Kentucky vs. Virginia Tech Odds, Betting Pick, Prediction, Spread: Can Hokies Stop Bowden in Belk Bowl?

Kentucky vs. Virginia Tech Odds, Betting Pick, Prediction, Spread: Can Hokies Stop Bowden in Belk Bowl? article feature image

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Kentucky QB Lynn Bowden

  • Virginia Tech is a 2.5-point favorite over Kentucky in the 2019 Belk Bowl, with the total at 46.5.
  • This is a goodbye game for a lot of reasons, including Belk itself, which will end its sponsorship of the game after this year.
  • See our picks for the 2019 Belk Bowl below.

Kentucky vs. Virginia Tech Odds, Pick

  • Odds: Virginia Tech -2.5
  • Over/Under: 46
  • Time: 12 p.m. ET
  • TV: ESPN
  • Location: Charlotte, N.C.

The Belk Bowl is a goodbye game for everyone.

Kentucky quarterback and do-it-all offensive weapon Lynn Bowden has declared for the NFL Draft.

Longtime Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster will retire after Tuesday’s game.

And Belk will no longer sponsor this game after this year.

Who has the edge in the 2019 edition? Let’s dive in.

Odds as of Monday night and via PointsBet, where Action Network users can access an exclusive promotion to get a 200% deposit match (deposit $50, bet with $150). No strings attached. No rollover required.

Can Anyone Stop Lynn Bowden?

The biggest question is if the Virginia Tech defense can stop Bowden’s one-man show. He converted from wide receiver and UK began running an option-offense of sorts.

Kentucky thrives off getting the ball in Bowden’s hands, and the Wildcats rank No. 8 in the nation in run rate. They had just two passing attempts in a season finale against Louisville and just seven in a previous loss to Tennessee.

But the Hokies may be up to the task of limiting Bowden.

Virginia Tech has a top 20 rushing success rate on defense, aided by a top 20 rank in opportunity and stuff rate.

Georgia limited Bowden Jr to under 100 rushing yards and less than six yards per carry. The Bulldogs carried a top 10 ranking in all advanced defensive rush statistics, much like Virginia Tech on the front seven.

It is imperative that Virginia Tech get Kentucky in passing downs where the Wildcats success rate falls to 101st.

On the other side, Hendon Hooker has been an offensive savior for Virginia Tech, throwing 11 touchdowns to two interceptions since taking over as starting quarterback.

The sophomore leads one of the youngest rosters in the nation with a pass explosiveness rank in the top 10. Virginia Tech is top 40 in passing play over 30 yards, an impressive mark considering the Hokies are 115th in passing attempts.

Since taking over at quarterback on Oct. 5 against Miami, Hooker has thrown a 50-plus yard pass in five of seven games. Look for this long yardage situations, as Kentucky ranks 97th in opponent passing downs explosiveness. — Collin Wilson

Collin’s Pick: Virginia Tech -3, Over 46

Stuckey: Why I Like the Under

First off, we have two teams that play relatively slow. Kentucky, which now features a one dimensional rushing attack since Bowden moved from wide receiver to quarterback, ranks 124th in seconds per play as you’d expect for their new offensive profile.

Bowden, the starting quarterback, is actually the team’s leading rusher and receiver but not the leading passer on the year. Virginia Tech also ranks outside the top 90 in that same category, so the clock should be moving.

In regards to the matchup, this is defensive coordinator Bud Foster’s last hurrah after a legendary run in Blacksburg. I expect his defense to come out with their hair on fire for his last dance.

They should be a very prepared group ready to stop a completely one dimensional Kentucky offensive attack. The Cats can run it as well as anybody (6.4 yards per carry is tied for tops in nation) with Bowden leading the charge.

Foster’s blitz and man heavy defenses do historically give up a ton of explosive plays through the air and on the ground, but he should have a more tailored game plan solely focused on slowing down Bowden. There really isn’t much worry about Kentucky airing it out. And the Hokies defense did rank in the top 20 in rushing success rate while only allowing 3.7 yards per carry (31st nationally).

On the other side of the ball, Virginia Tech’s offense has been much better since Hooker took over at quarterback. However, this is still a unit that struggles to move the ball on the ground, averaging only 3.9 yards per carry (92nd). A lot of those problems start up front with a very vulnerable offensive line that ranks 107th in Line Yards.

Lee Luther Jr.-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Keshawn King (35), Christian Darrisaw (77).

And once Virginia Tech gets in passing situations, it might not have as much success as it did against weaker ACC pass defenses at the end of the season.

The Wildcats excel at getting after the quarterback (10th in sack rate), which spells trouble against an offensive line that also doesn’t pass protect very well (109th in sack rate).

The strength of the team is the Kentucky secondary, which does an excellent job at preventing explosive plays (18th) which is what the Virginia Tech offense with Hooker relies on. You can attack Kentucky’s linebackers a little bit on the ground but as I mentioned before, that’s not Virginia Tech’s game.

VT has also started using a lot of gimmicky misdirection since Hooker took over in order to hide some of the offensive line issues. Kentucky’s defensive staff will be more than prepared with plenty of tape on the offense with Hooker at the helm with plenty of time to prepare and scheme.

Bottom line, this is a good matchup for the Kentucky defense and I think Foster will have his troops ready to stop a one dimensional UK offense that really benefited from a ton of sloppy weather in seemingly every game in the second half of the season. Plus, the pace should be conducive for an under.

Additionally, both teams have excellent punters as Kentucky’s Max Duffy won the Ray Guy Award and VT’s Oscar Bradburn was a semifinalist. Both can boom the ball and are more than capable of flipping the field. Elite punters are an under bettor’s best friend and we have two really good ones here.

I hit this under and also sprinkled some on the first half under.

Buyer beware: this is the last Belk Bowl which has haunted me for years after the , so I expect this bowl to send me out with maximum pain. That would mean this game is destined for overtime. — Stuckey

Stuckey’s Pick: Full game under 46, 1H Under 23

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