Virginia Tech (AP No. 18, Coaches No. 19, CFB Playoff No. 22) faces Arkansas for the first time as the Hokies make their debut in the Belk Bowl at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. Tech is playing in a bowl for 24th consecutive season, the longest active streak recognized by the NCAA.
The Hokies are no strangers to Charlotte, winning the 2010 ACC Championship Game with a 44-33 win over Florida State at Bank of America Stadium (12/4/10). The Hokies have won three of their last four bowl games, including a 55-52 victory in the Independence Bowl over Tulsa that capped the storied career of Frank Beamer, who led the Hokies for 29 seasons.
Virginia Tech is seeking its first 10-win season since 2011 which would make Justin Fuente the first coach in school history to claim 10 wins in his debut campaign. Tech owns a long history of success against SEC teams with its last bowl meeting against an SEC foe resulting in a 37-14 victory vs. Tennessee in the 2009Chick-fil-A Bowl (12/31/09).
Winning versus the SEC is not new to Fuente, who guided Memphis to a 15-game winning streak that included a 37-24 win vs. No. 13 Ole Miss (10/17/15).
Tech took No. 3 Clemson to the wire, suffering a narrow 42-35 loss in the ACC Championship Game in Orlando (12/3). Arkansas has been idle since being handed a 28-24 setback at Missouri (11/25).
News and notes on the game:
The Hokies haven’t lost consecutive games under Fuente, registering a win in the contest immediately following their three losses earlier this season.
Tech has outscored its foes by a combined 455-295 margin in 2016, while Arkansas has been outscored 370-369. Tech is 3-1 in games decided by seven points or fewer while Arkansas is 4-1 in such games in 2016.
Virginia Tech has outscored its foes by a 39.9-16.3 ppg margin in its nine wins in 2016. Arkansas has been outscored by an average margin of 43.2-18.2 ppg in its five losses.
Virginia Tech is plus-6 (17 takes/11 gives) in its nine wins and minus-9 (4 takes/13 gives) in its four losses. Arkansas is minus-2 (19 takes/21 gives) on the season, going plus-5 (11 takes/6 gives) in its seven wins and minus-7 (eight takes/15 gives) in its five losses.
Virginia Tech owns a 38-3 record (.927) dating back to 1996 when forcing three or more INTs. Arkansas is 1-6 under Bret Beilema when throwing two or more INTs, including a 1-3 mark in 2016.
The only SEC West program to win a bowl game each of the last two years, Arkansas will be looking to make it three straight seasons with a postseason win for the first time in program history. The Razorbacks have won their last three bowl appearances dating back to the 2012 Cotton Bowl, which is the longest bowl win streak in Arkansas history. It will also be Arkansas’ first game against an ACC opponent since 1995 when it played North Carolina in the CarQuest Bowl.
Arkansas earned its third straight bowl appearance by putting together a 7-5 record in the regular season that included seven games against ranked teams. The Razorbacks picked up ranked wins at TCU, against Ole Miss and against SEC East champion Florida behind SEC leading rusher Rawleigh Williams III, who averaged 155 yards on the ground over those three contests.
Started in 2002 as the Continental Tire Bowl, Arkansas and Virginia Tech will play in the 15thgame in the bowl’s history. Charlotte-based Belk Department Store became the title sponsor in 2011 and the Belk Bowl became one of the SEC’s bowl games in 2014. The SEC is 2-0 since it started playing in the Belk Bowl.
— Courtesy of
Virginia Tech Athletics