puts into perspective how lopsided the performance was between the offense and defense: Of the 11 Virginia Tech players recognized on the All-ACC media teams, only two came from the offense. Both were honorable mention on offensive line. -- Andrea Adelson


With a 2-0 mark against USC and their head coach locked up for six more years, the UCLA Bruins enter the bowl season brimming with confidence.

[+] EnlargeAnthony Barr
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY SportsAnthony Barr leads the Pac-12 with 20 tackles for loss.
Quarterback Brett Hundley led the Pac-12 in completion percentage (67.8) and has eight touchdowns to just one interception over his past five games. Offensive line issues -- particularly the fact that UCLA starts three true freshmen -- have taken their toll at times and forced Hundley into scramble mode perhaps sooner than offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone would like. But the Bruins, and Hundley, have still been able to adapt.

Stricken early in the season with the death of receiver Nick Pasquale, coach Jim Mora rallied his team to five straight wins to open the year, including an emotional win at Nebraska. UCLA lost back-to-back games at Stanford and Oregon but closed out the year by winning four of its last five.

Defensively, linebacker Anthony Barr continues to be one of the most dominant players in the country. He led the Pac-12 with 20 tackles for a loss and was tied for second with 10 sacks. Complementary players such as Cassius Marsh, Eric Kendricks and Myles Jack give UCLA one of the top front sevens in college football.

As depth issues impacted the running game, the Bruins got more creative in finding ways to score. Jack took over as a dual-threat option and added seven rushing touchdowns to his résumé. Marsh has a touchdown reception, and even defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes has rushed for a score. The Bruins head into the postseason playing a very creative yet still physical style of football. -- Kevin Gemmell



B. Hundley33202420
P. Perkins16805.00
B. Hundley15392.61
J. Payton89812.30
T. Duarte33913.00