Belk Bowl: Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Virginia Tech Hokies

Belk Bowl: Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Virginia Tech Hokies

Date: Dec. 29, 5:30 p.m. ET on ESPN

Location: Bank of America Stadium | Charlotte, North Carolina

Arkansas Razorbacks

Best moment: It came early, in Week 2, when the Razorbacks went on the road to beat then-No. 15 TCU 41-38 in double overtime. The Razorbacks led 20-7, fell behind 28-20, pulled off a trick play for two points to tie the game, blocked a field goal attempt to force overtime and came out with the win. It was also an arrival of sorts for quarterback Austin Allen.

Lowest moment: Without question, it was a 56-3 loss at Auburn. The Tigers ran over the Razorbacks to the tune of 543 rushing yards, an SEC regular-season record. The defense was overmatched from start to finish, Allen took a beating and it was a flat-out embarrassing loss for the Hogs.

Key player: Allen had a strong first season as the starting quarterback, finishing second in the SEC in passing yards (3,152) and touchdown passes (23), but his interception total (12) was tied for the league lead with Tennessee’s Josh Dobbs. Allen also showed his toughness, playing well despite being the most-sacked quarterback in the SEC (28).

Motivation level: Finishing the regular season with losses in two of their last three games, including a 28-24 loss to Missouri when the Razorbacks led 24-7, left the team with a bad taste in its mouth. After starting 5-2 and showing some promise through half the season, a 7-5 finish is not what Arkansas was looking for. The chance to finish with eight wins for a second consecutive season should provide at least some motivation. -- Sam Khan Jr.

Virginia Tech Hokies

Best moment: The North Carolina win put Virginia Tech in the driver’s seat, but the Hokies’ comeback win at Notre Dame provided the necessary late-season momentum heading into rivalry and then championship weekends. They trailed 17-0 early and by 10 entering the fourth quarter, but a resilient group left South Bend with a win.

Lowest moment: The week before the Notre Dame game, the Hokies had a chance to clinch the Coastal Division with a win at home against Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets were missing several starters, but the Hokies came out flat. They lost as heavy favorites and had to wait two weeks to seal the division.

Key player: Woody Baron. Jerod Evans was the missing piece the offense needed, but the Hokies needed to emerge as one of the better defenses again too, and defensive tackle Baron led the charge on the defensive line. His 17.5 tackles for loss ranks fifth in the ACC.

Motivation level: High. An opportunity to reach 10 wins for the first time since 2011 should have the Hokies very motivated. The senior class has been influential on the younger group this season, and it’ll make sure the team is prepared for this game. -- Jared Shanker