Good morning, ladies and gentlemen of the Big Blue Nation, and welcome to the Tuesday Morning Quickies.
Today at noon, Kentucky takes on Virginia Tech in the Belk Bowl. This has been an unexpected season for Kentucky, with the quarterback position being decimated by injuries. As we all know, Lynn Bowden Jr. stepped into the breach and led the Wildcats to their fourth straight bowl appearance, the longest such streak since Rich Brooks was coach between 2006-09, and only the second four-year bowl streak in UK history. It seems particularly fitting that it has been exactly one decade between the two.
Kentucky’s opponent at the Charlotte event this year is Virginia Tech. Tech went 8-4 overall and 5-3 in the ACC Coastal division. Their big wins include at Miami, vs. North Carolina in 6 overtimes, and vs. #19 Wake Forest. They also played #16 Notre Dame very close in South Bend, losing by a single point.
The Commonwealth of Kentucky has a couple of significant connections to the Hokies -- Head coach Justin Fuente and outgoing associate head coach/defensive coordinator Bud Foster are both alumni of Murray State University. Bud Foster was at Murray about the same time I was at Western Kentucky (he would’ve been a freshman in my junior year).
Another surprise coaching connection is Jerry Claiborne, who coached Va. Tech between 1961 and 1970. Claiborne went on to coach the Wildcats between 1982 and 1989. The final interesting tie-in I noticed is that legendary Va. Tech coach Frank Beamer coached Murray State between 1981 and 1986. That’s a lot of Murray connections with Hokie football.
The line I’ve seen gives the Hokies 2.5 points, which makes sense as Charlotte is a little closer to Blacksburg than it is to Lexington, and the Hokies have a little better reputation as a football school, and haven’t had to completely re-tool their offense.
This is fairly nominal, though, I would personally rate this game as a pick-em. It’s a good matchup for both schools and will be a stern test no matter who you’re rooting for.
I am particularly attached to this game outcome because it is Bowden’s last game at UK, and his emotional and physical leadership has been instrumental in achieving Kentucky’s success this season.
Historically, Kentucky is 11-6-2 over the Hokies, which is a bit surprising considering Virginia Tech’s success under former head coach Frank Beamer. Under Beamer, the Hokies had an unbroken bowl appearance streak between 1993 and 2015. Va. Tech has been to a bowl every year since 1993. That’s an awesome run, and dwarfs Kentucky’s success into insignificance.
So let’s ring in the new year by upsetting another traditional ACC football power, much as we did under Rich Brooks in 2006 when we nipped Clemson in the Music City bowl.
Tweet of the Morning
You go, big guy. Lead us to victory!
- It’s happening, baby
- ”It’s the deep breath before the plunge...”
Really quiet before the storm. pic.twitter.com/5Q7zpOwRyV— Darrell Bird (@DarrellBird) December 31, 2019
- Everything you need to know about the Belk Bowl.
- Gobbler Country (Hokies) looks at the Belk Bowl.
- Terry Wilson’s rehab is on schedule. Where would we be today if... ah, no use playing that game.
- Kentucky returns only one captain in 2020, and he’s looking to dominate.
- Lynn Bowden is too motivated to worry about what comes after Kentucky. Good attitude.
- Kentucky recruit Isaiah Jackson impressive in season debut after recovering from injury.
- Nick Richards and Tyrese Maxey have received national honors for their performance against Louisville.
- Former Clemson star Deshaun Watson headlines USA Today’s best college football players of the decade.
- Five early factors to consider in the CFB Playoff championship game.
- My alma mater Western Kentucky plays in the First Responder Bowl today against Western Michigan.
Other sports news
- Karl-Anthony Towns is reportedly unhappy in Minnesota. Uh-oh.
- 12 unforgettable sports stories that kept us talking all year.