Also, head over here for the fully updated bowl season calendar as it fills in, from the New Orleans Bowl through the Rose Bowl. We’ll also add picks, scores, and more to that calendar over time.
The Internet’s favorite bowl game, the Belk Bowl, gets underway Thursday afternoon from Charlotte. The matchup will feature Virginia Tech and Arkansas, according to the Virginia Daily Press.
The game began in 2002 as the Continental Tire Bowl, and was the Meineke Car Care Bowl from 2004-2010 before becoming the Belk Bowl that we know it as now. The game features a matchup between the SEC and ACC, which works out well to draw nice crowds to Charlotte, which is a reasonable drive for most schools in both conferences.
In last year’s game, Mississippi State used two separate 21-0 runs to easily get past NC State, 51-28.
Here is everything you need to know in preparation for this year's Belk Bowl:
Date and time: Thursday, Dec. 29, 5:30 p.m.
TV channel: ESPN
Location: Charlotte, N.C.
Stadium: Bank of America Stadium
Last year's score: Mississippi State 51, NC State 28
Last year's attendance: 46,423
Teams with the most all-time appearances: North Carolina, 4
Teams with the most all-time wins: NC State, Virginia, and Boston College (tie), 2
Virginia Tech (9-4, 6-2 in ACC)
The Hokies had a really good first year under head coach Justin Fuente, even though they couldn’t upset Clemson in the ACC Championship Game in Orlando.
Virginia Tech didn’t have any especially big wins, but it generally beat the teams it was supposed to, and the Hokies took strides forward from where they were at the end of Frank Beamer’s tenure. The offense overachieved a little bit, but the defense continued to be solid.
Transfer quarterback Jerod Evans had a nice year, guiding an efficient passing offense with the help of prolific receivers, Isaiah Ford and Cam Phillips. The Hokies don’t have much of a running game, but against the schedule they played, they’ve managed to make it work. The defense benefits from an excellent secondary, with a couple of ballhawks in Terrell Edmunds, Mook Reynolds, and Adonis Alexander. Coordinator Bud Foster stayed in his job after Beamer retired, and he’s helped smooth the Fuente transition considerably.
There’s nothing overtly exciting about Virginia Tech. But the Hokies have a decent offense and a strong defense, and they figure to be a tough out.
Arkansas (7-5, 3-5 in SEC)
Arkansas did a season-long Jekyll-and-Hyde impression that makes it hard to peg down, even still, exactly the caliber of team the Razorbacks are. They whooped SEC East champion Florida at one point, and their offense did better than just about everyone else in a loss to Alabama. Junior quarterback Austin Allen established himself as a building block, as did sophomore running back Rawleigh Williams. There’s a good deal to like here.
But the Hogs also took some downright ugly losses, including massive blowouts against Auburn and LSU that saw them allow a combined 1,179 yards of offense, the vast majority on the ground. The run defense is flatly horrific, and maybe the worst in the country. It’s had a few good moments but been on the wrong side of many more, and it never got fixed.
If nothing else, Arkansas is interesting. The Hogs aren’t amazing on offense, and their defense is flawed at best. But they’ve got a few fun players, and if you watch them play, you’ll have a good chance of wanting to talk about it (either positively or negatively) afterward. You won’t snooze through it; that much is for sure.